Three “Perks” of My Job

Working in intercollegiate athletics is a lot of fun. Don’t get me wrong, it is a lot of hard work and a lot of long hours but it is worth it. I get a lot out of what I do, most importantly a job that I look forward going to each and every day as well as an opportunity to connect and work with a wide range of people.

Besides the major components of what makes my job so great there are also the little things that make working in college sports just a little sweeter. No, I am not talking about an endless supply of free tickets, summers off, or an office overlooking the football field that so many people think I get (I don’t receive any of the three). I am talking about the very minor things, perhaps things that only matter to the nerdy and sports-obsessed person like myself. Yep, throughout my four years working fulltime in intercollegiate athletics I have accumulated certain items that I value. In tonight’s blog post I want to share the three items I have an overabundance of that I consider perks of the job but most other people would consider junk.


If I wanted to, I could wear a different Griz, conference, or promotional t-shirt for each day of the year. I don’t have enough space in my bedroom closet to store all the t-shirts I have received over the past four years so I have a living room closet that is filled with folded up shirts. You have to see how this happens though. We host any sort of tournament, we get a shirt. We have a white out or a maroon out, we get a shirt. We have a pink game, heart disease game, coaches vs. cancer game, or any cause awareness game, we get a shirt. We have a milestone game, rivalry game, or championship game, we get a shirt. We have an athletic department special event, we get a shirt. We have special initiatives in marketing that we want to push (i.e. social media, spirit squad, etc), we get a shirt.

This is not to even mention all the other shirts that come our way. Different sports will sometimes give me shirts. One time we found a few boxes full of long sleeve shirts out in storage that we didn’t even know we had (each staff member got a shirt). Many times I will get shirts for helping out other entities on campus. A t-shirt collection can build quite quickly.

I try to give shirts away to my family members and friends, and many times I am successful. However, the rate that I give them out just doesn’t match the rate that I receive them.

Me with a stack of t-shirts that I own from work. I am wearing a Play 4 Kay shirt in this photo.

Me with a stack of t-shirts that I own from work. I am wearing a Play 4 Kay shirt in this photo.


You meet anyone who works in the event industry and most likely you will at one time or the other see their vast credential collection. Employees in intercollegiate athletics are no different as many of us need issued credentials to do our jobs, both at home and away events.

Now compared to some of my seasoned superiors, I have a pathetic credential collection. But it is definitely starting to grow. I have accumulated most of my credentials through working gameday for both Griz football and basketball, doing football road travel, and then various odds and ends events. My most treasured credentials are definitely my NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament creds.

Credentials are important to me just because they show where I have been. They also serve as a memory of that particular season or event. I hold them closely.


A few of my credentials I happened to have around my place.

A few of my credentials I happened to have around my place.



Growing up as a kid I always wanted to go to giveaway days whenever we went to a sporting event. It didn’t matter if it was a single baseball card or a magnet, I wanted a free souvenir out of the experience. I remember going to Mariners games and freaking out that we had to get to the dome/stadium extra early because only the first 20,000 fans would get the item. Never mind that we could have gotten to the game after the first pitch and still have gotten the trinket, I needed to be 100% sure.

Fast forward 20 years to the career I am in right now and I can say that promotional items have lost a little bit of their luster for me. After you order, get ready, and pass the items out over and over again the intrigue starts to fade a little. You also start to wonder about the sanity of people when you encounter individuals who are 10x more obsessed about getting the giveaway item than I was back in my youth.

Out of the many items that usually come in a single shipment, I try to save one for myself as both a memory and as an example if we ever bring that item back again. I have rally towels, backpacks, growth charts, mini balls, sunglasses, foam fingers, cheer cards, leis, hats, and many more items. Granted most are in storage but I still utilize some of the promo items on an everyday basis, such as the backpacks and sunglasses.

Some classic promo items. I love using the backpack!

Some classic promo items. I love using the backpack!



So is my job cooler than yours?! I like to think so but obviously one’s satisfaction with his/her job is relative. I can say though that more than likely I have a greater amount of t-shirts, credentials, and promo items than you! WHAT NOW?! Don’t Blink.

