Sunday, October 2, 2011

A little procrastination never hurt anyone that badly...

Soo I’ve been a little busy in case you were wondering. (I feel like I start almost every post like this, but I’m always busy. Haha. Here’s a bunch of random thoughts for me to vent about, for you to enjoy, so that I can look back one day and laugh and more importantly so I can put off studying for my ginormous law exam tomorrow.

A year ago today – I rocked my second marathon. A lot has changed in a year (I’m writing this from New York!) but today I’m super sad I’m not in Maine doing it again. I mean who would have ever thought I’d be sad cause I couldn’t run a marathon. Hahah. Idiot. Still, Danielle is back at it again hoping to knock out a huge PR while Jenelle and Stephanie are going after their first 26.2. Jealous. Well, not too jealous. From what I hear, it was pouring at the race start. Guess I don’t mind being a race tracker stalker for the day.

The roughest sports week in a long time – Surely, this doesn’t beat the week following the Giants stupid Super Bowl victory over the Pats, but it hasn’t been super fun here. (Sorry, I had to bring it up) It all started Sunday when the friggen Bills took advantage of a rare off day from Tom Brady and won. I mean good for them, but really?! I was at a soccer game during the game so thank god I didn’t have to watch the mess unfold. Then, on Wednesday, the Red Sox made history, recording one of the worst collapses in history. Cool. It was there and gone in literally five minutes so needless to say, my roommates got to know ‘psycho sports fan Andrea’ that night. Then, Saturday, Francona’s departure from Boston became official. Huge bummer, but it is what it is. At least now I can get excited about the search for a new manager. The last seven days I’ve watch SportsCenter with one eye open – the guy at the gym next to me even realized I was a Sox fan when I started talking to myself and gesturing the other day on the treadmill. Wearing my sports heart on my sleeve again. Oops. You know what though, this made me feel a whole lot better …

I’m becoming a grownup – Slowly, but surely. Not that I haven’t been for a while, but I don’t have Mom or Dad here to fix things, cook dinner, take out the trash, etc. This idea of being an adult finally occurred to me yesterday when I had to go to a new car place and get the Santa Fe some new tires. Sounds silly, but this was no picnic for me. Aside from the near $700 that I dropped on said tires, I don’t like car stuff. Dad does and he used to deal with that mess for me at home. Well, now that’s my job. Weird.

Ithaca is gorges – No, really, it is! I have explored a couple of them with my friend, Sam, and they are awesome. (Do not fear, I’m still nowhere near a nature girl) Anyway, Ithaca is also providing lots of fun in so many other ways. I’m making friends I think I’ll have for a really long time, playing around in the commons, working lots of sporting events, defending my Boston-based teams (no matter how hard that may be), planning my future, making grocery shopping fun and thinking how I wish this was a two-year program instead of one.

Home sweet home for the weekend – Dearest Kim is getting married and I’m off to celebrate with her and so many others! That’s pretty much the reason I’m going home – she should feel preeettty lucky. I’m super excited to be home, even if it’s only for like three-ish days. I’ve got lots of plans – Trader Joe’s, dinner with the whole family, a couple workouts with my gym family, some fall traditions, seeing my friend’s new house, snuggling with my sister and probably a lot more! Oh and a little thing called the Dempsey Challenge is this weekend, too. Should be a rockin’ good time – Can’t wait to see these two!!

Stay tuned for a wordless Wednesday that will feature pictures from a month of life in Ithaca!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It's Baaaack!

Let’s think back to about six weeks ago, when I know a lot of us were questioning whether or not we would see pro football this year. Sure, six months ago, I was positive each and every Sunday would be filled with the NFL and all of its greatness, but I’ll admit, as time ticked down, I was getting a bit nervous. Thanks to some very long and imaginably miserable negotiations, one of my favorite days is officially upon us. NFL, it’s absolutely fantastic to see you again.

And Tom Brady, even more excited to see you every weekend.
I’m excited for Belichick to rock the cut-off hoodie, to attempt to do homework while I sit in front of the TV all day each Sunday, talk trash to my friends who are non-Patriots fans, rock my Brady jersey, welcome Chad Ochocinco and all the greatness he comes with to New England and maybe purchase some ridiculous gear to support the ever-so-amusing 85. I mean, how good does he look in blue, red and silver?

