It went here:
Ahh, Comic-Con. You invade my neighborhood with your costumed nerds and overweight spandex Spidermen people. And I love it. Cause you’re silly. And I’m silly. Here’s an example:
Del Mar! … I reported live for 7 hours at Opening Day of the Del Mar races. It was my first time to Opening Day. I was amazed by it. The pageantry, the hats, the beautiful horses, the people who arrived looking so fresh and left looking so … worn. I didn’t bet — saving that for a time when I’m off the clock — but I had a lot of fun doing reports from the barn, anchoring the show and meeting all the people who work behind-the-scenes, like the guy who plays the bugle and the guy who opens the gates and the guy who is a therapist for the horses. Yeah, you read that right.
Continued my “Overtime with Annie” series with Kendall Reyes (second-round pick, defensive end) and Edwin Baker (seventh-round, running back). We went to Sea World to see a little of San Diego before training camp started, and to talk about life as a rookie. I kid you not, they are both two of the nicest players I’ve met. Respectful, humble, appreciative … and FUNNY. Hilariously funny. Don’t believe me? Watch this. … Props to them both for being on time to the shoot and for genuinely having a great time. I’m watching them battle it out in training camp right now and remembering how just yesterday, we were eating funnel cake. Ahhh, how time flies.
Words can’t do this one justice, so here you go. Just watch that.
Padres! Here I am with ball girl Nina, who is a STUD. More on her (and how she became a ball girl) later. As for the Padres … they found some new life after the All-Star break, and I like it. They might not be winning every game, but they’re winning more. They might not have EVERYTHING coming together, but they are starting to weave more consistency into their playing. I think you have to be thankful for the little things, the small triumphs. They could have thrown in the towel a long time ago but they’re still fighting. That’s respectable.
This is the first installment of my “Adventures With Annie” series. I took trapeze lessons. Here’s the thing: I didn’t think I’d be scared to do this. I don’t know why. It just didn’t seem scary to me when I thought about it. I like risks and I like adrenalin rushes and I like being forced out of my comfort zone. So I was amped to take on the trapeze. BUT … When I climbed that sucker, and I stood at the top and had to jump, I was scared out of my mind. The nerves settled, but never really went away. It was a huge thing for me — one of those cool empowering things where you feel like you’re ready to kick-a** afterwards, you know? But I can tell you right now, I about peed my pants before I jumped off that platform. I mean, I didn’t. But I about did.
A photo shoot for a new Sports show on UT-TV with Kevin Acee, sports columnist.
And, of course … FOOTBALL!!!! Listen, I can’t lie. I love football and I love this time of year and I love the sweating and the grunting and the hitting. I love the grass all over me when I come home and the crazy tan lines from standing on a football field all day. I love it. I love this time of year, when anything is possible. I love the predictions and the assumptions and the optimistic fans and the bitter fans and the players who are FIGHTING like crazy to make the roster. I love getting to know the players and the coaches and the fans and the equipment people and I love the quiet times at Chargers Park, when the Super Bowl … could … belong … to … them. Or any of the other 31 teams. But you feel me.
So that’s where July went. It’s an extra long blog post since I failed miserably to blog this past month. I figured a long one would be like several short ones, right? … No? That’s not how it works? Okay. I’ll do better in August, peeps.
I spent the weekend in Texas, at LaDainian Tomlinson’s 3-day football clinic, on the campus of TCU.
Holy hot. I have to say that first. I have to get that out of the way.
Here’s the thing: For the most part, I shoot my own stories. Sometimes I get a cameraman, but for this story (as is the case pretty much anytime I’m traveling) I did not. Now, I’m not complaining — being a “one-woman-band” has afforded me a lot of opportunities and is really the foundation of who I am as a reporter — butttttttt … sometimes it’s harder than others. I mean, think about it. I’m out shooting in humid, stuffy Texas heat and pretty much drenched in sweat, running around the football fields, trying to get good shots, but in five minutes I’ve got to go on-camera and interview a superstar.
Wipe off my forehead, throw on some powder, hope I don’t smell, guzzle a little water and smile, smile, smile … all while sweat drips down my back.
Yeah, that’s a good visual, huh?!
That’s how I roll.
Okay, onto the superstar.
Kevin Acee and I decided to go to Texas long before LT decided to retire. We knew he was in a contemplative state about the game, and we knew he started a football academy that he was very involved with, and both of those factors prompted us to book the flight to Fort Worth. But the week of the trip, LT gave up the NFL and went into history books with the Chargers. That sort of changed our angle, but not really. We still wanted to go and see what his mindset was like post-retirement and what this whole LT-Academy was about … so off we went to Texas.
I mean, it’s LaDainian Tomlinson, a prolific running back who defined the Chargers organization for nearly a decade. Given the chance to go, you go.
I’m glad we did.
