Thursday, September 27, 2007

From Minor League Baseball to Major League Soccer

I once heard somewhere "If you can work in minor league baseball, you can work anywhere." Whoever said knew what he was talking about. In minor league baseball you have small staffs, work long hours, host six to eight game homestands, and barely have a weekend off. Interning for the Rockford RiverHawks in the independent Frontier League was no different. Our staff was so small, interns made up half of the "full-time" staff. Any time there was any type of event, everyone was there. Everyone from the GM to the grounds crew. Working in major league soccer is a whole different world. First, I have worked only one game and I have been here almost a month. When it comes to community events like the Dynamo Charity Golf Outing and Houston Soccer Challenge Tournament, the ticket sales team's presence was not needed. Enough people from the front office would be there. In Rockford, I was expected to due anything and everything necessary to get things done. In Houston, I am expected to due one thing and one thing only- sell tickets. It's different- like night and day. We have a seperate department for sales, marketing, media relations, operations, and sponsorships. The Riverhawks had one person for each of those tasks. Yesterday we had a big staff meeting to talk about our marketing strategy for when Dynamo plays its playoff game here in Houston. Our goal is a sold-out crowd. We've got a lot of great things planned. Welcome to the big leagues I guess.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Aging Frat Stars

At 22 ripe years of age, I still feel very much attached to the college lifestyle and last night proved I could still party with the best of them on a Thursday night. However there is one major difference worth noting: in college, I didn't have to be at the office at 8:30 in the morning. Up to this point, I hadn't had the chance to experience much of the Houston night life, so when a guy from the office invited me to join him for his Thursday night prowl, I of course said yes. When someone buys you a shot at a bar, the polite gesture and proper bar etiquette is to drink it. Since I'm still the new guy in town, several new people that I met welcomed this Hoosier with a shot of their choosing. One shot isn't a big deal, but several of them over the course of the night mixed with the beer bottle I had as my sidearm added up to a lethal equation. Time passed as I rocked out to an 80's cover band and talked to several beautiful,"surgically enhanced" women. Before I knew it, it was 3am by the time I got home and my alarm clock sounded just 4 hours later. The whole 9 to 5 thing prevents me from taking the afternoon naps I was accustomed to, so staying out late and getting up early really takes a toll on you. Recovering took me most of today proving officially that I am an aging frat star.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Life Beyond Sigma Nu

For the past three years, I have lived with nearly 80 guys. There was constant action and human interaction almost 24/7 within the halls and walls of the Sigma Nu Fraternity house on the Indiana University campus. Now I live alone in a one bedroom apartment in downtown Houston, Texas. My apartment complex is very quiet and I rarely see any of my neighbors. The only one I have met is the guy next door to me and that is only because I got bored and decided to introduce myself. His name is Ali and he is a French-Iraqi immigrant. Everyday I see a car with an Illinois license plate and a Delta Zeta window sticker. I wouldn't mind meeting her. I have caught myself on several occasions waking up in the middle of the night or looking around while watching television trying to figure out why it is so quiet. If it was ever completely quiet inside the SNU house, something was wrong. The constant noise and interaction is something I had grown quite accustomed to and something I really enjoyed about the fraternity lifestyle. Needless to say, it's been weird living alone in a big city where you do not know many people. I have been getting out though trying to meet my kind of people. There is a bike shop just a couple blocks from my apartment and I took a fly-fishing class Saturday morning.

Big weekend for sports:

Indiana Football 41, Akron 24
Houston Dynamo 3, LA Galaxy 1- Dynamo clinch playoff spot.
Chicago Bears 20, KC Chiefs 10
Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are 2nd & 3rd respectively in the NASCAR chase.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sucking Wind and Dodging Bullets

Obviously most people working in the Houston Dynamo front office are soccer fans and former players. I am no different. Some guys from the office and I play indoor soccer twice a week. Even though most of us are in our 20's, we talk about the "glory days" of our playing careers reflecting on intense high school state tournament games in horrible weather conditions and wild stories from club soccer weekend tournaments. There also exists the key element of how out of shape we all are. One of the requirements to make the Carroll HS varsity team was to run two miles under 14 minutes. These days, I can barely run five minutes during an indoor game without running out of juice. One of the most important things in soccer is your "touch" or how easily you can control the ball with your feet. When your energy and endurance goes out the window, your touch quickly follows. You can't control the ball if you can't keep your head above your knees. This was my problem the other night. I couldn't control the ball to save my life. I even completely wiffed receiving a pass and watched the ball shamefully roll into the back of our own net. No wonder soccer is called the beautiful game.

I've noticed that weather and traffic are the two main news topics on any given day in the Houston area. So when a tropical storm began brewing in the Gulf of Mexico, the Bayou City entered a minor state of crisis. I didn't think much of it at first, but as that tropical storm was given the name Humberto and began spiraling toward the coast, I couldn't help but get a little concerned. You see, in Indiana, don't have to worry about Hurricanes. You get the occasional tornado, but never do you have to worry about your house getting flooded and ripped of its foundation in the same natural disaster. The locals in the office took advantage of this Midwestern boy telling me to stock up on bottled water and non-perishable food items. I almost fell for it. Everyone was too calm for me to get worried. That night, I laid in my bed waiting for the storm to hit. It never happened. The next morning, the news anchors said we dodged a bullet, but I thought to myself "What about the people to the east who didn't dodge a bullet? What about them?"

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Great Migration

There wasn't much space left in my Chevy Silverado pick-up truck when my mom and I left the St.L for Houston. The entire bed and extended cab was packed to its max. The drive was relatively uneventful except for driving along an enormous lake in Oklahoma and getting caught in a horrible thunderstorm in Dallas during rush hour, the one thing we didn't want to happen. The tarp covering my new furniture and belongings barely offered any protection from the rain. So mom pulled over to a gas station on Dallas' south side aka "The Hood" if you've never been there. We left not much longer despite the rain. We stopped for the night right when our nerves were getting tense. We were about an hour from Houston. Texas is a beautiful state- a true Southern belle if you will. My Philmont friends from Texas often said it was my destiny to one live in the Lone Star state.

Driving through morning rush hour traffic in Houston was probably more nerve racking than evening rush hour traffic in Houston. Trying to change lanes and navigate in a place where you know nothing is quite the challenge. MapQuest is not as helpful as it might seem. Ultimately, mom and I found the apartment. By the time we moved everything in, I looked like I had jumped into a swimming pool. Looking outside my bedroom window and seeing skyscrapers is something that is going to take some getting used to. I did get to bring my mom to a Dynamo game. Since I've been here everyone has been very helpful and friendly to the new guy on the block. I've already made some friends, found a couple bars, and started playing some indoor soccer.

Now that I'm working for Houston Dynamo of major league soccer, a good amount on this blog will be dedicated to soccer in the future.