ESPN Ombudsman and Collin Kaepernick

I was delighted to find out this evening that is once again running a column that I thoroughly enjoy. Some people might find it as a surprise that the almighty and humongous ESPN actually has an ombudsman, or, for those who are not familiar with what an ombudsman is, a person within the company who keeps the organization honest. Of course there is much more to it. An ombudsman responds to reader’s complaints, investigates shady or careless displays of journalism, and offers up opinions that are many times critical of the company.

For a long time my favorite piece on was the ESPN Ombudsman. About every month or so I could expect that a new column would pop up, fresh with finger pointing and mud-slinging about the network’s recent coverage. All of ESPN’s different outlets came under fire from TV to radio to print. All employees came under the gun as well from Colin Cowherd to Skip Bayless to Stephen A. Smith to Jeremy Schapp to Rachel Nichols. And of course all the issues that ESPN covered from Tebow to Favre to ARod were dissected and scrutinized. I love ESPN and most likely could not live without it but I appreciate the fact that someone is watching over them and offering a well-written, well-reasoned critique.

However, something disturbing occurred over the past year or so. There was no ESPN Ombudsman. I could not understand. Had the enterprise become so big and so entitled that they felt they no longer needed to take on a little bit of heat? Well, who knows but thankfully the column is now back with a brand new ombudsman (his name is Robert Lipsyte, most recently of the New York Times). In his first column he took on ESPN’s coverage of Jason Collins and then just today he reviewed the constant Dwight Howard free agent escapade. I encourage you to follow the link and read a little bit. Make sure to go back in the archives and see what the other Ombudsmen did, especially Don Ohlmeyer (my favorite).


On July 4, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick wore a Miami Dolphins hat to a Fourth of July party. As is the case anywhere these days, a fan spotted him with the hat on, snapped a picture, and posted it to Twitter. Outrage ensued inside of 49ers Nation and Kaepernick was brutalized by the media.

I thought this initial act was a poor decision on his part. I am not going to take the broad approach that everyone seemed to take by comparing it on a larger scale (i.e. it is like wearing a Coke hat when working for Pepsi….like wearing a Progressive shirt when working for Geico…like wearing a Google pin when you work for Bing…etc. etc.) because I don’t think it needs to be compared on a larger scale to deem it ill advised. Rather, when playing or working for a certain team or school, it is just simply wrong to wear the apparel of a rival team/school…especially when your certain team is paying you millions of dollars. But for this instance, even though I disagree, I cut Kaepernick a little bit of slack because he was just chilling at a party and because a paparazzi fan took the photo.

HOWEVER, what he did next can be described as nothing but immature. Angered by critics and fans who called him out, Kaepernick took a picture of him holding the Miami Dolphins hat, wrote out a hostile and condescending message complete with classless hash tags, and then posted it to Instagram. Dumb. Stupid. Careless. Not only did he totally miss the opportunity to offer a quick apology, not only did he mock his fanbase, and not only did he make a face worse than any duck face I have ever seen, but he brought out the Miami Dolphins hat once again AND posted it on his OWN social media account.

Yesterday he posted another Instagram photo of him with a San Francisco 49ers hat. Some are considering it a half apology…I definitely wouldn’t go that far. Don’t Blink.

Happy Fourth of July From Walla Walla

Happy Fourth of July everyone! What a wonderful holiday we get to celebrate today. What more do you want?…..patriotism, BBQ, fireworks, hot dog eating contests, and beautiful summer weather. Celebrating our independence couldn’t be any more fun.

This year I am in Walla Walla, Washington, to celebrate this special holiday. Most of my relatives still live in “the place so nice they named it twice” so my parents thought what a great way to conjure up a little bit of a family reunion and head down to wine country.

In a few hours we will be celebrating in the city’s large, beautiful, and historic Pioneer Park. I grew up playing in this park and actually attending Fourth of July picnics with members of my grandpa’s big Italian family who have long since passed away. Spending time with them, playing catch, feeding the ducks, climbing the trees, and watching the fireworks are some of my favorite childhood summer memories.

