My Top 10 Blog Posts of All-Time

After 10 years and 2,000 blog posts, I guess you could say this one means something. Today I am not counting down my top 5 favorite hard candies or my top 5 favorite fast food desserts. No, this one is a little more significant.

This month I took time to reflect on my personal favorite Don’t Blink blog posts from the past decade. I combed through the content and engaged in spirited internal debates about which ones meant the most to me. After much deliberation, I picked an extreme short list that comprises just .2% of the posts I have written since beginning this blog in 2011.

I am proud to present my Top 10 Don’t Blink Blog Posts. This countdown is all about my personal preferences and isn’t tied to analytics or the opinions of anyone else. These are my favorite pieces. What a journey it has been…

10. My Insanely Long Hair (February 13, 2014) – We open with a shocker. If I ever want someone to spit out their coffee, I send them the link to this blog post. Back in high school I had LONG hair that was thick, curly, and UGLY. It is definitely a sight to be seen and after reading the post you might either laugh or vomit.

i had some long hair back in the day and it made for an entertaining blog post.

9. Making the Cut: My Cameo in Darius Rucker’s Music Video (September 29, 2014) – Alright, now we go from not getting my hair cut to making the cut! It was a thrilling afternoon in the office at Coastal Carolina University when Darius Rucker released his video for “Homegrown Honey” which took place exclusively on the CCU campus and in downtown Conway. Seeing my goofy mug right next to the Hootie star himself made that day that even better. Besides my starring role in a short film that was showed on a jumbotron, this post is my very brief claim to fame.

I made the cut in Darius Rucker’s “Homegrown Honey” video.

8. Hey Southern Belle, What Have You Learned After a Year? (May 12, 2021) – Some of the blog posts on this countdown go back 10 years…this one goes back three weeks. Around the anniversary of Sidney moving to Washington, I wrote this blog post chronicling some of the major themes my wife learned from her move from the South to the West. It is lighthearted and fun, but it definitely implies that Sid is a rock star and made a major transition look easy.

It didn’t take long for Sid to adjust to Washington but she still learned things around the way.

7. $25,000 Dollar Man (October 19, 2011) – If there is a post that my loyal readers bring up more than all the others, it is the one I wrote about my brother winning BIG at the casino. On a single hand of Paigow he snagged $25,000. Not only do I describe the hand itself but I go into detail about the INSANITY that followed. Needless to say, it was quite fun to tell the outrageous story of a 21-year-old kid who blew the roof off a sleepy bowling alley casino during the wee hours of a snowy winter night.

Glen got real lucky at the table once.

6. A Man of Faith: Monsignor James LeBlanc (February 26, 2017) – I love writing profile pieces and have written numerous of them for this blog, but this one about the former St. Andrew (Myrtle Beach) pastor is particularly meaningful to me. Just the fact that Msgr. James LeBlanc married us is good enough to land him a special spot in our hearts but he did so much more than just that. He gave Sid her first true introduction to the Catholic faith and strengthened my own. About six months after he officiated our wedding, the Bishop of Charleston appointed him the pastor of a couple parishes in Columbia. After hearing the news, I wrote this colorful profile on one very excellent priest.

Sidney and I with Msgr. LeBlanc at his farewell party.

5. Farewells (April 2014 and February 2020) – For this portion of the countdown I must cheat a bit and offer my readers a 4-in-1. This is the spot where I want to include the final posts I wrote before leaving jobs. My top 10 moment entries for the University of Montana and Coastal Carolina University serve as perfect highlight reels for my time at both stops. I also hold my “final goodbye” posts at UM and CCU in high regard because I had the opportunity to recognize the people who made my experiences as a Grizzly and a Chant so amazing.

I have worked for some great employers and I tried my best to say “thank you” when I left.

4. Our Fierce Fighter (April 25, 2018) – At the end of April 2017, Sidney published something significant to Facebook. For the first time, a year after the fact, she made it publicly known that Sloan was critically ill with a rare condition called Pyloric Stenosis. It took us time to come to grips with the traumatic experience but on this particular night Sid wanted to speak out. Her purpose was simply to offer support to other families who might have a baby with PS.

Using Sid’s act of bravery as motivation, I followed up the next night with a blog post. I wrote about the emotions we felt as parents as we watched our baby daughter throw up all food that entered her system. I testified to the undeniable fight we watched Sloan exhibit throughout the entire frightening experience. I also made sure to offer education on what Pyloric Stenosis is and how it can be treated, heaping praise on Dr. Robert Cina (the head surgeon who performed Sloan’s procedure) and his entire crew at MUSC. This post put us in touch with parents who were going through the same thing we did with Sloan. Because I believe this blog post actually helped people (opposed to the 2,000 other posts that most people just find annoying), how couldn’t it be on this countdown?

This is Sloan being wheeled out of MUSC on a wagon after receiving a clean bill of health.

3. My Top Ten Photos From Our Wedding Day (July 17, 2016) – It is really tough to put into words the joy you feel on your wedding day. Although I tried to do so with several different blog posts, I don’t know if it ever did our special day justice. Thank goodness for pictures. In July, I wrote this post highlighting my absolute favorite images from June 11, 2016. Each picture says so much and helps to tell the story of that day in beautiful fashion. I still feel so much happiness looking back at this post. As a blogger, some might think that placing an entry so high on a countdown that didn’t rely much on actual writing would be a disappointment. Nope. Drafting up a blog post that uses the heart more than words is always more rewarding.

