It turns out the Ducks weren’t the only ones practicing at Oregon’s Spring Game yesterday.
If you’re a faithful follower (or my husband, grandmother, father, uncle or best friend), then you know I earned my first UO-issued press credentials to this year’s Spring Game- an amazing opportunity to say the least. For the past several weeks, I’ve gotten my feet wet at post-practice interviews, looking to earn my way to the coveted Press Box and Press Room. Although I didn’t totally know what to expect, I was actually feeling pretty confident after getting my jitters out at several practices. Unfortunately, that confidence quickly subsided. The bright side: I ended up with a whole lot of funny “blog post” material.
Press Box Rookie
Here’s the deal: I’m not a journalist. There, I said it. I didn’t go to journalism school and I know very little about media. I didn’t set out to write; and I certainly never envisioned myself sitting in a press box for any reason, let alone as a sports reporter. I just love football and inspiring others to love it as well. So here I am, learning as a I go but pretending like I’m a pro. I mean if you’re going to be the female version of Rob Moseley, you’ve gotta wear you’re big girl pants right? (No, I’m not referring to “Mom Jeans.”) I’ve learned there’s a tiny bit of grace, but you really have to jump right in if you’re going to be taken seriously. So yesterday, I did just that.
With red press passes around our necks and a computer in hand, my new intern and I took the security-manned elevator all the way up. I’m talking Way up. Rookie Mistake #1: Forgetting my binoculars.
After scoping out the view and picking a seat, I quickly realized I was starving. “Isn’t there supposed to be food up here?” I whispered to my intern. “I don’t know, looks like they just have soda”, he replied. “Lovely. Good thing the game only lasts two hours.” Rookie Mistake #2: Forgetting to eat breakfast.
So, we grabbed some Pepsi, returned to our seats and quickly tried to look busy. “What do people do up here?” I thought. “I sure can’t see much and I’m pretty sure no one is logged onto gridirongirl.org, anxiously awaiting a scrimmage score alert. Hmmm? I guess I can tweet something.” Soon after, someone official walked around and passed out Rosters. “That’s nice. OK, I might as well start memorizing. A Sports Reporter ought to know the players’ numbers right?” Finally, the pre-game festivities began. We stood up to sing the National Anthem, as US military members were honored. It was in that moment I realized I was the ONLY one wearing a Duck Shirt- not a Polo or button down, but a green V-neck with a big picture of Puddles. Rookie Mistake #3: Not dressing up.
It was like an episode of Candid Camera (Smile!) and I wasn’t laughing. For the first week of practice, I tried to dress nice, while everyone else sported North Face sweatshirts and jeans. Then, when I’m in my final Spring test, they all decide to wear Polo shirts and Khaki’s? Perfect. Realizing there was nothing I could do about my Puddles shirt, I sat down and got to work as the Ducks took the field. Eventually, I settled in, took notes for my post-game recap and tweeted score alerts. Things were looking up- especially when they finally brought in some hotdogs at halftime. Before I knew it, the game was over and I didn’t have to eat my arm. Now, to find the Press Room. Rookie Mistake #4: Having to ask Andy McNamara, Assistant Athletic Director of Athletic Communications, if your credentials allow access to the Press Room and how to get there. (Yep, still wearing the Puddles shirt.) Fortunately, Mr. McNamara very graciously gave me directions- head down the stands, onto the field and through the tunnel. Rookie Mistake #5: Wearing wedge heels.
I finally made my way through the tunnel and onto the red-carpet style walkway (with fans on each side of the barricade), after being accidentally stopped by security guards, who couldn’t see the BIG RED Press pass hanging on my neck. Finally, the Press Room. “Ah, I’ve been here before.” I quickly found a seat and resolved to stay quiet this go ’round. (Of course, I just had to pick the seat right next to the beautiful Jill Savage, who definitely remembered to dress up.) Soon, Coach Helfrich entered and everyone began setting their recorders up on the podium. “Oh shoot! My recorder.” I quickly pulled it out of my purse, finding it covered in hardened chocolate (I blame the kids). I quickly scraped it off and rushed it up front, hoping no one noticed my delayed response. Rookie Mistake #5: Getting a smirk from Coach Helf after holding up his interview.