This year, replacing my Italian family on my mom’s side will be my wild and crazy aunts, uncles, and cousins on my dad’s side. They know how to have a fun time and there is never a dull moment. At around 11 a.m. we will start grilling hot dogs and hamburgers, enjoying cold beverages, and celebrating this amazing country that we live in. Time to soak it up!

Have a wonderful Fourth of July! As always be safe and remember to take a couple minutes to realize how blessed we are to live in the best country in the world. Don’t Blink.

Horrific Hoopfest Injury

Because I grew up going to athletic events, played sports all the way through high school, and now make a living working in sports, I have seen my fair share of sporting injuries take place right in front of my eyes. With that said, I had never seen anything worse than what I witnessed this past weekend at Hoopfest. The images engrained in my head from the events that occurred on early Saturday evening will forever be with me.

This year at Hoopfest I was a court monitor for a 12 team bracket as opposed to the traditional 16 team bracket. Because of this, I finished my shift early on Saturday at 4 p.m. I became very excited when I realized that I would get the opportunity to watch my brother play in his 5 p.m. game. Not only was it special that I could see him play, it was also a cool deal because I had not gotten to watch a Hoopfest game as a spectator in over six years.

After finishing up paperwork at my court, I walked from my post to my brother’s court between Spokane Falls Boulevard and Main. My brother’s team consisted of himself, two friends from the Ellensburg area, and one guy from Phoenix. The two guys from Ellensburg were staying at my parents’ house with us. Kyle, a former baseball teammate at Central Washington with my brother and a Hoopfest teammate of Glen’s the past couple of years, accounted for one of the Ellensburg boys. The other was a 20 year old kid named Corey who was pumped up to play in his first ever Hoopfest. I had gotten to know Corey the night before when him and Kyle arrived in town. He was excited to be in Spokane and to experience the tournament.

Glen with his two Ellensburg teammates. Corey is on the far left and Kyle is in the middle.

Glen with his two Ellensburg teammates. Corey is on the far left and Kyle is in the middle.

I got to Glen’s court a couple minutes before the game was about to start. The court monitor asked the crowd gathered if anyone could help out and keep score. Because I wanted a prime view of the action and because I know how valuable score keepers are, I volunteered and ran from my curb seat across to the other side of the court and to the scorer’s table.

Saturday evening games at Hoopfest are very competitive. They are elimination games and everyone wants to win and make it to Sunday. This game was no different. Glen’s team and their opponents played each other hard the whole game. Both teams were chippy and both teams were doing all they could not to lose. Just when it seemed like Glen’s team would not make it to see the light of Sunday as they faced a five point deficit, the guys pulled together for one last run. Thanks to some clutch shooting and a very generous timeout call, they managed to tie the game at 16-16 when regulation ran out. Overtime.

The Hoopfest overtime rule was enforced and the first team to 18 would win the game. This was when disaster struck…

In one of the initial possessions of overtime with the score still tied, Corey made a strong move to the basket for a potential lay-in. He left the ground to lay the ball up. As he was in the air, his defender accidentally took Corey’s feet out from under him. This flipped him upside down in midair, making a feet first landing impossible. In the split second that all of this happened I watched in complete horror as he fell head first into the cruel Spokane pavement. Corey was unable to brace his fall with his hands as the complete impact of the crash was absorbed with the left side of his head.

The moment the accident happened I heard a sound I never want to hear again in my lifetime…the thump of the human skull on the pavement. When he hit, it wasn’t like everyone froze and there was a moment of shocked silence, rather there was a collective shriek of sheer terror that came out of everyone’s mouth who watched the incident. About five seconds after he hit the ground Corey’s unconscious body had a seizure. With his body twitching on the court, people all around the court started to lose it. I dashed down the street to find a court marshal (they have radios) to get paramedics and rapid response team members down to the court immediately.

They eventually got Corey stabilized.

