It was a scene right out of the Walking Dead.
All the major highways in Atlanta on gridlock, people abandoning their cars, milk and bread flying off the shelves. But the zombies weren’t overrunning the ATL. It was just a little bit of snowpocalypse down South.
One of the first stories we heard about the major differences between the North and the South was about the snow. Our bosses at NCAA.com loved to tell the story about how in 2011, two inches of snow shut down the whole city for two days. We laughed. Two inches? Just throw down a little salt, plow the road once, and you’re solid! But this is Georgia. They don’t own salt or plows or know how to drive in these conditions.
So Monday morning, after 75-degree weather just days before, when we heard there was a chance of snow, there was a mad rush to Publix to stock up on essentials. I laughed, knowing I’d probably be fine, and everyone was overreacting. I joked with my mom that I’d probably get two work-from-home snow days. I was even tempted to wear my pajamas instead out. But just like every other schoolchild’s superstitions, I didn’t ever think it’d actually happen, so I was still a little surprised to get the text to not drive into the office on Tuesday.
When I ventured out into the snow Tuesday afternoon to walk to the mailbox, it was all I could do to laugh. The roads were wet but not the least bit icy, and the snow was the fine stuff any northeastern kid knows you can’t build a snowman with. But schools had let out early, offices had shut down, and Atlanta was panicking.
It took one of my friends nearly four hours to go ten miles, another was forced to spend the night in a CVS, another was forced to spend the night in his car on the highway. The roads were so gridlocked and icy, people couldn’t move. With everyone deciding to get on the roads at the same time on Tuesday, it took only 20min for the roads to all but shut down. Wednesday was spent trying to get everyone stranded home and people were instructed to retrieve their stranded cars on Thursday.
As a result, I’ve had three work-at-home snow days, which has meant lots of Netflix, lots of cookie dough, lots of crossword puzzles…and a hint of cabin fever. While it’s been nice to relax on the couch for a few days, I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to the office and seeing all my friends.
All my friends and family have been laughing at the fact that two inches of snow created such a mess–it still dumbfounds me a little bit, too–but it truly was a perfect storm. The city wasn’t prepared, the people didn’t know how to react, and it all added up. Thankfully, everyone was safe and everything is getting back to normal…albeit slowly. It’ll certainly be fun trading survival stories in the office tomorrow!
But only in Atlanta could you claim to survive a snowpocalypse and be back to enjoying the 65-degree weather in the same week…bring on the heat!
It’s a small world.
Before I started at NCAA.com, I was excited to find one of the interns I’d be working with–Abby Hill–and I had the same internship at the USOC in Colorado Springs, one year apart. Once we met in Georgia, we quickly found out we had much more than a love for the Games in common and became the best of friends.
Olympic fever hits the country for two weeks every two years, but for Abby and I, it’s always Olympic fever, all year long. As soon as we saw Team USA’s domestic kick-off event–The Road to Sochi Tour–was hitting Atlanta, we were quick to email our friends at the USOC to help out in any way we could.
Saturday morning, I met Abby and we headed to Atlantic Station where we were met with hugs from one of our good friends at the USOC, Sam Sieracki. We promised her these below-freezing temperatures were not normal for the ATL and swore up and down it was 75 degrees a few days earlier. After all, it was colder in Atlanta than in both Colorado Springs and Sochi, of all places!
After a tour of the event space and catching up with Sam, Abby and I volunteered to run the luge demonstration station, where kids could experience luging on a sled with wheels down a ramp.
Pushing a 60lb sled all day was terribly exhausting, but totally worth it to see all the kids’ faces as they learned about a new sport and discovered the Olympic spirit we love so much. Abby and I were so thrilled seeing the excitement on the kids’ faces when they reached the bottom of the hill, soaking up every facet of Team USA.
We headed right to work at Techwood and were a little sluggish until our shift ended around 1:30am, but the next morning, I was up at Atlantic Station bright and early for Day 2. Trust me, when you work the night shift, you forfeit being a morning person and doing things at normal hours, so you know I love Team USA for getting up early two consecutive days!
By the end of the weekend, all of our fellow interns had made an appearance or helped volunteer at the event, and Abby and I were so happy to share a small part of our Team USA family with our NCAA family.
When I talked to my dad on Sunday afterwards, the first thing he asked was, “Did you have fun, kid?”
I’m certain he already knew the answer.
Nothing makes me quite as happy as being a Games nerd and sharing that love with other people. It was so wonderful to be reunited with Sam and a small part of our Olympic family for the weekend and it only made me more anxious for the Games to begin. The seven days ’til Sochi can’t come fast enough.
GO TEAM USA!
I’m an Olympics nerd. Anyone who’s met me can tell you that. And while the country is consumed with Team USA for the two weeks of the Games, it’s one of my passions all year round.
When I started at NCAA.com, I knew exactly what feature angle I wanted to explore–student-athletes competing in the Olympics. With creative freedom and a lot of support from the editorial team, I reached out to my old colleagues at Team USA and discovered the only student-athletes for Team USA would be six members of the US women’s ice hockey team.
