The Blog of Jake Kelfer
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The trip to Ohio began at 6:30am Monday morning as we headed to the rental car place. Before I get started sharing the adventures of Ohio, this trip was going to be about 650 miles in two days visiting 4 colleges and meeting so many new people.
I get my car and I’m off.
The trip began and I arrived at Toledo just as practice was starting. Their Director of Basketball Operations welcomed me and I got to enjoy practice. Toledo isn't the best program in the country but they had some good players and a few people for me to keep my eye on throughout the season.
After practice was over I jammed to meet with someone in the greek life department only to find out something came up and he couldn’t meet. In my mind, I wasn’t going to settle for not meeting him so I walked to his office and met with him for just a minute to introduce myself and get him a copy of my book. My thoughts were, if I am only going to be at Toledo once, I better do everything I can to build relationships and lay the foundation for speaking in the future.
Once I met with him, it was time to get back on the road. I had a 2.5 hour drive from Toledo to Columbus.
Once I got to Columbus, I went straight to the gym. I have to say, even though I’m writing this is the heart of Michigan, Ohio State was awesome!
Coach Holtmann and the entire staff were class acts. They ran a great practice and after, I had the chance to meet with them for several minutes before taking off. I really respect what they are doing and wish them the best of luck this season.
It was 7pm and I was off to find my Airbnb. This was my first time at an Airbnb so not going to lie, I was a little nervous. I didn’t know the area and I sure as hell didn’t know the person I was staying with. When I arrived, I called my host and the first words he said were, “Go in the back alley and come up the gravel driveway to the back.” In my head, I thought I was entering the danger zone and this could be the end of my existence.
I walked into a dimly lit house full of candles and strong smells to meet my host. He gave me a tour of the house and took me to my room. The room was on the third floor in what looked like an attic turned bedroom. Much to my surprise it was not bad. Actually, it was a pretty sweet set up for the night!
He also showed me my bathroom and to be honest, it was a little weird. Like here I am, in this random dude’s house about to share a bathroom and shower for the night. I don’t know anything about him or the area, but hey, this is what life is all about.
Instead of thinking negatively, I embraced the situation and went out to explore downtown Columbus. I started making small talk with people as I walked by them in hopes of getting a recommendation for dinner.
Sure enough after about a mile, I had a few repeat answers and went to enjoy a nice meal at Bodega. I grabbed a cold one and some specialty chicken fingers before heading back to the Airbnb.
The rest of the night went smoothly and my time in Columbus came to an end as quickly as it started.
Day two of the Ohio trip started off with a 50 minute drive from Columbus to Dayton. It was a quick and easy ride and the weather wasn’t too bad which I was extremely thankful for.
I was excited to get to Dayton because I was going to be speaking to a sports management class. I had met the professor through a mutual friend two weeks ago and now here I was speaking to the class and elevating them to pursue their sports dreams.
Professor Titlebaum aka Doc T passed the baton over to me and it was showtime. I went through my journey and discussed my college experience, my time with the Lakers, the process of writing Elevate Beyond, and the creation of the Professional Basketball Combine. Once I finished telling my story, we did a deep dive into each students' goals and ambitions and talked about how we can work together to help each other achieve our goals. Then we finished with a Q&A.
Once I finished speaking, I jetted out of his class and went to my next meeting with the Associate Director of Student Life to discuss future speaking opportunities. I knew they were already booked for the year but once again, I wanted to establish a face to face relationship and lay the foundation for the future. She was an awesome person and turned out to be a huge basketball fan. Most of our conversation was about basketball but I was okay with that because I knew we connected.
After her meeting I went to try and meet with the basketball program. I knew that I couldn’t attend their practice due to the NCAA scandal but I at least wanted to meet some of the staff. Unfortunately, my contact wasn’t available to meet so I had to leave.
I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t meet their staff, but I understand how things work and I gave it my best shot. Plus, I couldn’t let that bring me down as I still had to make it to Xavier in time for practice.
I left Dayton full of excitement and headed to Xavier. Within an hour I had arrived. Fortunately, there was no traffic but that also landed me at Xavier with an hour to spare. I ended up walking to the student involvement office to see if there was anyone that was available to chat with and to learn more about the events they host. For as much speaking as I am doing, I am constantly learning about how each college hosts its own events and how each college differs in their approach to speakers.
It was finally time for practice and the last stop before heading home to Michigan, and it was a great practice. Coach Mack has his players doing some great things. They have some top talent and some young guns that will make their team fun to watch this year.
THE DRIVE HOME
5pm hits and it’s time to hit the road. This was the moment I was dreading because after two exhausting days I had to drive 4.5 hours from Cincinnati all the way back to West Bloomfield. Once again, I could have let the length of the drive tire me out or annoy me, but I chose to look at it with optimism. I saw it as an opportunity to call my family and friends and enjoy the terrains of Ohio and that's exactly what I did. I was on the phone for about 3 hours of the total drive while listening to great podcasts in between.
For the first 2 hours I was flying. There was no traffic and it was still light out. But then it got dark and I started to get more tired which I expected. With about 45 minutes to go, the rain came and when I say it came, it poured. The last leg of the trip was tough but I made it. I made it to the rental car return and Dana picked me up and took me home. Shoutout to Dana for being a trooper and picking me up in the pouring rain.
When I finally arrived back home, I watched the Dodgers win game one of the World Series and went to bed happy. All in all, this trip was a great time for me to explore, think, learn, and create. I never thought I’d say this, but I can officially say I’ve traveled through Ohio!