It was awesome to see LT in this kind of environment — coaching, mentoring, advising — and every once in a while breaking out in a little cut or run against the athletes. Kevin and I chatted with LT throughout the weekend and talked to him for about an hour on Saturday. He was relaxed, open, super involved with the kids. He seemed very, very comfortable with retirement.
This example is trite, but it’s all I know, so I’m going to go with it. Most of you know dance was/is a huge part of my life growing up and really was my career path for nearly 12 years. I worked a full-time “real job” — you know, with timecards and benefits and stuff — and then I’d go teach for five or six hours every night. It was my passion. That was after dancing all throughout my childhood, teen and college years.
I loved it. I thrived on it.
When I chose to stop teaching to pursue my path as a sports reporter, I felt the most immense hole in my life … even though I knew it was the right decision. Dance had — and to some extent, does — define me. And when it stopped, I missed the kids, the creativity, the music, the costumes, the culture … “Dance Moms” is real, yo! It’s no joke! And you get used to that, to being a “studio brat” and having that family.
So, I can’t imagine how LT might feel come September.
What impresses me about LT is that he has a plan. He’s gotten advice from former teammates; he’s read books and forced himself to stay on a schedule (get his son ready for school, take him to school, come home, run, etc) … He wants to keep busy and “not sit on the couch,” he told me. But he also admitted he knows he’s going to have rough days.
Here’s the video:
And here’s some pictures from the trip … enjoy!
The hotel we were staying at had one of those waffle-makers, you know, where you pour the batter in and make your own. Except this is Texas! They don’t have ordinary round waffles! No sirree! They have Texas shaped waffle-makers. Kevin made one every morning … And I’d rip off the panhandle.
A little interview action.
Some more interview action.
I couldn’t resist.
I have an awesome job. Really, I hate to brag, but I do. As a “new media” sports reporter, I get to travel, write, shoot videos, edit, report, create and dream up ideas centered around professional sports teams. I meet amazing people and interview athletes daily. I witness the battle on the playing field between success and failure all year long and am inspired by the tiny moments (because it’s those moments that create the big ones) where triumph beats adversity.
And sometimes I complain.
Yep. I know. I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true.
You know how it goes. In any job, there are complications. Support you don’t get, resources you need, people who are jerks … Those moments when even though you’ve prepared and lined things up and made seven backup plans, life decides to laugh at you anyways and kick you in the shins and make you pull an eighth out of your butt.
Sometimes, I lose perspective.
Where am I going with this, you wonder? Well, let me explain:
Bill Johnston is the public relations director for the San Diego Chargers. His wife, Ramona, has Huntington’s disease, a genetically caused brain disorder that takes away a person’s ability to walk, talk, swallow, eat and think. Slowly, that person becomes just a shell of himself or herself. It’s such a sad disease, because it robs a person of his or her spirit.
Every year, Bill and his family — along with the rest of the HD community — tirelessly raise money to help find a cure for HD. A few weeks ago, I tagged along with Bill and his daughter, Hayley, as they ran the Rock-And-Roll Marathon in support of HD:
My life decisions often include what I’m going to wear the next day, or if I’ll have carbs for lunch, or whether or not I can cover a story. Maybe *sometimes* I might think about my future, and if I’ll marry or have a family or where my career might be in ten years. Hayley faces a decision of whether or not to be tested for a disease that she very well could have … A disease that would make all other decisions trivial. Stop. Think about that for a second. Think about one of your kids having to face that.
And Hayley is so strong.
The thing about Bill and Hayley is that they are two of the funniest, most optimistic, friendly, professional people you will ever meet. They are, for lack of a better word, cool. You’d wanna hang out with them and drink beers and watch the game. Certainly I don’t know what goes on in their personal lives, but I know their courage isn’t an act.
Last night, I went to one of my favorite events of the year — the “Shoot To Cure HD” event. It’s basically a tournament style basketball shoot-off at Chargers Park. People form teams and go at it, and usually they’ve had a few cocktails before they take their shots. It’s pretty fun. Plenty of Chargers show up, and this year, it was the coaches and defensive line that made it to the end of the tournament. Here’s some sights and sounds (excuse the poor quality — I used my old FlipCam):
Remember what I was talking about in the beginning of this post? How sometimes I forget what an awesome job I have (and life, really) because of a bad day or some jerky egotistical athlete? Well, guess what — my whole family is healthy. I am healthy. I have the choice, every day, to steer my life in any direction I choose.
Ramona does not. And depending on a test result, Hayley might not either.
I’m not trying to give you all the “don’t take life for granted” speech. But I can say that my life is changed because of Bill, Ramona, Hayley and their family. Take a second, go to an event, or simply read more about HD on this website. Help them find a cure.
Side note: I took my first motorcycle ride during the marathon, to try and find Bill and Hayley on the course. Pretty sweet huh???
I’m back from my week-long road trip with the Padres and will give you guys a post shortly about how all of THAT went. In the meantime …
So recently, the Padres had an extra-innings game on a night when I was clearly delirious and sleep-deprived. Here’s how it went:
The Padres are going into extra innings. Oy vey!
