J.J. Jenkins
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Before I take you through part two of my journey following the Cal Poly men’s basketball team (check out part one here), let me explain a little Mustang News tradition — the idea of saving up and then promptly spending “YOLO dollars.”

A brief disclaimer: I despise just about everything YOLO stands for, but I can honestly say I love the concept of YOLO dollars.

What is a YOLO dollar, you ask? For every late night we spend in the newsroom finishing a story, or early morning spent tracking down a lead while our friends are either sleeping or having fun, Mustang News staffers credit themselves imaginary YOLO dollars. Finally, once enough YOLO dollars stack up, it comes time to spend them all in one epic night — forgetting all the worries of the newsroom and just living like a normal (responsible) college student — or, in my case, enjoying an epic journey.

Having been editor-in-chief of the newspaper for nearly two quarters and spending countless weekend hours sleeping rather than hanging out with my friends outside of the newsroom, I had a crushing amount of YOLO dollars in my pocket. For those not following me, I needed to get out and have an adventure.

Buying a one-way ticket to Chicago, traveling via Uber then bus then car to Dayton, Ohio was just what I needed. Normally, I’m the type of person who needs a schedule and a specific plan to operate effectively, but on Wednesday, neither was an option. I arrived at the arena in Dayton about an hour before game time with approximately 100 things running through my mind. First and foremost was coverage: Twitter coverage, Facebook coverage and actually writing a story about the game.

But I also knew that directly afterward I would either A) have to schedule a flight out of Dayton on Thursday morning to catch a final in San Luis Obispo at 4 p.m. if the team lost, or B) find some way of getting to St. Louis in time for another Cal Poly game on Friday. Hitchhiking, finding random strangers headed to Missouri on Craigslist, renting a car and flying were all options because, unfortunately, the athletics department said they didn’t have room for me on their chartered plane.

The game against Texas Southern tipped off and right off the bat, it looked like Cal Poly wasn’t going to be able to stop Aaric Murray, which didn’t bode well. Early in the night I tweeted that the Mustangs were either going to have to slow him down or make sure almost literally no one else scored. Cal Poly took the second option.

Murray continued to dominate — eventually scoring 38 of the Tigers’ 69 points — but shots were falling for the Mustangs and the Tigers couldn’t find another threat.

The clock wound down with Cal Poly leading by double-digits, and my phone started buzzing. The Mustang News general manager had scoped out some flights for me to St. Louis the next day and, simultaneously, my amazing mother was coordinating with family friends in St. Louis (we lived there for six years, so it’s kind of like a home, except I don’t exactly look forward to going back).

Ten minutes after the final buzzer I was in the press conference asking questions of senior forward Chris Eversley, sophomore wing David Nwaba and head coach Joe Callero. Twenty minutes later I was writing a story, which was posted about an hour later. I quickly designed a “Scroll Kit” — which is what you see if you view the story on a desktop, as we find it gives the viewer a better experience and showcases Ian Billings’ amazing photos.

By 11 p.m. I was back in the hotel room browsing flights with last year’s editor-in-chief Brian De Los Santos, who was hoping to accompany me to St. Louis for the game against Wichita State.

The first flight that popped up was at 6 a.m. It was the cheapest and fastest way to get to Missouri. Meanwhile, my mother — seriously, she’s awesome — had just sat down for dinner with old friends from St. Louis who were in California. Of course, they let us use their house and, of course, they let us use their car to get downtown to the games.

Simultaneously, another friend happened to be dropping someone off at the St. Louis airport when our plane arrived. And just like that, we had a ride from the airport to the suburbs and transportation when we got there.

The last thing Brian and I needed before booking a flight that was just six hours away … YOLO dollars. After a quick balance check, we decided to continue the adventure. At 12:15 a.m. our flight was booked and suddenly, having to leave the hotel in four hours, sleep was unimaginable.

By the time we landed in St. Louis at 8 a.m. we were basically the walking dead. But a day of laying on the couch watching March Madness has us ready for one more Cal Poly game, now just a few hours away.

We’ll have live coverage on Twitter nearly an hour before tipoff. Given the twists and turns of the past week, I’ve learned that the next event is usually the one you think is least likely. And if the unthinkable happens again, we’ll have to dig deep into our wallets again.

I’m certain there are still a few YOLO dollars left.

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