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February 4, 2013

Cal Commit Keeps Recruiting Diary



In this, our second installment of the Recruiting Diary, 3-Star defensive tackle Tony Mekari lets GoldenBearReport in on the details of his January 25th visit to Berkeley.

Committed to the Bears since mid-January, the 6-3, 260-pound Westlake senior talks drawing his dad's ire, Cal's first-rate football facilities, and -- as is becoming custom -- donuts.

Tony Mekari Recruiting Diary:

My parents and I woke up at 6 a.m. on Friday, January 25th to depart for the official visit at Cal. Having chosen to drive; we were already packed and got on the road at 7 a.m. The drive got very foggy about 45 min into it, but other than that it was easy. Having taken the I-5 we reached Berkeley at about 12:15.

Since we arrived earlier than the 2:30 check-in time, we went to Fisherman's Wharf to have lunch and walked around a bit. After walking off our lunch, we headed over to the Claremont hotel. Upon arrival, we were greeted with visit itinerary. The hotel and its vicinity are truly amazing. The beautiful white building with its unique ambiance, the Claremont is a place where couples plan their weddings and where past presidents have stayed.

After checking in and getting settled in our rooms, we went down to a conference room to meet the coaches, team staff, along with other recruits and their parents. Each recruit was taken to another room for the physical examination questionnaire, while others mingled, enjoyed appetizers and the view of the bay.

We had a short break to go back to our rooms to freshen up and get dressed to go to dinner. Bus charter arrangements were made at 6 p.m. to take all recruits and their families along with the coaching staff to the ferry, which would take us to Pier 41 in San Francisco. It was the first time on a boat for some of the players. It was an exceptional experience and spectacular view to go under the bay bridge by boat and seeing San Francisco and the bridge lit up at night from a boat's point of view.

Once docked, we had some free time on the Pier before meeting for dinner at Neptune's. The Pier was full of people, lights, small shopping stores and food courts. Few of us stopped for mini-donuts before dinner. I cannot describe how good they were. (I probably had 6 or so!)

At around 7:30 p.m., we were seated at Neptune's Steak House at the end of pier with an Oceanside view. The food was as spectacular as was the view.

After the great dinner, we returned to our hotel by bus, where our hosts picked us up for the rest of the evening to experience the nightlife of Cal Football Student-Athletes. I had a great time and it was cool to be with future teammates. It seems they were enjoying themselves too. Of course we needed a midnight snack prior to being dropped off. I got a good night's rest for the following big day of meetings and campus tours.

Wake up-call was as 9 a.m. We all met for breakfast at the hotel and departed for campus on a bus at about 11 a.m. We checked out the dorms, walked parts of the campus, got a bit of school history, and explored the High Performance center. The campus is absolutely stunning and the High Performance center is unbelievable. All of the architectural design of the buildings gave the campus an ivy-league feeling. It was a lot of walking but the weather and scenery was perfect. One of my favorite perks is that I get a room cleaning service twice a week!

After eating lunch at the players lounge, we met at the meeting room for a PowerPoint presentation of Cal statistics, followed by an education specialist who spoke about the value of a degree from Cal, as well as a current student sharing his experience at Cal. We then walked through the locker rooms and then on to the training and weight rooms. All the equipment and rooms are state of art and will be of great benefit to the team. Our individual meeting with our position coaches followed. Coach Barry Sacks went over some techniques and schemes. We also met with Coach Andy Buh, and Coach Coccimiglio who helps the players get internships and jobs at close to 30 of the fortune 500 companies located in San Francisco. After our final meeting with Coach Sonny Dykes, we were taken back to the Claremont to get ready for dinner at the Memorial Stadium press box, which was personally my favorite.

The press box balcony view was truly a moment to remember. It had the best possible view of the entire Bay including all the bridges, Alcatraz and San Francisco. It was mesmerizing. We had a speaker telling us about the cost of the new stadium and press box costing close to half a billion which is impressive.

I wasn't really feeling good that night so I decided to stay back at the hotel and relax. My parents and I did go out and drive around Berkeley for a little while before calling it a night.

On Sunday morning, we had an incredible brunch with the company of Keiko Price, the Director of Football Student-Athlete Development, and some the Professors, who answered some great questions, in addition to the entire coaching staff.

At the close of brunch, we got our bags, said our goodbyes to the staff who did a great job organizing the visit. We stopped at Bear Basics apparel shop and bought Cal wear for my entire family of 30. My dad gave me the death stare when he saw the total on the receipt.

I had such a blast at Cal. The official visit gave me a more thorough insight and made me twice as excited as I was when I first visited and committed a few weeks back. It made me feel more at home and most confident in my final choice. I had great time with the other recruits and coaches and eager to be back in June. As for my parents, I think they may have enjoyed it more than I did and can't wait to bring the rest of the family to Berkeley!

I'm thrilled to be going to Cal and starting the college phase of my adult life as a California Golden Bear!


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