The questions immediately began and I settled in to take notes (just in case the chocolate was clogging the speaker). I was pretty relaxed as I had resolved to shut my mouth, but then…they brought in Marcus. Hey! I couldn’t help it. Besides, what good is being in the Press Room if you’re not going to ask at least one question, right?
I rose my hand and requested the mic. As I waited for reporter before me, anxiety set it. “Am I really about throw up right now? Is my heart literally going beat out of my chest? Please don’t stutter!” Without more than a second to think, the mic arrived as did Marcus’s soothing island finesse. Miraculously, I spit out my question perfectly and Mr. Mariota graciously answered. With renewed confidence and giddy excitement, I gathered up my belongings and headed out. I jumped in my car and called all my favorite people as I made my way through the line up of exiting cars. “Yeah, Linnea, it was so great, I just asked my first question in the Press Room! I was so scared, but I totally did it…CRAP! I forgot my recorder! I gotta go!” Rookie Mistake #6: Having to get back into the Press Room 30 minutes after the Press Conference.
I hung up the phone, parked illegally and ran back to the Casanova Center. Now locked out of the stadium and tunnel access, I attempted to get through the Barricade by flashing my BIG RED pass. No Luck. “Fine, I’ll walk around the building and find an open door,” I think to myself, as mobs of fans are surrounding the several ducks attempting to leave. As I walked around the side of the building, I finally see a familiar face. “There’s Marcus, maybe he can let me in. I’m sure he’ll recognize me- the reporter in the Puddles shirt.” Unfortunately, he too was in the middle of a fan mob. For a minute, I considered saving him by pretending I was an “official” with my BIG RED pass, but again…the Puddles shirt. Back to the Barricade. I pushed my way back up to the “red carpet”, just as Dave Williford, Executive Assistant Athletic Director of Football Communications, was exiting the Casanova Center (Awesome). Embarrassed as ever, I blurted, “Hi Dave, I left my recorder in the press room and I can’t get back in”! Thankfully, he graciously pushed open the barricade and escorted me back inside. Finally back in the press room, I rushed up to the podium and grabbed my lonely chocolate covered recorder. “It’s a whole lot different out here following a game than it is after practice huh?” Yes Dave, yes it is.
Phew! Now we can finally talk about football!
Spring Game Recap.
Just like the game itself, we are going to keep this short-especially after my long-winded story.
Despite a smaller crowd than last year (due to construction limiting the seating), Duck fans were able to accumulate a record amount of canned-food for Food for Lane County. Well done Ducks, well done. In case you missed the game, there were a couple of noteworthy details (at least when you’re figuring out what to do in a Press Box).
1. De’Anthony didn’t play at all. I was surprised by that, even though I didn’t expect him to play much. Despite his absence, there was a pretty strong running game, which was encouraging. In particular, Byron Marshall and Jordan Thompson, a name I had never heard before, were killin’ it. I’ll be doing a whole lot of research on Mr. Thompson before fall camp, don’t worry.
2. Unless I’m living on another planet, Marcus’ QB position is DEFINITELY secure. The back up QB’s have a number of strengths, but seem to need some work. I’m still leaning toward Rodriquez.
3. Just as I thought, the passing game has improved. There are so many talented receivers, it’s hard to name them all. Eric Dungy seems to have improved a bit and #11 Bralon Addison is AAAAMAZING! His name has surfaced quite a bit, so I was excited to watch him in action. Because great minds think alike, Marcus told me he was most impressed with Bralon after the game (Yes, that’s what my perfectly asked question was about.)
4. Don’t get too caught up with the score. It was extremely lop-sided because of how the coaches decided to non-traditionally score the offense vs. defense scrimmage. Coach Helfrich said so.
5. Coach Helfrich felt one of the most valuable things gained from the scrimmage was “bouncing back from adversity.” He pointed out that having the QB’s drop balls, etc, helps them learn how to move on to the next play without getting distracted and losing confidence. And no, there’s no indication yet of who might get that back up spot.
I hope you enjoyed the game and got a tan- unless you were at the Gateway Mall trying out for the X-Factor. In that case, you get a pass. I know the next couple of football-less months will be hard, but in the meantime, hang onto the exciting news that several of our favorite ducks just made their way to the NFL! Congrats to Kenjon Barner, Kiko Alonso, John Boyett, Kyle Long, and Dion Jordan for realizing their dreams.