(The following blog by Dan Genzler of Sioux Falls, S.D., who writes The Genz at genzmania.blogpost.com)When you are young and the entire world seems to spinning all around you, catching a baseball or football game on the radio is how you invest yourself in your favorite sport. You dream that someday the scene will include you at Tiger Stadium, Target Field, the Rose Bowl, at an NCAA “Road to the Final Four” game, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Lambeau Field, Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field, the Olympics or some other major venue.

As you move on with your life, things slow down yet still move swiftly. Those childhood dreams stick with you so when you get the chance to go to one of these events, you don’t hesitate. I have had the fortune of attending and working at some major events. From a week in Tiger Stadium to attending NCAA Division I tournament games, I have had the chance to not only watch the games but interact with participants.

As a former Sports Information Director, I have either worked events or offered my services to help colleagues with events, which has included various media relations duties from taking quotes, doing trash stats for TV, preparing post-game notes for media, serving as a press steward, serving as a championship media moderator (moderating post-game press conferences), among other duties.

Along the way, I witnessed one of the greatest closing moments in NCAA men’s basketball history and other moments. I was court side when James Forrest’s hit his unbelievable game-winning shot in Milwaukee in 1992 as seventh-seeded Georgia Tech and Bobby Cremins upset George Raveling’s second-seeded USC bunch, 79-78, that included Harold Minor http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4fz4hhpFoE&NR=1 (I was seated in the press row at the bottom of this video).

I saw the Michigan band get booed during an NCAA tournament game in Wichita, Kan. At the 2000 regional final, I watched Mateen Cleaves work his magic with Morris Peterson and defeat Iowa State en route to a national title http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ej0a0Hn55o4.

Spending a week at Tiger Stadium in its final year of existence (http://www.ballparksofbaseball.com/past/TigerStadium.htm) was among the most vivid of my memories. It wasn’t a great Tiger team (69-92) by any means, mediocre would better describe the team. I was there with good friend Mike Mahon as fans and we saw Al Kaline and Ernie Harwell (never spoke to them), watched batting practice from left field (hoping for a long one that never ended in my hands) but to see those two men — two of my heroes — was special.

Another memory was serving as SID for the South Dakota women’s basketball team, which upset top-ranked Delta State in 2008 (http://www.usdcoyotes.com/sports/wbball/release.asp?RELEASE_ID=4375) and advanced to its only national championship in history. Then, there were the Summit League battles that ended with SDSU’s 2011 women advancing to the national tournament for the third straight season and Oakland continuing its reign of men’s dominance. I worked as moderator as SDSU’s Aaron Johnston talked about the unbelievable winning effort that sent the Jacks to its third straight tourney title (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QsP9_Omwr4) and berth into the NCAAs. I also served as moderator at the 2005 NCAA Division II men’s basketball championships in Grand Forks (ND) when Virginia Union finished 30-4 and upended Bryant in the finals. In 2008, I got my first taste of the NCAA Track and Field Championships, working as a photography marshall. In 2006, I was disappointed at the NCAA Division II football championship in Florence, Ala., when University of South Dakota quarterback Wesley Beschorner finished second in the Harlan Hill Trophy balloting (http://www.usdcoyotes.com/sports/football/release.asp?RELEASE_ID=2861).

I could go on and on. Lots of memories.

So, when I was talking with a friend recently about going to the 2011 NCAA Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, it didn’t take a lot of convincing to take that step and head to Drake Stadium. With help from my good friend and former Drake SID Mike Mahon along with Iowa State’s information specialist Mike Ferlazzo I received credentials for the meet last Friday and Saturday. And, believe me, it was a “smart” decision.

Along the way, I was able to reacquaint with some old friends while making new connections. It was particularly pleasing that while working at the meet in the mixed zone (where media interview winning athletes), I saw a person that I hadn’t seen in 12 years. While I was interviewing Canadian runner Sheila Reid of Villanova, Zeb Lang tapped me on the shoulder to say hello. Zeb grew up in Vermillion where his dad Steve worked with me in University Relations at The University of South Dakota. Steve and I developed a solid work and personal friendship and I got to know his family, including Zeb. Now, Zeb is finishing a master’s degree at Cornell (NY) before he begins a career in corporate finance. He was at the meet working for letsrun.com (http://www.letsrun.com/). Zeb Lang is a good kid with a great future

I seem to have this unusual propensity to meet people from my past at events. It happened with Zeb. It has happened so often my family has asked me “do you know everybody.” I go to a Sioux City Perkins restaurant and a former Coyote women’s player (Ashley Robinette) says hey. It happened when I was in Wichita, Kan., for a regional men’s basketball tournament when a old friend from college strolled by where I was working. It happened when I was flying to San Diego as a teenager. Then this March, I was at the Boys State Tournament (won by O’Gorman) when I headed to the concession stand for some popcorn when an old friend from my college days, someone I had not seen in 25 years, appeared in my path. We talked for awhile and I left thinking, wow, how does that happen? It just does – I think to all of us.

I suppose that six degrees of separation make all of these unexpected interactions take shape. Regardless, this 2011 championship meet became one for the ages and one that will stick in my memory for a long while. Of course, one of the drawing points for me was the opportunity to watch Bethany Buell, the redshirt freshman pole vaulting sensation for The University of South Dakota. She was the first USD student-athlete ever to compete at the NCAA DI Championships. I knew I had to witness Buell’s performance as she represented the Coyotes on an athletic stage that included athletes from traditional DI powers LSU, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Minnesota, Southern California and others.

For more of this blog (including my eight special memories of the NCAA Track Championships), go to The Genz (genzmania.blogspot.com).