Thus, the Sochi Seven was born.
In November, I started the framework, met with our design team, and after finishing my interviews with the girls in the car on the way to Auburn, sat down to write my stories. Originally, I had planned to write one longform and one short profile on coach Katey Stone. But after talking to the girls, they had given me so many great stories, I was too passionate about them to let them go.
And so one story became six.
My friends and coworkers sat down with me, listened as I read from my notes, deliberated the best stories, and encouraged me to push the envelope and tell the stories that spoke to me.
Thanks to the redesign of our site in October, I was able to build an entire microsite dedicated to the Sochi Seven and their journey, and I couldn’t be more excited about how it turned out.
It’s usually hard to explain why I love sports so much. Yes, trust me, I know the plays, the standings, and the games as well as anyone. And I love them just as much as the next fan. But it’s not the miraculous touchdown passes and record-setting games and unbelievable plays that keep me going.
It’s the people. It’s their passion. It’s telling the stories behind the sport–the fans, the players, the coaches. Why people play the game, how people come together, when sports move people. So people like Lyndsey Fry, who carries around the jersey of her best friend who passed away, speak to me.
And I wanted to be the storyteller.
It’s why I love 24/7. It’s why I love the 30 for 30 series and E:60. It’s why I love documentaries. It’s why I love longform. I might not know a single thing about a given subject, but by the end of a moving piece, you care. Everyone has a story, and being the storyteller lets you share that story with the world.
And the Sochi Seven let me do just that.
Check it out here and let me know what you think!
We don’t have your typical off days. And we don’t work your usual schedule. And while sometimes, you feel shorted, there’s times we can do things no other working adults can and it’s truly one of the greatest blessings. Like yesterday.
113 miles is all that stands between us and Auburn, Alabama. And so with the Tigers in the BCS championship game with the national title on the line and the day off from work, we decided there’d be no better place to be to watch the game than the little college town off of I-85.
My first trip to Alabama in probably ten years, my very first trip to Auburn–and we’d be going on the day Auburn played for the national title.
Justin, Christian, and I met at work around 2:15 on Monday afternoon and headed down 85 with snacks and a few rolls of toilet paper, ready to roll Toomer’s Corner in celebration of a Tigers win. While I’d enjoyed watching Auburn this season after their miraculous last-second thrillers and Christian wanted to see a good game, Justin’s the lifelong Auburn fan and wanted nothing more than to see a Tigers victory.
After an hour and 40min on the road, lots of karaoke, and little traffic, we pulled off of 85 onto College Ave. and stopped in the famous Auburn eatery, Momma Goldberg’s. Our next stop was further down the street at the intersection of College and Magnolia–the site of the famous Toomer’s Corner. We parked the car and stopped for lemonade at Toomer’s Drugs, the mom-and-pop shop most famous in town. While the temperature was an un-southern-like 23 degrees, I loved staring at the wires with the AU logos criss-crossing the intersection and seeing where the Toomer Oaks once stood.
We drove across campus and parked next to Jordan-Hare Stadium, the site of those two unforgettable Auburn miracles this season–the game-winning, helmet-bouncing touchdown against Georgia and then the very best college football game I’ve ever watched, the Iron Bowl’s unbelievable missed-field-goal-attempt-return-for-TD as time expired. If only Auburn had one more miracle left in them and could defeat Florida State.
After soaking in the magic of Jordan-Hare, we filed into Auburn Arena as the doors opened for the school’s official viewing party. With the university still on winter break until Wednesday, we didn’t know what to expect with the crowds, as we figured plenty of fans and alum would trek to campus, just as we did.
Auburn Arena was buzzing with anticipation and the two hours until kickoff passed quickly. The game, shown on the jumbotron above the court, was played in Pasadena, and the crowd was getting into it as if they were actually at the game–yelling all the cheers, getting loud on third down, waving their orange and blue pom-poms.
We truly couldn’t have asked for a better title game. I was a casual Auburn fan all year, just because they were so much fun to watch, but going to Auburn, being with 5,000 Auburn fans, I couldn’t help but get swept up in it all. It was such an experience and I was so genuinely rooting for the Tigers.
For most of the 4th quarter, we stood on our feet, hands over our mouths, just staring at the screen, hoping the Tigers just had a little bit of that War Eagle magic left to upend Famous Jameis. I wanted them to win so the place would erupt, I wanted them to win so we could celebrate, I wanted them to win so I could tell my kids we rolled Toomer’s Corner on the night the Tigers won the national title.
But it wasn’t meant to be.
As we drove out of Auburn, we passed Toomer’s Corner one last time, and watched a few fans roll the corner in celebration of a great season. While it was sad to see, I loved it. The fans weren’t devastated. They’d made it to the national title game and they were so passionate and so proud and they were going to celebrate that, Coaches’ Trophy in hand or not.
I couldn’t have had a better time in Alabama with such incredible friends. Auburn and FSU definitely sent the BCS out on a high note and I’ll never forget that I was able to watch the title game in Auburn.