In between innings, I’ll take a little nap.
Uh-oh. Security was NOT happy about my snooze.
Inning Twelve. Catcher John Baker is on second base! Meditating.
The game is over after 13 innings! The Padres WIN! Yeah!
Soooo … I was so amped to start this blog, and I did well in the beginning, and then BAM! A whirlwind of work hit, and I slacked off.
Booooo. Buddy Black would have kicked me out of the clubhouse already. Norv Turner would have thrown me off the field.
But, I’m back, and I’ll get this thing updated on a regular basis. I just got a little sidetracked this last month, with the Padres starting their season, the Chargers starting voluntary workouts, the Draft, the suicide of Junior Seau, doing some work for Fox Sports San Diego (see picture below) and a case of the freakin’ hives that lasted for weeks. That last one was the worst. I have pictures of it but they might make you vomit, so no link for those.
Here’s a few thoughts:
The Padres are struggling, absolutely. They show shades of excellence (so you know they CAN do it) but it’s muted by their inability to get pitching, fielding and hitting on the same page consistently. Really, it’s muted by errors and injuries. Lots of them. … I wouldn’t count the team out yet. Stop rolling your eyes! … Regardless, it’s been fun to get to know some of the new players, like Yonder Alonso, and talk to injured players about getting back in the game.
I try to get to Petco early, and I always relish moments like these:
The suicide of Junior Seau was unbelievable. Not only the shock of the news, but the magnitude of how far it reached. So many players — former and current — paid their respects and talked about how Junior had impacted their lives. And it’s crazy, because we’re all so used to seeing football players as gladiators — they don’t really break down — so this was a reminder that hey … they are HUMAN. I saw former Chargers long snapper Dave Binn in the elevator at Qualcomm before Seau’s “Celebration of Life” and he looked at me and said, with the saddest eyes: “It’s been a long, rough week.” And you just FELT it.
The Chargers have started their voluntary workouts. Last year there was the lockout, and I forgot just how much they DO before training camp. It’s been fun to be back on the field at Chargers Park, to see veterans mingling with rookies and trash talking and what not. Plennnttyyyyy of videos to come from there in the near future.
That’s it for now. Really, I’ll be better at this. For reals. You believe me, right?
Most people, when talking about the Padres and their struggles last season, mention that elusive word: Chemistry.
Chemistry, like mixing two liquids in science class and getting a gas. Chemistry, like that thing I hear two people have sometimes when they are on a date. Or DON’T have (See: “Woman fakes illness and exits date during middle of dinner”).
Chemistry is an intangible, and you either got it or you don’t. Clubhouse swag, if you will. Mojo.
We don’t know if the Padres will find it or not this season, but any manager will tell you it helps. A lot. It’s usually paired with winning, and I think it’s a chicken or egg situation … Does the chemistry come first, then the winning? Or vice versa?
In the short time I’ve been at Spring Training, I’ve felt it. Swag. It’s not loud or egotistical or pretentious. It’s quiet, comfortable in its own skin.
Buddy Black does a lot during the club’s time in Peoria to encourage camaraderie. During the team’s morning meetings, he introduces new players by sharing something that most teammates wouldn’t know (like the fact that the player used to dress up for rodeos or be on his high school dance team or WHATEVER). He also is part of the annual basketball shoot-out, a tournament-style competition (a la “March Madness) between coaches and players.
Lest any of you tweet or Facebook me and say something silly like, “These players should be in the batting cages instead of on the basketball court,” … Sit down, take a deep breath, hit yourself in the head once and RELAX. This happens before practice starts and doesn’t cripple the team — it builds it.
Today, the tournament came down to two teams: The starting pitchers against the coaching staff. To see who won, scroll to the bottom.
Enjoy the pics!
Okay, so this one was taken yesterday, when the teams were still being whittled down. I love this shot. Remember — Will Venable played basketball for Princeton University. Cory Luebke was a hoops star in high school (along with baseball and football).
The players don’t really “defend” … they sorta stand there and raise their arms (c’mon, no one wants to get hurt). What they DO do is distract. Mark Kotsay is mostly in charge of this. Here he is with a leaf blower, which he aims at players as they take their shot.
Then there’s the bullhorn. Self-explanatory.
But nothing compares to the truck. I don’t know who the truck belongs to, but I can tell you it has a horn on it that is unlike any horn I’ve ever heard. My ears are STILL ringing from it 10 hours later. Big Truck Must Have Loud Noise, I guess. Anyways, it gets blasted whenever a player is about to shoot.
The only time there is silence is when Buddy has the ball. If the Skipper is shooting, there are no horns, no leaf blowers, nothing. Just respect.
Teammates watching the game held face signs, just like this Dave Roberts one.
So who won? The starting pitchers. Cheers to Joe Wieland, Tim Stauffer, Corey Luebke, and Dustin Moseley!