They eventually got Corey stabilized (Hoopfest 2013).

By the time I got back to the court Corey’s head was laying in a puddle of blood that turned the rain soaked black pavement dark red. With my brother and his two teammates huddled around him, a good Samaritan had come out of the crowd and tried to do what she could to help. Emergency personnel started to arrive and work on Corey. By the time they got to the scene, Corey had regained consciousness but was totally out of it.

By this time a large crowd had developed all around the court. Every second someone would come up to me and ask what happened. As the paramedics worked on him, players from both teams stood with their hands on their heads and lost expressions on their faces. They brought an ambulance in and parked it inside the court as personnel worked under the basket on Corey. Glen and Kyle ripped into Corey’s bag to get his cell phone so they could call his parents, only problem being his cell phone was dead. Just as my cousin was about to run to the free charging station they had set up at Hoopfest, the paramedics asked Corey a question: ‘Can you tell us your parents’ cell phone number?” Corey knew it! Not only did he know it, but he could recite it as well. Kyle called Corey’s parents to tell them the awful news.

Just a small portion of the crowd that gathered all around the court to watch the scene unfold.

Just a small portion of the crowd that gathered all around the court to watch the scene play out.

From the time the emergency crew arrived it took them about 30 minutes to treat Corey, stabilize him, get him on the stretcher, and load him into the ambulance. As they carried him into the vehicle, the roughly 200 people who were around watching gave him a nice ovation. As the ambulance took Corey to Sacred Heart Hospital the blood on the court was wiped off with a sanitizing solution and the two shook up teams resumed the game. My brother took Corey’s free throw and made it to put them up 17-16. However, the other team nailed a two-pointer to win the contest, 18-17. In what would have been a tense round of handshakes if the incident never occurred, both teams embraced each other and knew that everything had just been put in perspective. No one really won that game.

The point where they loaded Corey into the ambulance.

The point where they loaded Corey into the ambulance (Hoopfest 2013).

I left my spot at the scorer’s table and went to my mom across the street. Just seeing the tears in her own eyes made me wonder how terrible such a situation must be for the parents who actually have their own kids go through such a devastating and violent injury. Glen and Kyle went straight to the hospital. After a stint in the emergency room, they transferred Corey to intensive care. Things started to get a little scary.

Although he ended up getting stabilized while in the ICU, the damage could not have been more pronounced. Corey had sustained a serious concussion, the inside of his brain was bleeding, the back of it was bruised, and he had suffered a skull fracture. To make you squirm a little, doctors had to use eight staples to shut the giant laceration on the left side of his head.

Glen and Kyle spent Saturday night and Sunday at the hospital with their teammate and friend. On Monday, my mom went to the hospital and met Corey’s parents for the first time who were very gracious about her visit. They said although it was Corey’s first Hoopfest, it would probably be his last. They also said they were hoping that Corey would get released from the hospital that day but that it would have to come when dark fell because he was having sensitivity issues with the daylight.

In fact Corey did get discharged from the hospital that Monday night. He is currently in Ellensburg. Corey faces a long road of recovery and he will be unable to do a lot of things for quite some time. I feel so awful for him. Although I only knew him for around 24  hours before the incident you hate to see something like that happen to someone so young and someone so nice. Another lesson in perspective for me. Here’s to a full recovery, Corey. I am sorry this happened to you. Don’t Blink.

Spokane Hoopfest 2013: Smoooooth

This past weekend I concluded my sixth year as a Spokane Hoopfest court monitor and I can say that it will go down in the books as one of my smoothest tournaments ever. I had zero major issues and for the most part, everyone kept it cool in my bracket. While Hoopfest 2013 will mostly be remembered as a successful and smooth tourney through my eyes, I will also remember it for a few other reasons. Here is my Hoopfest 2013 recap.

Even though I was assigned to the exact same court I monitored on last year at Washington and Spokane Falls Boulevard, I got a totally different assignment. For the first time ever, I was in charge of a family bracket. The teams that made up my bracket consisted of adult males between the ages of 18-60 who were all related to each other. Mostly I had teams with a dad and three sons or I had teams that had two older brothers each with one of their own sons. I also had teams where I had absolutely no idea how the family connection worked, even after a lot of my own analyzing.

