The passion of Miss. State eases hardship on road trip with stranger | Around the Mississippi
TUPELO, Miss. (AP) – There was a national championship at stake, and the rules were different.
Eric Kendrick and Jacob Chancellor were due to travel to Omaha and were ready to blow the lid off the first directive from mothers to children around the world: Don’t talk to strangers.
The hastily devised plan involved not only talking to a stranger, but also joining them on a nighttime ride through the heart of America, stopping only for the truck’s gasoline … and the elimination of other fluids.
Then there was the matter of sharing a hotel room with a stranger.
Kendrick and Chancellor shared restaurant tables and basically traveled hip-hop together. Somewhere along the way, they crossed the stranger-to-friend bridge. It could have been Kansas City.
“It took me to Kansas City before I started being myself. I was so nervous, ”Kendrick said.
Kendrick, 38, grew up in Aberdeen and is now raising a family in Blue Springs.
Longtime Mississippi fan, his wife Kayla, suggested he seize the day with the Bulldogs within reach of the title.
“My wife told me I could go to Omaha. It looks like a trap, ”he tweeted.
Chancellor felt his pain.
The 31-year-old MSU fan from south Quitman also had his wife Sydney’s national clearance to make the trip.
When he started to calculate the numbers, he felt like he needed a friend to share the bill. Or as it turned out, a stranger.
The Chancellor was less concerned about the possibility of criminal activity.
Now self-employed, he worked abroad earlier in his professional life. Sometimes he didn’t meet his colleague until they went out to sea.
“The unease I could feel coming from his direction was enough to put me at ease, if that makes sense. If he’s worried about it, I don’t have to be,” said the chancellor.
Both wives were nervous as well, but nothing could be resolved with a Face Time meet and greet. After that, the journey that started with a random Twitter conversation was suddenly real.
Chancellor drove north and the two left New Albany in Chancellor’s truck around 10:15 p.m. on the Sunday night before Game 1.
They didn’t leave until Kayla took a picture of the Chancellor’s license plate.
If two strangers riding through the night weren’t clumsy enough, there were other obstacles.
The journey started with Chancellor heading towards Birmingham instead of Memphis on I-22.
It was light compared to arriving at the hotel on Monday night after game 1 and finding the reservation had been lost.
Kendrick and Chancellor were then homeless in Council Bluffs, Iowa, after midnight before finding a new hotel.
When they finally settled in, they had been awake since Sunday morning – over 40 hours by Kendrick’s estimate – and had slept until about noon on Tuesday.
When the next 40 hours passed, the Bulldogs were national champions.
The only time the strangers had spent separately was at the game where they had seats in different places.
Now, these are friends who have kept in touch almost daily since their Omaha run.
The trip was unusual, but it turned out that two foreigners were more linked by their passion for MSU than they initially thought.
“As soon as I got in the vehicle I was nervous, not in terms of something that was going to happen, but rather when do I start showing who I am? My wife says it was like two parents were trying to organize a party to spend the night, ”Kendrick said.
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