Less is more. Images over words. Counting down my favorite pictures from our wedding is one of my all-time favorite blog posts.

2. Long, Painful Process; Beautiful, Perfect Result (March 21, 2017) – Well, what can I say? These next two blog posts are going to be about the births of my children. Let me start with my firstborn. Delivering Sloan was not easy. We went through a week-long saga to meet her once Sid was admitted into the hospital. However, the drawn-out process was 100% worth it. In this post, I take you through the curvy road that started with Sid hooked up to a machine and me almost passing out to us walking out of the hospital on a sunny morning with our beautiful baby girl. This post focuses on the strength of Sidney, the gift of Sloan, and the point in time that our lives changed for the better, making it easily one of my top blog posts of all-time.

One of the best two days of my life.

1. Beau Meets World (February 17, 2020) – This wasn’t just my top post of 2020—it is my top post in the history of this blog. I tried to be raw and thorough as I chronicled the emotional 11-day journey from the moment Sidney’s doctor decided to operate to the Sunday afternoon that Beau was released from the NICU at McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence, South Carolina.

The post is special to me because it displays Sid’s courage and Beau’s grit. It also conveys the important role that faith played throughout the saga. Tough setbacks are confronted and glorious triumphs are celebrated. It isn’t saying much because I consider myself a mere novice with the pen, but from a writing aspect I think this is my finest piece. But even if most serious writers consider Beau Meets World to be garbage, it sure means a lot to Sid and I. This trumps them all.

Beau was born at 1:37 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020.

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And there you have it. After 10 years, those are the posts that stick out. Let me again extend my heartfelt gratitude to all my readers who have read my work over the years. It has been a pleasure. Don’t Blink.

My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2020

During a year that saw the cancelation of so much, somehow Don’t Blink managed to stay afloat. That’s right, this 9-year-old blog continued to grind out posts over the past 12 months. Why Brent? Hasn’t this world suffered enough in 2020?

All joking aside, writing provided a release for me during a year that was ripe with COVID anxiety and an aggressively toxic political news cycle. Because I managed to feed my blogging appetite in 2020, it means that I am in position to present my seventh annual Big Blog Post. This is my favorite entry of the year when I look back at what I wrote over the past 52 weeks, tab my 10 favorite posts, and rank them.

In 2020 I published 172 posts, up from the 165 posts  I wrote in 2019 but a far cry from the 253 posts I wrote during my peak year of 2014. Considering we added a new baby to our family along with other major life events in 2020, I won’t get down on myself for this year’s blogging output. 

As I say every year, the list is mostly reflective of my personal opinion. However, audience feedback and blog post traffic are always considered when making my final decisions. Thanks for reading in 2020 and let’s get this countdown started…

10. Beau’s Newborn Photos (November 23) – Not promising anything, but Beau might be leading AND ending the countdown this year. Not too long after Beau arrived home from the NICU, my friend and former co-worker Judy Johns came over to take newborn photos. Judy is the director of photography at Coastal Carolina University and one of the best photographers you will ever meet. In this particular post I showcase some of my favorite images from her beautiful work.

Judy’s work is incredible and I enjoyed the opportunity to include some of my favorite images in this blog post.

9. The Joys of Working From Home (August 12) – I am always careful to paint the pandemic in any type of favorable light. However, if there was one result from COVID-19 that turned out pretty well for us it was the directive to work remotely. In this blog post I reflected on what a joy it has been to work upstairs while my wife and kids are safe/content downstairs. From enjoying the early mornings to eating daily lunch with my kids to simply walking down a flight of stairs when the work day is over, this post conveyed the joys of working under my own roof.

Working from home in 2020 has been nice.

8. March 2020: I Will Never Forget (March 31) – In March, the world changed. COVID-19 introduced itself on a mainstream level and life as we knew it took a hike. But our family didn’t need the added pandemic to make it a crazy month. We packed up our house, I moved across the country, Sloan celebrated her third birthday, and I started a new job. In this blog post I looked back at a month we will never forget, beginning with seemingly normal daddy-daughter dates and ending with a bizarre earthquake. March was CRAZY and I am glad I documented it.

Before I left for Washington, I had an early birthday celebration for Sloan.

7. The Weight Loss Challenge (November 23) – During the fall, Sid and I decided to go outside our comfort zones and participate in a weight loss challenge sponsored by our gym. For six weeks we went on diets and pushed ourselves…almost to the point of insanity. This blog post traces our weight loss journey and the measures we took to be successful. In the end, we both lost weight and I even won the competition. I also come to grips with my previous unhealthy methods of dieting.

The Weight Loss Challenge proved to be successful for both of us.

6. They’re Here! (May 12) – I am not going to lie, it was hard going eight weeks without my wife and kids. I literally counted down the days until their arrival. Thus, you can imagine how ecstatic I was the afternoon they landed on Spokane soil. In this blog post I wrote about feeling whole again while also recognizing the surreality of it all. I described that first special weekend together while also being frank about the sadness of saying goodbye to Sid’s parents. It is a blog post of many different emotions and new beginnings!

It was so great to get my best friend back!