As a court monitor this year at Hoopfest, I presided over a family bracket.

As a court monitor this year at Hoopfest, I presided over a family bracket.

It was fun watching my bracket battle it out. There is a certain chemistry between families on an athletic court/field and it showed during Hoopfest. Most of the teams on my court utilized awesome teamwork throughout the weekend and motivated each other in a respectful and effective manner. The respect that the families showed one another on their own teams also extended to their opponents as well. Although arguments and tense moments definitely occurred between teams during play, good sportsmanship mostly always prevailed and always when the games concluded the opposing teams congratulated each other and left everything on the court. After last year, it was definitely refreshing to see.


My sixth year as a court monitor at Hoopfest went very smoothly.

My sixth year as a court monitor at Hoopfest went very smoothly.

I think only two controversial moments happened the whole weekend.

1. On one of the late Saturday games, one of the teams went a little crazy when they heard that their game was headed to overtime. They thought that with regulation over and with them holding to a 19-18 lead that the game was over. I explained that the game would continue in overtime until a team reached 20 points. Although angry and feeling like I was against them they finished the game, ultimately winning. Afterwards they apologized for their little freak out session, even before I put the exact rule that I correctly applied right in front of them.

2. A team was convinced that the score reflected on the red and blue scorecard was incorrect. I guess I shouldn’t even say “team”…it was a player on a team who was later joined by another one of his teammates in the mini dispute. They thought the scorekeeper (my dad) took away one of their points and gave it to the other team. After explaining the last few possessions with the players and reaching the score that we originally had reflected on the scorecard, they grudgingly gave up their fight.

I will definitely remember Hoopfest 2013 for the weather. All week long the forecast stated that both days of Hoopfest Weekend would be hot, with temperatures reaching the mid-nineties. While Sunday lived up to its billing, Saturday did not. I woke up at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning and looked out my window at the overcast, drizzly sky and asked myself “What’s going on here?” My mom assured me that it would blow over but it never did. For most of Saturday, the streets of downtown Spokane had dark clouds hovering above with several different periods of rain off and on. At one point, the whole tournament stopped for about 10 minutes for the sake of safety as it poured down rain.

A lot of my time on Saturday at Hoopfest was in the rain.

A lot of my time on Saturday at Hoopfest was in the rain.

The intermittent rain had some unpleasant results. First off, I had never seen so many nasty slips and falls in any other year. The wet courts slowed down play but it still couldn’t stop players from sliding around. Probably every player had at least one experience where they found themselves sitting on the cold, unforgiving pavement. Also, majority of the courts were sent into disarray as the tape markings could not withstand the rain coupled with the warming of the courts when the rain would let up. This resulted in many court with no markings whatsoever. My court actually held up pretty well but there was still confusion and cheap blackboard chalk could only do so much. But once Sunday came along the clouds disappeared and the bright sun shined down on us for the whole day, bringing the type of weather that is typical, and preferred, for Hoopfest.

Come Sunday morning, "real" Hoopfest weather appeared.

Come Sunday morning, real Hoopfest weather appeared.

I will also remember Hoopfest 2013 for having a little more downtime than usual. I only had 12 teams in my bracket as opposed to the standard 16 so my Saturday ended at 4 p.m. as opposed to 6:30 p.m. This allowed me to watch my brother’s Saturday night game but more on that tomorrow. Anyway, in 6 years I had never had the chance to watch a Hoopfest game as purely a spectator so that was a nice little treat.

Paige got to enjoy Hoopfest with me this year.

Paige got to enjoy Hoopfest with me this year.

In the end, a team called Me and My Three Sons won my bracket. They went undefeated and blew out their opponent in the championship game. I can go into the Hoopfest offseason with a great taste in my mouth and great anticipation for Hoopfest 2014. Thank you Spokane for always putting on such a great event. Don’t Blink.