Not to mention, I plan on regaining control of my family fantasy league. I’m pretty pleased with my fantasy teams and extremely confident (wait, me confident?) in my ability to take at least one title, here. Andrea’s Dark Chocolate, which should probably be called Andrea’s Attitude-Filled-Crazy-And-Totally-Awesomes will be led by Chris Johnson. Joining him will be my pack of guys with huge egos – Ochocinco, Plaxico Burress, Roy Williams and the Cowboys defense. Oh and I’ve got some guy who is gonna have a breakout season in Miami – Reggie Bush – and another guy who is going to be revitalized this year – Phil Rivers. Not to mention Frank Gore and Reggie Wayne. This team is badass, period.

In other leagues, Andrea’s Ironmen is going to make a surprising push to the postseason. Despite the fact that I drafted while reading for class, talking on the phone with mom and having a minor inner freakout, this team looks awesome. Araon Rodgers will head up the Ironmen and joining him will be a solid first-rounder, Michael Turner, my man Wes Welker and Matt Forte. Antonio Gates, Percy Harvin and Pierre Thomas should also feel privileged to join this for-sure champion.

Not only does the NFL provide hours and hours of entertainment, it helps me set life goals. Ya, that’s right. Last weekend, the NFL reminded me of yet another reason why I need to be famous – an appearance in the Famers v. Gamers NFL charity game. First off, who wouldn’t want to be a part of this? The event is a compilation of all of my favorite things – football, celebs and former ballers – and looks to be a great time. This year guys like Deion Sanders, Hershell Walker, Michael Strahan, Dan Marino and Jerry Rice joined celebs like Chris Merloni and Terry Crews for a whole lot of fun. Aside from the fact that it is an absolute melting pot of sport sponsorship, it’s all for a good cause and I plan on rocking it one day. See you soon, Primetime.

Well, that’s my NFL lovefest for you. Here’s to tons of outlandish statements from Rex Ryan, play-action pass, another Patriots’ run to the super bowl, football-filled SportsCenter, epic touchdown celebrations, Adam Schefter analyses and five-plus months of awesomeness.

As one of my favorite and most entertaining wide receivers once said, ‘Get your popcorn ready.’

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Empire State of Mind

Well, I made it. Like really, I’m in New York. I mean, I’ve been talking about this for over a year now and it’s probably not even set in yet, but I’m here.

I’ve been in the Big Apple since last Thursday and I have yet to find something that I really dislike. Granted, it’s not snowing yet. Stay tuned, I’m sure that will change.

I’ve got tons of fun things to share so here’s a quick rundown of the highlights thus far:

The Farmers Market: Um hi! This place is totally awesome. Tons and tons of local vendors selling plants, veggies, fruit, bread, baked goods, authentic cuisine, honey, sauces, wooden carvings, etc. You name it, someone in Ithaca makes it and sells it at Steamboat Landing on the weekends. These are my first few purchases at said farmer’s market – a rosemary plant, honey and gerber daisies (ya, they are in a Nalgene, don’t judge, they are in a vase now).

The gym: I’ll admit I was unimpressed with the hours at first, but I’m getting used to them quickly. I’ve already pulled double workouts twice (love that I have the time to do that right now!) and it’s pretty sweet. I even have a female lifting buddy, which is super cool since half the people in there are jacked dudes. It’s a refreshing change from the good ole’ Y being that all the machines work, basically each machine has its own TV, the free weights don’t give me metal splinters, people are actually my age, the locker room is pretty clean, etc. Basically, it’s smothered in awesome sauce. (Thanks for that one, Jen!)

The roommates: This couldn’t have worked out better. We all get along great and haven’t annoyed each other (that we know of) so I’m thinking these are good matches. Lyndsay is in Sport Management with me and Ilana is going for her Master’s in Musical Theater.

Ithaca College campus: I am here for school so I guess this is pretty important. Just as I was told, it’s a gorgeous place! I’ve gotten lost once or twice on campus, but that’s supposed to happen.

Sport Management crew: While my program seems like it’s going to be pretty intense, everyone gets along great which will come in handy I’m sure. The few girls we have are already planning an outing tomorrow night and others have a little bromance going so this should be a pretty fun bunch. It’s weird to be able to have legit sports-related conversations with girls that actually get it, know what I’m talking about AND like it!