5. Until Next Time, Myrtle Beach (March 18) – I moved to South Carolina solely for a job at CCU. However, during my time out east, I received so much more than a paycheck. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the Grand Strand community and by that time I had fallen in love with a girl too. In this blog post I paid homage to what made Myrtle Beach so special. From my new family to my church to my gym to Sloan’s daycare, I wrote about how appreciative I was for the people and places that made such a positive influence on me during my time as a transplant.

Was so fortunate to become part of this great family during my time in Myrtle Beach.

4. Feeling Symmetrical (November 10) – Last month, Beau shed the corrective helmet he wore pretty much all day for three straight months. When his headgear was removed, he had a completely symmetrical head, a complete transformation from its shape in July. In this blog post I was able to show before/after photos, explain the intricacies of helmet therapy, describe the thrill of watching Beau progress, and reveal how the outside world reacted to a baby boy who wore a hard hat. It is kind of weird, it seems like forever ago that Beau had to wear his helmet but I am thankful for this blog post because it won’t let us forget the interesting challenge of correcting his misshaped head.

This was Beau’s last day in his helmet.

3. My Top 10 Favorite Moments Working for Coastal Carolina University (February 19) – During my nearly six years at Coastal Carolina University, I had the opportunity to do some really cool things. After I announced my departure from CCU, I remembered some of my defining moments as a Chanticleer. This post pretty much summarizes what a fun, diverse, and busy tenure I had in #TEALnation. This post allowed me to reflect quite a bit and I was happy to include so many of my former co-workers in it. I would write one final CCU wrap-up post but this countdown piece is my favorite.

I had some really good times working at CCU.

2. Pumped to be a Coug (March 1) – With pride and relief, I announced my new job via my blog on March 1. After keeping tight-lipped about the opportunity, it felt great to finally reveal that I had accepted a position at Washington State University. In the post I was also able to explain what I would be doing and why Sid and I decided to take the offer (so glad we did). As I re-read the post, the excitement that I wrote with brings me back to that entire crazy post-Beau’s birth/pre-pandemic period when we were preparing to move across the country. This post rates high for both significance and vividness that it is my runner up in 2020.

We took this photo for the “Pumped to be a Coug” blog post.

1. Beau Meets World (February 17) – This isn’t just my top post of 2020—it might be my top post in the history of this blog. I tried to be raw and thorough as I chronicled the emotional 11-day journey from the moment Sidney’s doctor decided to operate to the Sunday afternoon that Beau was released from the NICU at McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence, South Carolina.

The post is special to me because it displays Sid’s courage and Beau’s grit. It also conveys the important role that faith played throughout the saga. Tough setbacks are confronted and glorious triumphs are celebrated. It isn’t saying much because I consider myself a mere novice with the pen, but from a writing aspect I think this is one of my finer pieces. But even if most serious writers consider Beau Meets World to be garbage, it sure means a lot to Sid and I.

An 11-day journey of emotional twists and turns is chronicled in my top blog post of the year, “Beau Meets World.”

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Thank you to all my readers for supporting Don’t Blink throughout 2020. I can’t promise how productive I will be with my blog in 2021 but I do plan to write at least some. Tomorrow I will close out the year with my annual wrap up post and then I will be looking entirely forward to January 1. Thanks again. Don’t Blink.

My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2019
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2018
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2016
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2015
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2014

Exceeding all Expectations

When I worked in the athletic department at the University of Montana, our football team played a college I had never heard of called Coastal Carolina University during the 2013 FCS Playoffs. I thought they were a team like many of the others that would play the Griz in an early postseason game and then fade into obscurity.

In 2013, I worked a blistering cold game (as a UM employee) in which Coastal Carolina University upset the University of Montana in the FCS Playoffs. (photo courtesy of the Montana Kaimin)

As fate would have it, I started working for that college I had never heard of not too long after they eliminated the Grizzlies from the playoffs. As I started to watch the CCU football team make a name for itself on a normal grass field in the FCS, I didn’t really think they would compete beyond the level formerly known as Division I-AA.

When I arrived at CCU and worked the football games in 10,000-seat Brooks Stadium, I didn’t exactly think that the Coastal football team would one day join the FBS and host College Gameday.

Working the press conference in which CCU announced it would make the jump to the FBS, I thought it would take several seasons to become respectable in the Sun Belt Conference.

In 2015 when CCU announced it was moving to the FBS, I didn’t think a half decade later it would be hosting College Gameday.

While observing the Chanticleers struggle on the “Surf Turf” during their first couple seasons as full-fledged FBS members, I thought I might have finally made a correct prediction about CCU football.

Teal turf was installed and Brooks Stadium was expanded, all signs of a program on the rise. However, I thought that the “rise” might take several years. The Coastal football team struggled its first couple years in the FBS (photo courtesy of CCU).

Now back on the opposite side of the country, I watched as the CCU football team posted convincing victory after convincing victory on the ESPN networks. As Coastal’s undefeated record stayed intact as the weeks rolled by and the fanbase started to mention a certain college football pregame show on social media, I thought no way.

I have watched Coastal Carolina football from the opposite coast during the 2020 season.

Yesterday, this happened…

College Gameday is going to Coastal Carolina University.

