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!
Techwood’s a big place. And sometimes we’re nose-buried and hard at work in our own NCAA.com bubble, but with the MLB Playoffs on TBS, we’ve been swept up in the playoff fever just like the rest of the country.
The Turner Studios are beneath our campus, where Inside the NBA is broadcast from the legendary Studio J and countless other shows are filmed. Turner had the rights this year to all of the Division Series as well as the National League Championship Series, so we had the opportunity to take part in the excitement.
With all the hecticness, Turner Sports opened a social media room that the PR department is currently using to tweet from @MLB_TBS and @TurnerSportsPR and manage our social media accounts. With a light night at NCAA.com, Andrew and I, the editorial interns and Danielle, the products intern, were brought downstairs to see all the behind-the-scenes action and observe the MLB social media team at work.
We ended up catching the second half of the Pirates-Cardinals game and asking tons of questions about the process and all the components of live-tweeting a broadcast. One of the coolest parts was seeing all the impressions our tweets made in the twittersphere and how many people were tweeting about the broadcast at any given time. After we had the chance to observe the NLDS games from the social media room, we were eager to witness another facet of the production.
On a Wednesday afternoon, all ten of the NCAA.com interns were offered the opportunity to come down to the studios to watch the live broadcast of the pregame show for Game 5 of the NLCS between the Dodgers and the Cardinals. It was exciting to see Keith Olbermann, Gary Sheffield, Tom Verducci, and Pedro Martinez at work, preparing for the broadcast, making notes, and then delivering their opinions on air. Keith Olbermann even made an Arrested Development reference, referring to Craig Sager’s yellow suit, and Pedro Martinez quoted Allen Iverson’s infamous practice speech, my favorite press conference of all-time. Needless to say, I was a pretty happy camper.
For weeks, we’d all watched the pregame and postgame shows, knowing they were broadcast live from our basement, but we had the chance to see the show in person and it was fascinating to see everything that goes into producing the show that you don’t see on television.
I loved hearing their perspective on the games, their personal stories, their preparation, and their conversation before the broadcast and during commercial breaks. Standing on the studio floor during the live broadcast was fascinating because we were able to see all the moving parts: the cameras, the researchers, the producers, the anchors, the engineers.
After seeing the Game 5 pregame show, we had to watch the Game 6 pregame show two nights later, and had a very different perspective. We definitely had the most unique experience of postseason baseball this year!
Atlanta’s commonly divided into two parts, ITP and OTP. Inside the perimeter and outside the perimeter. And while living ITP and immersing myself in my work, you sometimes forget that there’s a whole city out there to explore. With a crazy redesign in progress and lots of long days at work, I decided to take advantage of a day off and head out past Marietta to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.
I made the 40min drive out to Kennesaw and drove around trying to find the entrance to the park, only to find cars parked along the road and outside the locked gate. There was one thing I hadn’t accounted for: the government shutdown. I knew there was a shutdown, but it hadn’t affected me, personally. Caught up in the world of college football and NCAA.com redesign, it hadn’t crossed my mind that the place I’d wanted to hike at would be shut down.
I parked my car along the side of the road like everyone else and headed up the open trail. It was peaceful, and exceptionally quiet, even for a Monday. With just my camera and backpack for company, it was exactly what I needed. I didn’t know much about the battle fought on the land, but learned on my hike that over 5,000 soldiers were killed when General Sherman led his Union soldiers against Johnston’s Confederate army.
In need of a long hike to clear my head, I chose the steady 10 mile trail that summits both Little Kennesaw and Kennesaw Mountains, both of which provided stunning views of the North Georgia landscape and the city of Atlanta from a distance. Hiking is one of my favorite things to do, and while Georgia may not be known for its mountains, it definitely wasn’t too shabby a trail…and thankfully, very few switchbacks, Mom! There are quite a few more hikes I’d like to take this fall, but Kennesaw definitely set the standard high.
It’s never easy waking up after staying at Techwood working on NCAA.com until 2am. But it’s a lot easier waking up after staying at Techwood until 2am knowing you’re going to meet up with some of your best friends in Atlanta to volunteer for the day.
A few weeks ago, we received an email telling us about Turner Volunteer Day, a day of service for employees of Turner Broadcasting where we could select one of 34 sites around Atlanta to volunteer at and better our new hometown. The four NCAA.com editorial interns–Abby, Eric, Andrew, and myself–decided we would all volunteer together. It would be great to give back, to get out of the office, and to connect with other Turner employees we rarely get to see with working the night shift.
Our application was accepted and the four of us met at Techwood on Wednesday morning, not even six hours after leaving the night before. We drove to Turner Field where we met up with hundreds of Turner employees for breakfast from the Flying Biscuit and Sublime Doughnuts, two of our favorites. After a welcome from our CEO, Phil Kent, and the mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed, we boarded our bus to our assignment, the Coralwood School in Decatur.
