Sunday, March 27, 2011

March Madness: A Look Back

In Houston, we lost to Baylor. They were a solid team and we came out flat. They wiped us out pretty good.

But that night we returned to the hotel where hundreds of alums and students took pride in the unknown Gaels getting as far as we did.

In five previous appearances in the Tourny, we had a total of one win. In 2010, we had two.

We surprised people and introduced them to an underrated, unknown team. We had something to celebrate for the entire month of March.

We were on top of the world.

One song I couldn't stop listening to during that time is "Hills and Valleys" by The Rocket Summer. We were on top of the world.

And so was I. Not only did I get to go to the tournament, be on the floor for the games, travel to two different states, and during March spend more nights in a hotel than my own bed, but it was more than that for me. Shooting those videos and getting the feedback I did helped me prove to myself that I could do what I wanted to: shoot and edit videos to entertain people.

Also, during those two weeks, I became very close with someone I'd met a few weeks prior. She was also a senior, at Gonzaga University, and had her heart set on becoming a sports reporter. We talked over the phone everyday about college, work, sports, television. Our talks, several hours long, helped me set my sights on getting into the TV industry.

Couple those together: goal-setting, confidence, and a support system and that's the beginnings of how I ended up where I ended up. For the time being at least.

There's a lot that came from those two weeks. Memories, fun, travel, career direction. But that was just me.
Take some of those feelings of belonging, recognition, and nationwide success and consider every Gael who felt that way. It was a momentous March for Saint Mary's.

I started working on a feature-type of piece for the school using footage I shot and from CSN Bay Area trying to tie up all those emotions into one video. I finished the first cut about a year ago and haven't gotten around to adding or taking away anything else.

I'd like to share it with you now. It makes me think of the great moments and accomplishments of the team and great SMC community last year. Hope it does the same for you.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

March Madness: Houston Shootaround

If the Gaels 2010 had a theme it would revolve around one thing: Having Fun.

Omar makes sure that everyone is relaxed no matter how significant the situation is. Check out how much fun the team was having in this public shootaround practice Thursday, the day before the big game.

Here's a picture of me earlier in the day. I was eating a Chipotle burrito and decided smiling would show off all the shredded pork stuck between my teeth.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March Madness: Arriving in Houston, TX

Next stop on the March Madness tour: Houston, Texas.

But it wasn't a guaranteed trip for me. When we got back from Rhode Island, I contacted the Athletics Department and asked if I'd be going to to Houston. I was told, "at this time, we're not going to be able to take you." I was shocked. I was sure I was going. This was Sunday evening, less than 24 hours after getting back from the first trip, I was not going to be joining the second portion. Neat.

I had to go for broke. I had to show them that I was worth taking.

That evening I uploaded all the footage from the return home the night before and spent a few hours editing it together, posting it to YouTube and passing the word around Facebook. It spread like wildfire and a few days later had about 7,000 views.

It got passed around online. KNBR talked about during an interview with Mickey McConnell. It was featured on a Yahoo Sports Blog. Awesome!

On Tuesday, I got a call from the Athletics Dept again. They had room for me on the trip. I was going.

Now, I don't know if the popularity of that video was the reason, but I don't doubt that it helped.

Regardless, we left early Wednesday morning, before 7 am. There were live vans from all the local news stations, grabbing shots and interviews at our send-off.

A long, four-hour flight later we were in Houston. Just as in Providence, the team had a practice that night. It was at Rice University, and I was invited.

I wanted to make this video different from the other one. Something needed to change. I couldn't interview anyone. So, in my mind, it had to visually look different. I wasn't sure how to do it, but I figured I'd try shooting in slow motion.

Instead of shooting 30 frames each second, I'd shoot 60 and extend it out. Everything looked like it was happening twice as slow as it normally would.

That night, I got back to the hotel and loved the footage. I cut it together and was trying to find the right soundtrack. Only one band seemed right: Explosions in the Sky. They're play what's called post-rock. Explosions form Sky is an instrumental band, coincidentally from Texas.