Tonight I want to congratulate the Chanticleer football program for attracting the most prestigious sports pregame show to its campus while proving all the doubters (including myself) wrong. Most programs will never receive a visit from College Gameday—CCU is doing it in only its third season as a bowl eligible FBS school. Well done to the student-athletes and coaches…truly amazing work.

I also want to congratulate Coastal Carolina University in general. Unfortunately, the institution has experienced some tough times as of late but the success story of the football team is a boost that CCU needs and deserves. It couldn’t have happened at a better time. I know my former colleagues are loving this ride right now!

Enjoy this, CCU!

It will be exciting to see College Gameday set up shop on the campus I spent almost six years on. I look forward to the broadcast and to seeing social media posts from my CCU friends. Just like with its College World Series victory in 2016, I know #TEALnation will savor this moment in the national spotlight. Don’t Blink.

Farewell, CCU

Reality has finally sunk in. I have reached the end of my time at Coastal Carolina University, a place that has provided me with fulfilling work and lasting memories. It has been a nearly six-year journey, one that has encompassed the better half of my professional career. It is impossible to properly convey in a blog post all what CCU has meant to me, but at the very least I can use it to offer a few final thoughts before I close this chapter.

It has been an honor to wear this name tag.

I feel blessed that I worked at CCU during its glory years. When I started in May 2014, Coastal Carolina was an FCS-institution on a nice, quiet campus. By the time 2018 rolled around, enrollment had steadily increased, fundraising broke records, several state-of-the-art buildings had been erected, Ph.D. programs were being offered, a major NCAA championship had been won, and the athletic program had joined the BCS. These years of upgrades, milestones, and increased prestige served as a breeding ground for a social media program to explode.

I had the good fortune of being at the right place at the right time under a leadership team that made a dedicated commitment to social media. I had the freedom to think and act creatively with marketing and communication professionals who helped turn ideas into reality. From day one, it was an absolute blast.

I had the privilege to develop a Chanticleer social media voice, interview students, cover events, design campaigns, provide comfort in times of vulnerability, lecture in classes, chat with the media, jump head-first into paid digital advertising, and so much more. The backdrop for all this excitement was a special Feel the Teal culture that you just won’t find at other places.

Looking back at my time at CCU it all seems almost too good to be true. Not because the university is just minutes from the beach or because the school colors are some of the best in the nation, but because of something else. Something not so superficial.

I am talking about my University Marketing and Communication team.

My wish is to go out giving credit to the people who helped me on a daily basis; the people who literally optimized their talents to make our social media program better even when they had a thousand other things to do. If not for them, #CCUSocialMedia is not what it is today.

Let me start with Bill Plate (department vice president, now at Utah State), the man whose innovativeness and vision made me not think twice about moving across the country. Bill took marketing at CCU to new heights, placing a premium on social media. He taught me more than just marketing—he taught me that effective leadership is about humility, levelheadedness, and trust in the team. Thanks for hiring me, Bill.

Bill Plate with Martha Hunn at Bill’s going away lunch. Both these individuals are incredible leaders who earned the respect of the University Marketing and Communication team.

The first person I ever met at CCU was Martha Hunn (chief communication officer). She picked me up from the hotel for my on-campus interview in March 2014 and immediately I thought this person has it together. She taught me how to be poised and composed when the media came calling and always made sure I had everything I needed on the social media front when major university statements were released.

Another photo of the two leaders who shaped University Marketing and Communication…Bill Plate and Martha Hunn.

For the majority of my time at CCU, I had the good fortune of reporting directly to Lindsi Glass (associate vice president for marketing and branding, now at Utah State). You won’t find anyone more creative, smart, and FUN! Lindsi allowed me to flex my social media muscle while at the same time expanding my horizons in the marketing world beyond just social. She was a tremendous team player, someone who effortlessly connected with everyone in the department and threw the best Kentucky Derby parties ever. If not for Lindsi, I would not have had my career moment late last year when we presented in Las Vegas. Lindsi and I understood each other and shared character traits, making for a great working relationship and paving the way for a personal support system as well.

Lindsi and I could always relate with each other.

Perhaps one of the best developments during my time working in University Marketing and Communication was when Judy Johns was elevated to director of photography. This was a game changer for not only our social media program but for CCU as a whole. Not only did she modernize Coastal’s photography operation and build a team that clicks (no pun intended) on all cylinders, but, like Lindsi, she is the epitome of a team player.

Judy Johns (to my left) always went out of her way to help me.

Scott Dean and Tad Robinson, the other two professional photographers of the unit, would literally drop anything they were doing to help me, whether it be to take a photo or find one.

During my time as a Chanticleer, the emphasis in social media switched to video. David Russell, newly installed as the director of video production at the time, didn’t hesitate to throw the talents of his unit behind #CCUSocialMedia. If I asked David to assign one of his videographers to a social media project and no one was available, he would step in himself. On a personal note, David and his wife, Robin, went out of their way to provide support to Sid and I after Sloan was diagnosed with Pyloric Stenosis. I will never forget that.

Most of the time when David would assign a videographer to a social media project, he would turn to Geoff Insch. My best friend in the entire department, Geoff and I collaborated on numerous projects during my time at CCU. He knows how to create video for social media and is damn good at it. Geoff did everything I ever asked of him and we had a lot of fun together. I will miss his positive attitude and our shared love for all things nerdy.

Two nerds! Can’t say enough about Geoff Insch.