It wasn’t even Halloween yet, and I’d bought my Christmas tree. All it needed was presents to sit beneath it. Luckily, I knew exactly what I’d wanted to do. I’m never quite satisfied when a craft doesn’t go the way I plan. So when I tried DIY string art for the first time this summer and the results weren’t remotely close to what I envisioned, I knew string art was going to eventually make a reappearance.
Thankfully, this Christmas, I had new friends from all over the country to practice on.
I wanted crafts that we could all use to decorate our new (and first) apartments and ones that reflected our personalities and alma maters. After I made DIY instagram coasters for half the group, I decided to try DIY string art for the others, using school colors to make them as personal as possible.
I was so excited by how well they turned out, I decided to grab more paint, more nails, and more string and makes ones for myself of all the places I’ve lived: Pennsylvania, Texas, England, Colorado, and now Georgia. The colors fit in perfectly with my cherry-and-white apartment and they’re one of my favorite things in my house…except for maybe my cherry-and-white Christmas tree, of course!
I’m so excited to give them to my friends and family…I’m not sure I’m going to be able to wait until our Christmas party! String art is definitely one of my favorite crafts I’ve made to date.
Follow my photo tutorial below for step-by-step instructions.
I’ve read Aron Ralston’s Between a Rock and a Hard Place more times than I can count. I live by it; I learn from it. And Ralston’s take on hiking is one of my favorites: “Mountains are the means, the man is the end. The goal is not to reach the top of the mountains, but to improve the man.”
And so, with the day off on Sunday, some of our NCAA.com family set off to conquer Kennesaw Mountain.
Christian, Danielle, and Danielle’s dog, Optimus, met at my house and we headed out, picking up Justin along the way. When we pulled into Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, we were a little surprised to see how many people had also thought it to be a perfect day for a hike. “We should have found a more hipster mountain…Kennesaw’s too mainstream for us!” Justin joked, before we got out of the car and made our way up the trail.
After hiking at Kennesaw alone two weeks before because of the government shutdown, hiking with my friends was the best change of pace. We laughed the entire way up the mountain, told stories, talked about whatever was on our minds, and the fall foliage made for the absolute perfect backdrop. Even the puppy was loving his first hike, taking everything in…and occasionally chasing down children, wanting to play with the sticks they were holding. Despite being worried about the chilly weather, the sun came out and we couldn’t have asked for a better day.
The view from the summit was perfect, looking out over Atlanta and the rest of North Georgia, and was made even better by the company.
The drive home was full of Taylor Swift karaoke and rap battles, and I couldn’t stop smiling at what a fun day it had been. I didn’t realize how much I had needed a day out with my friends until we reached the summit and I stood there with them taking it all in.
A perfect Sunday Funday, indeed.
These days, leaving work after 2am after a full Saturday of college football is the norm. It’s what I’ve come to expect from my job. And I love it. I’ve grown to love Pac-12 football and I really look forward to staying up for the late games. But when I knew my alarm clock would go off a mere two hours after walking in the door to my apartment, well, that I was not looking forward to.
After hitting snooze a few times, and a phone call from a very awake Danielle around 5:40am, I was up, moving, and on my way to Atlantic Station, the finish line of the 2013 Atlanta Marathon. I’d volunteered at big races before, and my sister’s a big runner and will be taking on the Philadelphia Marathon in November, so it’s always something I look forward to. There’s something very cool about being the first person to greet the finishers, to hand them that medal, and congratulate them.
Sunday was no different. After arriving at Atlantic Station and checking in, I was sent right to the finish line to unpack boxes and boxes of medals. The weather was unseasonably cold. With temperatures near 90 the week before, the 45-degree start to the morning was a bit chilly, even for this northerner!
We heard the start gun from the other side of Atlantic Station and knew the marathoners were off. There were three races–the full marathon, the 10K, and the 5K–so less than half an hour later, the 5K runners came passing through the finish line. It was a steady wave all morning as the 10Kers finished and then the marathoners. While the finish line wasn’t quite as hectic as the Broad Street Run where there are 10,000 runners passing through the finish within an hour or two of each other, it was still just as thrilling.
The other volunteers were so great, too. In Philadelphia, I’d met a lot of injured runners, parents of runners, and those who just loved to watch the races. But in Atlanta, it seemed everyone had already run a marathon, and was here to remember why they loved doing it. One man was running the New York Marathon in a few weeks and said with all his training, he wanted to motivate himself to get across that finish line in Central Park.
One of my favorite moments was a dad who met his wife a few hundred feet from the finish line, picked up his infant daughter from over the barricades, and ran with her across the finish. When interviewed by the local news, he commented, “Well, she got pretty heavy around mile 13…” making us all burst out in laughter. Others crossed the line and as I put the medal around their neck, burst into tears, so proud they’d accomplished such a huge feat. And still others wore Boston Marathon race jerseys to honor the victims of this year’s attack.
Though running on less than two hours of sleep, it was still one of the highlights of my week and put the biggest smile on my face. It’s always one of my favorite things to volunteer at races, and I’m determined one of these days to race a 10K and then a half marathon. But until then, I’m perfectly content being the one to congratulate the finishers…and convince my sister to fly down here next year to run it!