I spent a good portion of the night hanging with some of the band members and cheer leaders. While they talked and laughed and had fun, I was glued to the computer, timing each shot, perfecting each edit, and waiting for YouTube to upload the video.

Finally, at 3AM, it was up.

To this day it's still one of my favorite videos. Some of my friends on the cheer team agree. They call it: "The Video That Makes Me Cry."

Again, I posted it to Facebook and it spread like wildfire. The next day it was posted to a blog on the ESPN Website. Thanks, Diamond.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

March Madness: Return to Campus

We were on top of the world. Two upset victories, the ever-quotable Omar Samhan averaging more than 30 points in the frist two games, and a half dozen rambunctious Aussies who may not fully grasp how big of a deal March Madness is -- we are a double-digit seeded, mid-major team that's got America behind it.

Only two hours after the final buzzer sounded we were on the bus headed back to California. It was still light out when we got on the plane and nearly 10pm when we landed in San Francisco.

We'd heard that some of the local TV news stations had brought out live vans and were waiting for us at the airport. We'd heard that there was a "welcome party" waiting for us on campus. I took both of these with a grain of salt. "No way they care about little old Saint Mary's, tucked away in the hills of a town no one's heard of," I thought. "No one thinks of the team as some deified group. There won't be anyone there."

But I was wrong.

Hundreds and hundreds of students, professors, Christian Brothers, staff members, Moraga natives and their children, and fans were lined up waiting for us!

It was then that I realized that what we had accomplished was bigger than just two basketball wins. We stood up for small schools across the country, saying "we belong." We stood up for Saint Mary's, not just the school, the students, the athletic program, but the entire SMC community -- Gaels everywhere. We stood up and said "take notice."

I say "we stood up" even though only 12 players suited up for the game. "We" because that's the impact of these wins in galvanizing our community. Anyone who had any affiliation to the school bought in. And it paid off.

We were right in the middle of it all. Soaking it in.

At the end of the video, Omar is asked: What do you have to say to these fans out here?
"Thanks for everything. We're not done, yet. We're not done, yet."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

March Madness: Game 2 - Villanova

I knew we would win.

I didn't want to say anything because 1.) I didn't want to jinx it and 2.) all of the band members, cheerleaders, and alums in hotel and stands were pretty darn nervous. But I knew it.

We were taking Villanova from the big, bad Big East.

The best moments: Frosh Matthew Delladova slips and keeps his dribble and nails a 3 (1:30), Freshmen on the bench praying for made FTs (1:45), Mickey McConnell with a huge 3 off the glass (1:50).

After the game there were some priceless soundbites, which I'll be posting in the look-back next weekend.

We didn't have much time to savor the win, we flew out of Providence that night. We were welcomed back by something unreal, late at night Saturday night. I'll be showing that video on Sunday.

But before we left there was some lobby partying.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March Madness: Game 1 - Richmond

The Dunk was filled. Adrenaline was pumping. Game 1. Ten seed Gaels taking on the big, bad Seven-seed Spiders from Richmond.

I knew we had it in the bag. I could feel it.

There's a pageantry about a NCAA Tourny game you can't feel unless it's actually happening. Maybe it's the black and blue floors. Maybe it's the esteemed announcers. Maybe it's the feeling that there's seven other teams in the stadium hoping the same exact thing as your team and knowing seven other cities are seeing the same exact thing. You're one of 64.

It only takes six wins to be the champion. But only team can win it all.

It starts with one.

The Associated Press snapped this winner of a picture that made it to the New York Times. I think that was the highest that Omar's ever jumped in his life. And I'm ok with that.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

March Madness: Shootaround

First full day in Providence, Rhode Island.

It started relatively early. 11:00AM. Ok, ok. I know 11 sounds really late. But let me put it this way: It was 11 Eastern. 8 Pacific. This is right after springing forward the weekend before. So really, it's 7:00 according to my body. Also, I was a college senior so I don't typically wake up until noon anyway. That was an exaggeration.

There's no real artistry, structure, or story to the video below. It's a mix of some of my favorite shots and moments from the shootaround.

Shootaround is a public "practice." About a hundred people and a huge group of elementary-aged kids were in the stands. An ESPN Australia crews was on scene, interviewing and shooting promos with our Aussie players and coach.