I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize Richard Green, our digital journalist. Richard is one of the hardest working people I have ever met and constantly provided high quality video content for use on our social channels. He was always a joy to coordinate with and a true example of a consummate professional.

The graphics team led by Rob Wyeth provided me with creative designs from the moment I stepped foot on campus. Whether it was a logo for an organic campaign, graphic for a major (sometimes minor) holiday, or something for a paid social media ad, “the guys”––Jonathan Ady, Regis Minerd, Ron Walker, Daniel “Scoops” Mableton––would always have my back. Special thanks to these gentlemen for welcoming me to their lunch table when I was brand new at CCU and for inviting me out for beer and movies.

This would be a great “Caption This” photo. That is Rob Wyeth on the right.

At the end of 2018, I had the opportunity to hire a social media specialist. Anthony Bowser joined our team and instantly improved #CCUSocialMedia with his creative ephemeral storytelling, witty Instagram captions, and Gen Z-first outlook. He has a bright future ahead of him!

Anthony Bowser has brought a spark to our social media program. Katie Ennis has been an incredible student intern for us since 2018.

AP Style was valued by #CCUSocialMedia and editors Caroline Rohr, Mel Smith, Mona Prufer, and JoAnne Dalton would always quickly turn around anything I gave them for proofing. They helped us look good in front of our audience!

Speaking of quick turnaround time, Brentley Broughton (web design manager) would promptly assist with any issue I was having while navigating the university’s content management system. He also taught me a thing or two on the golf course.

Thanks to Trenny Neff (trademark and licensing coordinator) for processing all our social media advertising bills, Jeanne Caldwell (graphics project manager) for assigning and delivering all my graphics requests, and Doug Bell (editor of Coastal Magazine) for believing in the social media guy to write the cover story for a major publication.

Special thanks to my student social media interns over the years: Jada Tomlinson, Lauren Eckersley, Eddie Harris, Monica Trepiccione, Temperance Russell, Brandon Brown, Michelle Rashid, and Katie Ennis. It has been a joy to watch many of these former students thrive in the professional world.

I worked with some very talented social media interns during my time at CCU. In this photo I am with Eddie and Monica.

Last but not least, I want to give an extra special thank you to Kimberly Harper, the administrative assistant of University Marketing and Communication. When I would introduce my student interns to her, I would simply describe her as the MVP of our department. She does everything for everybody in MarComm, doing far more than just serving the vice president. If there was a glue within University Marketing and Communication it would be Kim. I will miss her.

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Of course everything would have been in vain without an audience that was passionate about Coastal Carolina University and hungry for social media content. To the thousands of #TEALnation supporters who gave me such satisfaction on a daily basis, THANK YOU.

Although I now look forward to my next adventure in higher education, I will never forget CCU. My experience as a Chanticleer made me a better professional and person. At this time, there is really only one final thing to say…

CHANTS UP!

Don’t Blink.

Forever A Chanticleer

Graduating students at Coastal Carolina University are reminded of something at every commencement. At the end of the ceremony a representative from the Office of Alumni Relations will take the podium to encourage the new grads to keep in touch with the University. The last words of the address, regardless of who is delivering it, are always the same:

Remember, you will forever be a Chanticleer!

Although I did not graduate from CCU, I like to think that the sentiment can be applicable to departing staff members as well.

I recently concluded my time at Coastal Carolina University.

My time at Coastal Carolina University recently concluded. As of last Friday at 5 p.m., I am no longer an employee of #TEALnation. I have accepted a position at another university and will start next month. To all my colleagues who I did not get to say goodbye to, I apologize. I intended to let everyone know about my departure in person but the early delivery of our son and a stay in the NICU changed those plans. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed working at Coastal Carolina, something I hope to make clear with a couple blog posts over the next week. Without the opportunity I received almost six years ago to serve this special place, my life would be completely different and much less fulfilling. I owe the world to CCU.

Due to life events (you know, like having a baby?!) and thanks to the overwhelming patience and understanding of my new employer, I will be around the area for several more weeks. I am blessed to have the opportunity to be a stay-at-home dad for nearly a month. This transition period will allow me to spend precious days with Sloan and bond with Beau.

My wife is the best. Despite everything going on with our growing family, she has given me the blessing to pursue this opportunity. What more can I say?

CCU, it is time for me to properly thank you. I will do this by reflecting on the events and people that made my tenure so memorable. Stay tuned, there is more to come. Don’t Blink.

A Sizzling Darlington Press Conference

It was another day to file underneath the “my job is so cool” file. This morning I set off with some of my University Marketing and Communication team members to Darlington Raceway.

We were heading to the race track for a car unveil and I was brought along to cover the event on social media. If you read this blog often, you are familiar with Brandon Brown, a NASCAR driver we have sponsored since his time as a CCU student. Now an alumnus of our University, we have continued our partnership with Brandon as he races fulltime in the Xfinity Series. Anyway, Brandon was unveiling his paint scheme today for the Darlington Throwback Weekend that takes place at the end of the month.

Brandon and I a couple years ago.

The unveil was done in grand fashion. Coastal Carolina University, Darlington Raceway, and Brandonbilt Motorsports (Brandon’s racing team) staged a press conference right at turn #3 on the track famously nicknamed Too Tough to Tame. With Coastal Carolina University track signage serving as the backdrop to the covered car, anticipation was high for the big reveal.

