Thursday, January 27, 2011

Behind The Scenes

January 26th, 2011 2:00 P.M. @ my house:

I had just gotten out of the shower and I was getting into the back of my dads suburban. We were about to make our way to the metro station to catch the train to go into DC. It was raining but we really had nothing to worry about.

2:30 P.M. @ Metro Station:

We boarded the train that we were going to take to the metro center. At the metro center, we were going to get off the train and then walk three blocks down to the Verizon Center.

3:00 P.M. @ Verizon Center:

I stood outside the "Media Gate" on the corner of G Street and 6th Street. I had finally arrived. I was told to call the director and he would give me further instructions. He said he would be at the gate in about ten minutes to give me my "press pass" and then we would go from there.

3:10 P.M. @ Media Gate:

A man walked up to the gate and asked me if I was Brian Skinnell. I told him yes and that he must be the Director. He handed me a "press pass" with my name written on it in red sharpie. He told me that with this badge I could go virtually anywhere "but on the court" in the Verizon Center. I then said farewell to my parents he escorted me back to the TV truck where he gave me a mini tour.

The TV truck was located just around the corner from the court (you could actually see the court from the truck). I was given a quick tour of the truck and met the producer, director, sound guy, and any other important people that help put the game on TV. We then walked out to the court and he showed me where the TV broadcasters for the game, Quint Kessenich and Brooke Weisbrod, would be sitting for the game. He also pointed out where I would be sitting for the second half of the game. My chair was to the right of Brooke. By this time it was about 3:45 and I told the man that I was going to the Green Turtle to eat dinner with my parents and that I would be back later.

4:55 P.M. @ Verizon Center Floor:

After a wonderful dinner, I then sat in on a meeting between the director and the cameramen. All the meeting consisted of was going over what cameraman had what job during the game.

5:05 P.M. @ TV Truck:

The director and I were standing outside the TV truck awaiting the arrival of Brooke and Quint. They were supposed to arrive at 5 but, because of traffic, arrived a few minutes late. Brooke and I then walked out to the court and I helped her get everything together so she and Quint would be ready for the game. They then recorded the game intro, halftime show, and what you hear after a commercial break. I then decided to see what all my press pass could do...

I figured since all the other press people were going back into the press room why can't I? So got up from the table to see what all was in the "Press Room". On my way back, I walked past Austin Freeman, co-captain for the Georgetown Hoyas, as well as numerous other players and coaches for both teams. I had to remain calm and look professional (was NOT easy).

Standing outside the "Press Room" was a security guard. "Oh well," I thought, "Guess I got as far as I could!" But I decided to see if just maybe he would let me in. I walked up to him and showed him my badge. He stepped aside!! So there I am in the "Press Room". There are reporters and news people from everywhere talking to each other and eating chicken parmesan, which was excellent!! I hung around for a few minutes, talked to a few people, ate some food, grabbed a few freebies, and walked casually back to the table.

6:55 P.M. @ Back to the TV Truck:

I decided to watch the first half of the game in the TV truck and then move out to the table for second half. In the truck, I sat to the left of the producer. It was organized chaos. People were shouting numbers and codes across the room. People were flipping switches and pressing buttons. One guy was yelling "10...9...8...7..." to countdown the seconds till the end of a commercial break. I don't even think these guys had time to breath. I thought that sitting in the production truck would be boring, but I was completely wrong!

7:55 P.M. (about halftime) @ Verizon Center Floor:

I hung around in the truck for part of halftime then made my way back to the floor to sit at the table. They had a seat all ready for me when I got there. It even had my own headset so I could listen to the announcers communicate with the guys in truck. I was not allowed to speak, however. Sitting court side for the second half was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I literally mean court side. My foot was resting on the hard court. Only the teams and the referees were closer than I was.

8:55 P.M. (end of game) @ Verizon Center Floor:

I said farewell to Quint and Brooke and thanked them for letting me sit with them during the game. They said that it was great that I wanted to get into a profession like theirs and gave me some helpful pointers. I then made my way back the truck to grab my jacket and say thanks to the guys in the truck for letting me observe them. They said they were only a phone call away if I needed anything.

9:15 P.M. @ The Green Turtle:

I met back up with my parents and then we made the long journey back to Herndon VA; and reality.

That was an experience I will never forget. I did some incredible things and met some incredible people. I was also extended an offer to join them when they come back on February 23rd to produce another game at the Verizon Center. I would like to thank the people that sat in the truck as well as Quint and Brooke for letting me sit with them during the game. I had no idea what to expect when I showed up at 3. But what happened was incredible.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Opportunity of a Lifetime

Dear readers,

Tomorrow the Georgetown Hoyas and the St Johns Red Storm basketball teams will square off on the hard court in the Verizon Center. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN2. Yours truly will be in attendance. But, if you think I'm going to be sitting in the stands, you're wrong. Allow me to explain...

About a year ago I decided that I wanted to be a sports broadcaster for the ESPN family of networks when I grow up. To prepare myself for my future, I have been announcing freshman and JV football games (I played varsity), girls/boys varsity basketball games, and even girls/boys varsity soccer games at my high school.

About six months ago my friends mother told me that she knew the director for ESPN2. She said she would contact him and see if maybe I could at least meet him and he could tell me what to expect if I pursued this field. What happened next nobody ever saw coming. The director then emailed the man in charge of the internship program for ESPN. For about a week, the two men emailed back and forth about me and how they could help me in the future. They concluded that by announcing games I was already strengthening my resume. They also said they couldn't really do anything about the internship until after my junior year of college. To be honest, I never really thought that they were just going to give me an internship. All I wanted was just to talk to the man!!

My friends mother then reported to me about all this going on and I decided to drop the director a line...join the conversation.

He told me that next time he was down in this area producing a game he would be glad to meet with me and let me sit in on a production. Fast forward to the new year, 2011. I hadn't heard from him in about a month so I dropped him a line to make sure he didn't forget about me. Let me tell you, the reply made me drop to the floor:

"Hey Brian,

Thanks for checking in. I have a 7pm game 1/26 at the Verizon Ctr. Let me know if its something you could make. If so I will check on protocol to see how and if its ok to sit in the production truck or court side with announcers.

Let me know,"

Of course I responded with an ecstatic, but professional, YES!!! The opportunity of a lifetime. Very few people ever get to experience something like this and tomorrow I get my chance.

The details of what exactly I will be doing are very vague. But I do get my own credential and get to go into the Verizon Center media gate as a member of ESPN2!!! So tomorrow when you're sitting at home, or at wing night, around 7 o'clock, make sure you've got your TV set to ESPN2. You never know, you may see, or even hear, someone familiar.