The assistantship: This should be super fun and a great learning experience. I’m working with the Athletics Department, focusing on Event Management. My first task – work the field hockey game Thursday. My second – Football game Saturday. Sounds pretty sweet if you ask me. I know I’ll be spending a ton of time here – our new Athletics and Events Center that houses swimming, indoor track, a bomb weight room, field hockey and soccer field. Triathlete friends – you might have to come visit me just to look at the pool. Be Jealous.

So ya, that’s my last week in a nutshell. Oh and of course I’ve got a ‘Must-do-in-Ithaca-before-I-leave’ list going: hicking, gorge, picnic, Syracuse football, visit Cornell, it’s getting longer by the minute.

I mean, I was excited before, but now that I’ve seen what this next year holds… I’M REALLY EXCITED!!! I plan on taking advantage of every opportunity and enjoying the journey for once. Like I’ve said several times, I’ve got one year to do grad school and I’m going to do it right.

Here’s to my new place of living and I believe Jay-Z has put it best …

There's nothin' you can't do
Now you're in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Let's hear it for New York, New York, New York”

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Peace Out, Maine

This day has been a long time coming. I have been talking about my departure for graduate school for over a year now but I can’t believe it’s actually here. These past 365 days have been crazy. I have enjoyed every moment for what it is – happy or sad – made continuous memories and taken advantage of my opportunities. I had so much fun and I will always look back fondly on my Maine memories. Not really sure if I’ll ever have a Vacationland address again, but Maine will always be home.

While I’m sad to leave the good ole’ Pine Tree State and the great people in it, I am proud to report that I am ready to move on to the Big Apple. I know I’m so ready to do this and I’m not just saying that. I’m ready to go back to school after this three-month break, to meet new people and focus on the future.

I can’t wait to go somewhere that no one really knows me

…somewhere that will be completely new

…somewhere that holds lots of promise for my future

…somewhere that I can grab life by the horns (ya, Dodge, you love it)

…somewhere I’ll make friends for life

…somewhere I’ll learn life lessons

…somewhere that I’ll make my own

I have done everything to prepare for this day and the next chapter of my life. The possibilities are endless and I’ve only got one shot to do this. I’m doing things for me while I still can and I’m going to love every minute of it.

As Jenessa and Karen have so wonderfully reminded me, ‘It’s a glamorous life’ and I plan on living it to the full extent.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Y? Because it's awesome.

Despite the fact that I have known this day would come for months now, I can’t believe it’s finally here. My last day at the gym.


I guess it’s only fitting that I finally post one of my favorite entries to commemorate this day. This post is full of laughs, tears, fitness tips and words of wisdom from some ladies I’m super sad to leave behind. I'm not posting pictures, well, because I don't want to. No need for them this time. Just sit back, enjoy and be jealous that these peeps aren't yours.

Jen –The first time I met Jen, she admitted that she creeped me on Danielle’s blog and recognized my shorts from the Maine Marathon. Boy am I glad she did! As self-proclaimed in her blog, Jen went from fat to fit and she truly inspires me every single day, but not just from her phsycial transformation. Jen has encouraged me to live my life for me, take care of myself first, etc. since I met her. She was proud of me when I acted like a 23-year old and taught me to appreciate my independence but always made sure to offer motherly words. She was always there for a hug, a super-big smile or to offer a completely inappropriate comment. “I’ll shove her face in my a** flab and see how she likes that.” – Yup, that’s my favorite. Jen is the epitome of how hard work and success translates into rewards and I can only hope that I can carry her motivation into my future.

Steph – I have never met someone who I can so comfortably talk about poop with than Steph. During our many early morning workouts, Steph and I have proudly proclaimed all things No. 2. In addition to our endless references to poop, we have shared some great moments. Steph taught me many things – the killer version of the deadlift, to keep my shoulder blades retracted, what butt cramps on the recumbent bike feel like and that some things leave one ‘hurting for four days.’ While those tips will always come in handy, Steph shared one thing with me that I will stick forever – I’m young and have my whole life ahead of me. This came at the perfect time and was like a total epiphany for me. I tend to live life to the fullest but forget to enjoy the journey and so I’ve made a conscious effort to find a perfect balance.