When we arrived, Darlington Raceway already had everything set up for the press conference.

Oh, wait one second please, there was another important piece I should mention.

Brandon Brown wasn’t the only NASCAR driver participating in the press conference. Joining him was NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte. To be 100% honest, I was a little unfamiliar with the legendary status of Labonte but I was made aware of my ignorance when I told my father-in-law who I was going to meet today. He let me know that Terry is kind of a big deal in the world of racing. This guy won at Darlington twice and is a household name in NASCAR circles.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte (far right) also had a seat at the press conference.

But why was Labonte there? Well, for Throwback Weekend the active drivers turn back the clock and use a paint scheme from a driver of the past. This year Darlington is paying homage to the 1990-94 era and Brandon liked the idea of using a design that reflected the one used by the Hall of Famer. Terry Labonte was honored to let Brandon run (or race) with it.

Brandon and Terry at the press conference (photo courtesy of Lindsi Glass).

When Brandon, Terry, and Martha Hunn, our chief communication officer, pulled back the cover, a sharp-looking Kellogg’s Corn Flakes 1993 design graced Brandon’s ZL1 Camaro.

A look at Brandon with his Terry Labonte throwback car.

The No. 86 car looked great with the black, white, and bronze color scheme. On the hood, our Chanticleer athletics logo took the spot of the traditional Corn Flakes rooster. The reaction from the people in attendance and those on social media made it clear that the scheme was a hit. It was another great accomplishment by our CCU design team.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series Twitter account was pretty complimentary of our design.

After Brandon and Terry took time to scope out the car, they gave interviews to the media chomping at the bit to get reaction from both drivers.

I snapped this photo of Brandon and Terry.

Did I mention it was hot? Oh man it was a sizzling South Carolina August day. But the temperature doesn’t really matter when you are sweating it out with your fellow co-workers. Besides Martha, I was joined by these other talented individuals:
Lindsi Glass, assistant vice president for marketing and branding, set the press conference up and handled all of the logistics.
Geoff Insch, one of our production assistants, took footage and will be releasing one of his trademark quality videos tomorrow.
Scott Dean, assistant photographer, braved the heat and captured some spectacular images.
Daniel “Scoops” Mableton, graphic designer, could be considered the star of the show because he designed the scheme.

It was another one of those days where we felt like we were truly succeeding at promoting the University’s brand. We enjoyed lunch together at a local Darlington café before returning to campus to continue to market the  institution we work for. Best of luck to Brandon on Aug. 31! Don’t Blink.

Another Season of #CCUfamily in the Books

Quite frequently, I accept invitations from professors to speak to their classes about social media. Often, a student will ask me why I love my job. I will reply that I enjoy formulating a social voice for CCU, that I embrace working in an industry that is growing each day, and that I thrive off the pressure of communicating clearly and effectively when it matters most. I will usually end my answer by saying that, best of all, I get to work with college students daily.

I enjoy speaking to CCU classes about social media.

Today we wrapped up filming the third season of #CCUfamily, a social media campaign that I pitched way back in 2014 when I interviewed for my job. The current incarnation of #CCUfamily debuted during the 2016-17 academic year and over the course of those three years, we have featured 270 students.

#CCUfamily has been a very successful social media campaign for our University.

Ah yes, the key word is students. Out of all the ways I have the privilege of connecting with students on campus (internship program, social media advocate council, speaking engagements, etc.), nothing introduces me to a larger or more diverse group as #CCUfamily.

The goal of #CCUfamily is to develop engaging digital profiles of our student body. We publish three profiles per week that are published in unique ways on our website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram channels – an integrated campaign at its best! But of course the content doesn’t create itself. In order to be successful, we need full cooperation from the students we feature. There is a lot of coordination that goes on with the students prior to filming but the interview day is definitely the most satisfying part. This is when we meet our talented Chanticleers and catch them at their best. Connections are always developed that last until they graduate and beyond. It is rewarding.

I would not be able to do #CCUfamily without Geoff Insch. This afternoon we took the below photo after our final shoot to celebrate the end of a great season.

Notice how I keep referring to “we” in context of this project? Aside from our subjects, I don’t do this alone. Geoff Insch, one of our production managers, is the guy who keeps this campaign afloat. He films the interviews and then edits each one into an enticing package. This semester, a third member joined our #CCUfamily team. Anthony Bowser, our social media specialist, does behind-the-scenes work and writes some of the student profiles.

The three of us really enjoy doing these shoots. As I mentioned, meeting the students is awesome. However, it is also fun for our little production gang to converse about the students after they leave. We marvel about how talented they are and how further along (at least compared to me) they seem to be at that age than us (me). Students are nominated to participate in #CCUfamily, thus ensuring that those profiled are high quality individuals. It is a pleasure to meet the best and brightest of Coastal.

It has been a pleasure working on #CCUfamily. Here is an example of one of the profiles we did last month.

After three years of interviewing 270 students, Geoff and I have a lot of stories! Every now and then, we reminisce about the unique moments of our #CCUfamily journey. Good memories have been made and even better work has been produced. On Friday we will release the final #CCUfamily profile of the 2018-19 academic year but don’t get too sad – it will be back in 2019-20. Don’t Blink.

