By now, I hope my name is familiar with a lot of you. If you've spent any time scouring the Internet for Vols news over the past five or six years, chances are you've come across me at my old home, 3rd Saturday in Blogtober.
If not, no worries. I plan for us to be old friends by the time I'm done here.
If you don't know anything about me, here are a few essentials: I graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2002 with a journalism degree. After being a correspondent through school for The (Blount County) Daily Times, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tennessean and the sports editor at The Daily Beacon, I interned at the Tennessean and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Afterward, I wrote professionally for The Leaf-Chronicle in Clarksville, Tenn., and then for the Times Free Press for four years.
After moving back home to the Huntsville, Ala./Southern Middle Tennessee area to be near family and start one of my own, I've worked part-time for the Huntsville Times covering the Vols and minor league baseball. I have written for 3SIB for the past five years and am a yearly contributor to the Maple Street Press UT annual.
Other pertinent things to know about me:
- I'm wordy. Sometimes, I find myself writing 2,000-word essays that basically could be said in two words: "I'm frustrated." I figured I'd come here and team up with Will, so Rocky Top Talk could have the two most verbose writers in the blogosphere.
- I'm passionate. If I come across as being whiny or angry or homerish or quick-triggered sometimes, don't worry about type-casting me. I am all those things. You'll get my opinions, and they aren't always pretty. Feel free to disagree with me at any time. I'll probably pout, but I'm not really mad.
- I love the Vols probably more than anything in my life besides God and my family. Just take "probably" out. It's true. They keep me up at night. They make me throw up before - and after - games. They give me equal parts joy and frustration. Whether it's football, basketball, baseball or recruiting, I'm All Vol, all the time.
That last bullet leads me to this fact: The excitement I feel in having the opportunity to write for RTT is almost palpable. For years, I've read and admired Joel and the guys. I've made RTT a daily stop in my pursuit for UT information. And I've never bought into any rivalry for readership. By my thoughts, I could go to both sites every day, and I still plan to, which brings me to my goodbye to my old stomping grounds.
Before I can look at the opportunity ahead, I have to tip my hat to what I've left behind. More than five years ago, my friends and I decided to turn our daily football conversations and arguments into a blog, and the brainchild wound up being 3SIB, a place where Tennessee and Alabama fans converged to articulate our thoughts and argue our theories. It was a wild concept, and it has worked brilliantly. Along the way, though, 3SIB became much more to me.
It became a place where I tried to grow up, learn to better accept criticism and immerse myself in the firestorm of a heated rivalry. It became a haven for me during the difficult times and a sounding board during the best. For every post about what a hero Chris Lofton became for battling through cancer, there was one about the fear I felt in the face of my dad's own battle. For every write-up about Lane Kiffin's struggles with keeping his mouth shut, I learned the hard way that I need to guard my own. And sprinkled among the excitement I've felt about the few big UT wins during the past few lean years came my own personal thrill of finally becoming a first-time father.
There were times when I didn't want to get out of bed, but I wanted to pull up a computer and write. Third Saturday gave me the canvass to paint a portrait of my thoughts. It became a place to broadcast my life. It's difficult saying goodbye to that, and it's why I'll still visit there every day. I'm much better at hellos.
So, why am I here?
First of all, the dynamic that makes 3SIB so great eventually wore on me as a writer. When that happens, it's not good for the writers or the readers. Too many times, I'd spend hours writing something about the Vols, and a rival fan would pick it apart. I found that commenting on message boards and other UT-specific avenues gave me the validation and excitement that I've been missing with my writing. It's always great to be around people who are passionate about the same things you are, and that's a huge reason for me joining forces here at RTT. Living in Alabama, I get my fair share of Crimson Tide and Auburn fans. What I was lacking in my life that I had growing up and during my time in Knoxville and Chattanooga was the presence of fellow UT fans. I want to write for an audience who will have strong opinions on the same things I do. I think this place has a healthy dose of that, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it. In short, I needed to be surrounded by a bunch of Vols lovers.
Lastly, it's easy in whatever you're doing to get complacent. Sometimes, you just want to shake things up a bit, move around and get the blood circulating. Being a former journalist and job-jumper, I've never been one to stay in one place forever. I think a change of scenery is what I need to get that old excitement about blogging again. Now that I've got a family and limited spare time of my own, it has been tough to fire up the ol' dashboard and pump out 1,000 words. That's never been the case before. I think this new endeavor will awaken that desire to write. I sure hope so. I need it in my life. When it's as much a part of you as anything else, you miss it when you're not practicing.
I hated - and still hate - to leave behind my best friends. But they don't need me for 3SIB to be an awesome place. Once I got over myself, I realized that coming here is what I wanted to do.
So, let's get this thing started. Introduction posts are always the hardest to write; so let's move on and start talking some football. We've got a lot to be excited about with a young, potentially dynamic football team. It's mere weeks until kickoff, and there will be a lot of things I want to say once the ball is in the air. Looking around at all this orange around me on this blog, it feels like living in Tennessee again.
It feels like home.