But I think my favorite part of this video is in the first shot. Look at the eyes and faces of the players as they enter The Dunkin' Donuts Center (The Dunk). You see them soaking it in. It's way bigger than our McKeon Pavillion. They can't help but let smiles overcome their faces. Their eyes light up. Someone says, "You can fit 10,000 people in here." Even Randy Bennett can't help biting his lips to hide a smile.

That's what this tournament is all about. Giving every team the opportunity to win it all. It all starts here...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March Madness: Arriving in Providence, RI

Plane ticket in hand, I sit at OAK waiting for our charter flight. Sweet!

We left before sunrise Tuesday morning and finally landed a little before sunset Eastern time. Big change. But not insurmountable.

A half hour after arriving in Rhode Island, the team headed out for a quick practice. I tagged along and shot a little video.

Nothing too crazy. I was directed to "take it easy" this evening. I stayed upstairs for most of the evening, soaking it all in and convincing myself it was all real.

It was.
And it was just beginning.

Monday, March 14, 2011

March Madness: Starting Off

In 2010, March was madness.

Saint Mary's went to dancing. We won the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. We were part of March Madness.
I was part of March Madness.

I was able to convince the powers-that-be in the Athletic Department that they needed to bring me with the team. I would document the trip, create videos for the team and staff, and post them to the web.

I knew this was going to be awesome.
It was.

It started one year ago today, Monday. For the next two weeks or so, I'm going to take you back in time with me. Each day I'll recap what happened one year ago ago.

Here's a rundown of what you can expect:
Tuesday: Arriving in Providence, RI
Wednesday: Media Day
Thursday: Round 1 win over Richmond
Saturday: Round 2 win over Villanova
Sunday: Return to Campus
Wednesday: Travel to Houston
Thursday: Media Day
Friday: Losing to Baylor
Saturday: Coming back to SMC
Sunday: A Look Back

There will be tons of videos, a handful of pictures, a couple of songs, and lots of memories.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I've been busy

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. Weekdays have kept me busy (10+ hour work days) and weekends have been filled with fun (sledding, skiing, and friends).

Here's a quick picturesque run-through of the past few weekends (sledding in Union Creek, skiing Mt. Ashland, and drinks and dancing on Saturdays)

It's not that I dislike blogging, writing, and updating my friends and family about what I'm doing. I just am having a lot of fun taking adventures. Like this weekend, I'm heading to Portland for the Shamrock Run 5K.

Sadly, no new posts in the very near future... but there's a lot of stuff brewing...
Including, why this time last year was one of the best stretches of my life, some general and specific thoughts about journalism, and a look back 2010 (I know I've promised that one for a while, but it's coming, Grandpa).

It's coming... just not right now.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I got boo-ed today

At NewsWatch 12, our tagline is "Watching Out for You." We are a community partner. We partner with the community. We serve the community. Or at least we try to.

Tuesday, there was a Senior Fair. Seniors had the chance to get free health screenings, information about social services, and free giveaways.

There's also Free Bingo. With celebrity callers. Minor celebrities
Minor celebrities meaning NewsWatch 12 personalities.

Kaylin Krashesky, Erin Maxson, Me, Chris Leone, and Kristin Ketchell

I called Bingo from 10a-11a. It was really fun. Made some jokes (B-4, and after) and told them my theory that B-13 would be a winning number.
I felt like things were going well.

Until I called the wrong number.

The Ball was G-54, I looked too quickly, and it said G-55.
Krisin saw the mistake and corrected me.

I got booed. By a few dozen seniors.

If that weren't enough, there's video evidence of all of this.
Kaylin was in the room, shooting a story on the fair and our involvement. She happened to be rolling, when the mistake was made and the boo-birds came out.

It got quite the laugh in the newsroom.

Some nuggets you might want to listen for:
Senior saying: Come on!
Me saying: My contacts are a little blurry today.
Kristin: You can't send a man to do a woman's job

I like to think the crowd was booing, because we had such a good relationship.
Yeah, that's what it was.