A Half Decade at CCU

On May 1, 2014, I started a new stage in my life. That morning I reported to work at a different college campus, thousands of miles from my previous one. A half decade later, that “different” college campus isn’t so different anymore – it is home.

I took this photo the morning of May 1, 2014 — my first day at Coastal Carolina University.

As I celebrate my fifth anniversary at Coastal Carolina University, I can’t help but feel fortunate that I found #TEALnation. Wanting to manage the social media program of a university at the flagship level, I graciously accepted the opportunity given to me by CCU and said goodbye to the athletic department at the University of Montana.

These are some of the kind bosses/co-workers who greeted me with such open arms when I arrived at CCU in 2014.

I couldn’t have asked for a better situation to come into. Working out of the Office of University Communication, my bosses gave me the freedom to build CCU’s social media program according to the vision I presented during the interview process. When I arrived, my main objective was to establish a social brand (#CCUSocialMedia) that told the stories of #CCU. Because of the support I received, social media at CCU flourished. #CCUSocialMedia has won over a dozen national awards, earned recognition as one of the top higher education social media programs in the country, enjoyed exponential growth, and generated extensive media coverage.

Because of the freedom to take chances and because of the talented co-workers around me, #CCUSocialMedia has won over a dozen national awards in five years.

But this blog post isn’t about individual accomplishments. In fact, the accolades above were only possible because of the people I work with (more on them soon). Rather, the purpose of this post is to recognize how proud I am to be associated with this institution. In the five years I have been here, I have seen our University open up multiple academic buildings, roll out doctoral programs, produce Fulbright Scholars, set records for fundraising, undergo a complete website redesign, grow at a strategic pace, make the major athletic move to the FBS, and win a baseball national championship…just to name a few. To have a front row seat for all these defining moments has been a pleasure.

The day CCU announced plans to join the Sun Belt Conference was a lot of fun!.

These CCU triumphs over the past five years paved the way for a constant stream of excitement that rushed through this entire campus. I tried to grab hold of this energy and make my own CCU moments. During my time as a CCU staffer I have appeared in a Darius Rucker music video, attended national conferences, traveled with the men’s basketball team to the NCAA tournament, hosted my own social media segment, wrote a cover story for our alumni magazine, followed our CCU-sponsored NASCAR driver to a few races, experienced an eclipse at complete totality, covered the baseball team’s national championship parade/stadium celebration, and much more.

I have had so many memorable times while working at CCU.

Again, just like with the industry accomplishments, I would have been deprived of the memorable moments without my bosses and co-workers. If not for Bill Plate, Martha Hunn, and Matt Hogue I would not be here at Coastal. Those three comprised the hiring committee that ended up granting me the opportunity of a lifetime. If not for my incredible supervisor, Lindsi Glass, I would not have been able to grow as a professional and feel so comfortable coming to work each day. If not for Kim Harper, the best administrative assistant to ever walk the planet, many of our fun social media promotions would be derailed by red tape. And, if not for my talented and selfless co-workers, the success of our #CCUSocialMedia program would be non-existent. Because of our graphic designers (Rob, Jeanne, Regis, Ron, Scoops, Jady), photographers (Judy, Scott, Tad), video wizards (David, Geoff, Richard, Dennis, Josh), web personnel (Brentley and Marty) and writers (Caroline, Mel, Doug, Mona), we have incredible content to share each day. They take our social media presence to the next level and make me look good. Even more importantly, they are all humble people and trusted friends.

I have had the pleasure of working with so many great people in the Office of University Communication at CCU.

Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the final joy of working on this campus: the students. In five years, I have had many motivated and savvy students work for me and I have met countless others who have participated in many of my wacky social media campaigns/promotions. It goes without saying that I am beyond appreciative – without students, I don’t have a job.

I have been blessed to be around some amazing students. This photo is of me with Eddie and Monica, two of my former student interns.

A lot has changed in five years. My title has changed, the name of our department has changed, and our top leader has changed. But one aspect has not: Coastal Carolina University is a great place to work. I am thankful to the CCU administration and the state of South Carolina for employing me. I look forward to the next five years. Don’t Blink.

Low Carb Pizza Thursday Rundown

Peace be with you! I hope you have had a nice week and that you are fully recovered from your Super Bowl parties. Let’s get started with tonight’s five topics.

Keto Snack – I usually don’t eat anything keto-related, but I made a recent exception. What you see below is tortilla pizza, a dish that Sid made from the keto cookbook that Sloan gave her as a birthday gift. You simply take a low carb tortilla and layer it with sauce and cheese. Sid then cooked it on the stove. Although this is too light for a meal, it sure made for a great snack.

This is the tortilla pizza that Sidney made.

The Claw – This morning I saw a story about a unique situation in Alabama. A toddler managed to trap himself in a claw arcade machine. Do you know what I mean? I am talking those games where you position a three-pronged claw to grab a stuffed animal or other toy long enough so it is dropped and dispensed. The boy crawled up through the dispensing door, finding himself right in the middle of toy land. He required rescue assistance from the fire department.

I remember when I was 7 or 8. I was at a Safeway with my mom. As we were leaving, I watched an adult woman play a claw machine. She put a dollar in and failed at both attempts. She put another dollar in. No luck. Then another dollar and another dollar. Still another dollar. After what seemed like $20 (far more than any of the prizes in the cage), she managed to capture a stuffed animal, the claw successfully grasping it long enough to dispense it. Without saying more than two words, she grabbed her hard earned prize and handed it to me as she walked out into the parking lot.

