An Unexpected Sequel

It was surprise enough when Nikki was invited to MC a Luminaria stage last month.  We could hardly have expected that an even greater surprise would come of that.

But as it turns out, representatives of The CE Group, the event management firm for Luminaria, were among the over 200,000 in attendance that day.  And after seeing Nikki’s performance, they were very impressed.  Impressed enough to consider her for another event they were working on…

This year, San Antonio hosted the NCAA Women’s Final Four.  Needless to say, that was a huge event for the city, and the festivities surrounding it were a huge deal as well.  Take the Salute Premiere on Friday night (that was April 2).  It marked the official arrival of the four teams.  It was hosted by Hannah Storm.  It had a red carpet, with two hosts interviewing fans and arriving guests.  One of those hosts was Mike Lavender, announcer for the Spurs and Rampage.

And the other was Nikki Young.

So, of course, the week before the Premiere was a bit of a whirlwind as we worked with all involved parties to lock down the what and where (and wear) and all the other necessary details.  It was a lot to lock down, but if you’ve ever worked with Nikki, you know how committed she is to making sure a thing is done right.  (That commitment’s a big part of why I love working with her.)  Besides, with an opportunity like this, you want to make sure you have all you need.

With that in place, it was time to make our way back to the Convention Center.  The same hall that held Luminaria’s art gallery three weeks earlier now hosted NCAA’s Tourney Town, where Nikki would meet up with reps from CE Group and Big Screen Network Productions for one last run-through before the crowds made their way in.  Chadd and I were along to document the event and offer whatever support we could.   This included making sure Nikki’s bag, with various necessities, was always within reach, which led to one of the more amusing photos of me you’re likely to see for a long while:

(Look for this as my next profile pic.)

Finally, it was showtime.  And Nikki did a fantastic job.  The least you could say was that she was very well prepared, but more than that, she was engaging and charming, and won the crowd and guests over [snap] likethat.  (Her interview with a Baylor player, with whom she switched places on learning that the student was a communications major, was but one highlight.)  I got to answer a few “Wow, who is that?”s, and even Hannah Storm – who knows a few things about interviews – was impressed with her skills.  I knew Nikki had it in her, but there’s something really cool about seeing other people discover it for themselves.

Once her work was done, it was time to relax and enjoy the festivities.  The main event, the Salute Premiere itself, was a lot of fun to watch, and I imagine it was even more so for the athletes and coaches who got to participate in it.  I was a little surprised to see members of the DeFilippo family in attendance; however, given that we’ve worked with them for a while, and one of their daughters recently landed a role in the Chicago cast of Billy Elliot the Musical, we weren’t so surprised to find their son in the band that played at the Premiere.  They’re an incredibly talented family, and we’re thrilled for all their success.

From there, we made our way to an afterparty with some welcome and rather fantastic catering, where we celebrated a job very well done with our new colleagues in The CE Group and BSN, and looked forward to the job yet to be done (remember, there were still three days left before the championship game).  And with that well-earned toast, our night came to a close.

It was a great experience, and a great occasion to rise to.  Thanks to everyone who helped make it happen, congratulations to the coaches and athletes from UConn, Stanford, Baylor, and OU, and of course, congratulations to Nikki for making the most of this opportunity.  I may not be surprised, but I’m definitely proud.

And finally, thanks to all of you who have left comments or otherwise expressed congratulations and support, be it on Facebook or in person.  It’s all truly appreciated.

Until the next turn in this journey, “be seeing you…”

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