We were met by the principal of the school, who was so thankful we’d be helping out. She explained to us that the Coralwood School is a public inclusion school in the Dekalb County School System that serves pre-k through kindergarten. There were many landscaping tasks to accomplish, so Eric, Andrew, Abby, and I chose to work on the nature trail and treehouse, an outdoor classroom. We were immediately set up with shears, rakes, saws, clippers, hedge trimmers, and bags to clean off the gravel paths and remove all the brush. It was definitely taxing, but so rewarding.
We spent four hours clearing out all the brush on the trail, trimming the briars, cutting back the ivy, and widening the path so it would be smoother for the teachers to bring the students in wheelchairs out into nature. The site leader had explained to us that the students paint little rocks and lay them along the edges of the path to mark their way. As we went, we were able to uncover their rocks, clean them off, and replace them on at the newly-widened edge of the gravel. We were so excited to look at each one and know how happy the students would be seeing their uncovered, colorful rocks after we’d cleaned the path.
It was so awesome to get out of the office and make a difference in the A, representing Turner. Turner put together such an incredible event and it’s so exciting to be part of a company that had so many employees that were as excited as we were to get out into the community and give back. We had the opportunity to bond with each other in a team-building task outside the office, meet other employees, and really make a difference to these kids in our new city! Abby and I were definitely a little tired and needed quite a few jolts of caffeine after volunteering all day and then working a ten-hour night shift, but we had no complaints because we had too much fun at Coralwood.
We already can’t wait for the next Turner Volunteer Day!
Growing up, we moved around a lot. And one of the things my dad preached from an early age was that you could never go home again. And he was right. But sometimes, pieces of home can come to you. And on Sunday, the Phillies came to Atlanta for the regular-season finale and I couldn’t have been happier.
Trust me, I love my Phils, but I’m not a delusional Philly phan. I know they’re awful. I knew they weren’t going to make the playoffs. Heck, I knew they weren’t even going to beat the Braves. But somehow, I convinced Christian, Justin, and Robbie–the three NCAA.com multimedia interns–to come with me, and we met at Techwood after we’d each had a 2am finish covering college football the night before heading to Turner Field. It certainly wasn’t going to be the 15 inning marathon ballgame we’d seen a few weeks before at the Ted.
We had incredible seats in section 122R, but definitely had to pay attention, sitting right in foul ball territory. After a rocket line-drive foul ball from Dan Uggla landed two rows in front of us and snapped the iPhone case off a kid’s phone, we were prepared.
I knew it was going to be a rough game for me. When nearly every Brave got a hit and even Gerald Laird, listed perhaps a bit too generously at 225lbs., earned a bunt single, I could only laugh, sit back, and enjoy the official end of summer.
I haven’t seen the Phils at CBP in two seasons, but their visits are always my favorite part of living in a new city. It’s always so much fun to share my hometown boys of summer with new friends. It might not ever be the same watching the Phillies without a tub of crabfries and cheese sauce in my hand, but hey, I’ll take what I can get 900 miles away.
As much as I love my Phillies, it’ll definitely be cool to be living in the A while the Bravos are in the playoffs. I’m still not a fan of #Choptober, but with the Phils out of the postseason…who knows! Maybe we’ll even get a shot to go to a World Series game!
But as Justin pointed out, at least no matter how bad the Phils play, I’ll always have the Tastykake ad in the outfield at Turner Field…right?
On my roadtrip to Atlanta, while staying over in Virginia, my sister, mom, and I turned on the Food Network, who, that night, was coincidentally airing episodes of the must-eat places in the A. We made mental notes of the ones to hit, but being a junk food junkie (and overt Tastykake addict), the one that caught my eye was the Varsity, the famous fast-food joint in Midtown.
Eric, Abby, Andrew, and I–the NCAA.com editorial interns–had made it a goal to hit the Varsity. After a few close calls but never actually making it to the famous dive, we were asked to come in for an after-lunch training session and decided before we went in, we’d finally make the pilgrimage to the Varsity.
We were warned by Georgia-native Abby that they would “yell” at us, asking the famous “What’ll ya have?” We then ordered our burgers, fries, and milkshakes. Everything was so delicious and we were definitely full by the time we showed up at Techwood for our afternoon meeting.
The Varsity was definitely one of the most unique restaurants I’ve been to. It’s the world’s largest drive-in, and according to them, when the Ramblin’ Wreck play across the street at Georgia Tech, they can feed up to 30,000 hungry customers. (Speaking of, have you seen our NCAA.com video about the Ramblin’ Wreck? Check it out. These cool traditions are literally just across the street from us.) Two miles of hot dogs, a ton of onions, 2,500 pounds of potatoes, 5,000 fried pies and 300 gallons of chili are made from scratch daily. That’s a lot of food.
I can’t wait to bring my brother and sister (both crazy foodies) to the Varsity…or just stop to grab a milkshake on my way to work! Oh, the benefits of working in downtown ATL…