This boy trapped himself in a claw machine.

Sloan Update – Just the latest ramblings on Sloan…she is turning into an accomplished singer. She has about 6-7 songs in her repertoire that she will perform for us. She has her ABCs down and her favorite letter is S. She can finally say her name after learning the names of everyone else in her life first. Her daycare has taught her so much, including animal sounds and table etiquette. She constantly says “church” but sometimes she can’t stay still once we actually arrive and sit in the pew. She loves cats but dislikes dogs. She lives a good life.

Some recent Sloan photos…the top image is with her friend, Riley.

Getting GIPHY With It – At #CCUSocialMedia, we know GIFs aren’t going anywhere. In fact, we realize they are as popular and versatile as ever. We have plunged head first into the new brand accounts offered by GIPHY. Thanks to our new social media specialist, Anthony Bowser, our presence on the platform has been felt. Anthony created an entire selection of unique CCU GIFs, quickly racking up over 1.4 million views on our account. The best part is that these Chanticleer-inspired GIFs are available for use on Instagram Story and Snapchat. Want to add some teal to your Story? Simply type “Coastal Carolina University” in the GIF bar.

Make sure to add these Coastal Carolina University GIFs to your Instagram Story.

Happy Birthday, Monopoly! – The game of Monopoly turns 84 today. I think all of us have memories of games that lasted for hours. For me, playing Monopoly as a kid made me feel sophisticated and grown up. We certainly didn’t play by all the official rules (we seriously sweetened the Free Parking jackpot) but we grasped the lessons that Monopoly teaches – buying/selling, managing money, strategy. As long as I got to be the cannon game piece and didn’t land on Broadway when it was owned by someone else, I was a happy camper. Happy birthday to this classic game!

Happy birthday, Monopoly!

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I appreciate your time this evening and I hope you enjoy your weekend. Remember that the Grammy’s are on this Sunday night. Don’t Blink.

Messy Thursday Rundown

Dang, I can’t believe it is Thursday already. The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday has my head spinning. Let’s begin tonight’s Thursday Rundown…

What A Mess – Let toddlers be toddlers! Sloan has created several messes this past week. You would have thought that her cherry popsicle suddenly melted on her face and it looks quite convincing that she wore more of her spaghetti than actually ate it. Then you have the Goldfish. This was not the first time she managed to steal a bag of the cheddar crackers and dump them out during the 10 seconds that daddy turned his head…and it most likely won’t be the last. Oh well, until she stains the carpet everything is OK!

Sloan has had a messy week.

Origin of Cookie Dough Ice Cream – As someone who has quite the history with chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, I was a little surprised to discover that the flavor itself has a rather short history. Chocolate chip cookie dough didn’t hit grocery store coolers until 1991 when it was invented by Ben and Jerry’s. I found out this information when reading about its “Core” cookie dough ice cream flavors, the premium ice cream company’s latest rollout. These selections contain a cookie dough core with two different flavors of ice cream surrounding it. For example, the Sweet Like Sugar Cookie Dough Core option has a sugar cookie dough core and is layered with cherry ice cream and sweet cream ice cream. One of these pints is in my future!

These new “Core” flavors from Ben and Jerry’s look incredible!

Interesting Old Pictures – I follow a Twitter account that goes by the handle @HistoricalStuff. Its sole purpose is to tweet out old photos and some of the content is really interesting (stuff that I am a complete sucker for). I have included a couple of the more interesting photos I have seen this week. The first image shows Marilyn Monroe on her final photo shoot before she passed away. In my opinion, she doesn’t look as glamorous in this photo as she does in some of her more popular images, something that I can appreciate. She looks much more authentic and a little worn – but still pretty! The second photo is of Charlie Chaplin without makeup or a costume. So interesting to see him as just a regular guy.

Marilyn Monroe on the left and Charlie Chaplin on the right courtesy of @historicalstuff.

Joe Moglia Steps Down – At the end of the day last Friday, a press conference was held and Joe Moglia stepped down as head football coach at Coastal Carolina University. The former business executive said he just felt like it was time. I knew about Moglia and his unique story before I even got to CCU. When I was still at Montana, the Chanticleers came to town for a playoff game. On a frigid day in Missoula, Moglia outdueled another favorite coach of mine, Mick Delaney, to pull off the upset. Once I started working for CCU, it was fascinating to observe firsthand Coach Joe’s unconventional, yet highly successful, approach to running a football program.

Last Friday, Joe Moglia stepped down as head football coach at Coastal Carolina University. Social media posts were in order!

Still Not a Fan – Two years ago on this date, I wrote about the disdain I have for Top 40 music that was created in the early 2000s. I was pretty hard on the songs and artists of that era as I held nothing back. Do you think the past 730 days have softened by stance? Hardly! In fact, I think I hate the music from that time even more. Make sure to read the post to find out the song I tagged as the absolute worst of the era (it is really, really bad).

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Thank you for joining me for another Thursday Rundown. Tomorrow is the beginning of someone’s birthday weekend so I better sign off so I can prepare. See you next week! Don’t Blink.