Misty – Oh Misty. Where to begin. I never really thought that the day we met at the Polar Bear Tri that we would become friends. We had a blast at Reach the Beach, snuggling on my nights off, sharing stories, shopping and most of all – complaining – about everything. Like Jen and Steph, Misty reinforced the idea of living life to the fullest. She taught me to enjoy life while it lasts and enjoy each and every moment for what they are. I’m not going to share specifics because there are far too many, but I will say that I’m going to miss this woman. She has always been one to express how proud she is of me, support my every move and make sure I too, am proud of myself. Misty has also grown herself – she’s becoming quite the yogi and I know she’ll be sending me relaxing yoga poses all semester long!

Erin – My true gym mom. Erin has been the closest to a motherly figure I’ve had at the gym (don’t get me wrong, all these ladies have done their share of mothering, but not like Erin). She told me when to stop working out and rest, asked me how my big events went, checked in on my injuries, let me vent countless times and I’m pretty sure got nervous for me when I took the GREs. She’s awesome. Her four-year old son may nearly be the same height as she is, but she really is super mom, super wife, super marathoner and I’m glad to say super friend.

Veronica – I’m so glad to say that Veronica and I put our respective judgmental bitch faces aside and got to know each other. In addition to the gym, she rocked the Maine Marathon and USM with me. She’s becoming a super figure competitor and I couldn’t be more proud (and a bit jealous!) of her intensity, determination, motivation and stick-to-it-ness.

Jenn – I think they’ve all said it – Enjoy life while you can. Along with the aforementioned Jen, Jenn has listened to some very intense stories of mine, all the while encouraging me to what I want when I want. Her advice and sarcasm has helped keep me sane this summer and I think it’s safe to say that I’ve done the same for her. She tried to teach me some sweet plank moves, but my awesome coordination does not allow for that to happen. She listened, laughed, shared Army base secrets with me and is always encouraging me to strive for the best. Jenn, of course I’ll misdeeds you. Way too much for my own good.

Lisa, Chris, Charles, Kris, PG, Todd, the old guy who asks me how work is every morning, Dick, Carlo and the hotties who will remain nameless – It’s been real. Thanks for always being there to smile at me, laugh at me and heckle me.

Well, that’s that. You never know where you’ll meet someone great. I’m lucky enough to have a ton of them in one building! While each relationship may sound familiar, each of the above ladies have had a huge impact on my life and I’ll miss them dearly. I see most of them every day and they have become my irreplaceable little gym family. I’ll miss that manly automated voice ‘welcoming’ me each time I buzz in, the awesome locker room smell, the oh-so-interesting individuals that attend the Y and well, pretty much everything about that darn place! Can’t wait to come back and steal my mom’s membership for a return visit!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Top 10 Maine Places I'll Miss

Well, I’m back! I know it’s been a while, but I’ve been busy and things are about to get even more insane. On Thursday, yes, Thursday, I leave for New York. I’m heading to the 607 for grad school and I’m not really sure if I’ll ever come back to the 207. I mean I’ll be back to visit obviously – my family, friends and some of my favorite places are in Maine. I have lived here for 23 years and I’ve got so many memories in the pine tree state, but it’s time for me to find my inner Columbus and do some exploring. So, without further ado, here are the top 10 places I’ll miss (in no particular order).

No. 1 – My house – I’ve become quite fond of the place I’ve been living in for the past 12 years. I’m super close with Mom, Dad, Michelle and my grandparents and I’ll miss them dearly. I’ll miss my walk-in closet, cute bathroom, the ‘man room,’ the claw foot bathtub that provided several ice baths, Mom’s cooking, Dad’s everyday solutions, and pretty much everything about Michelle. Lucky for me, I know it’ll all be waiting when I return for a visit.

No. 2 – The gym – The Northern York County YMCA may sound like it’s a gym for people over the age of 60 and it pretty much is, except for my phenomenal group of friends/running buddies/female meatheads. Call them what you want, they’re awesome. We’ve made great memories, laughed about so many things, cried, shared inappropriate stories and supported each other through several individual feats. More on this wonderful place later.

No. 3 – University of Southern Maine – Karma. Murphy’s Law. Fate. Whatever it may be, it’s pretty funny that the one place I dreaded going four years ago is one of the places I’ll miss the most. I met some of my best friends there and had great experiences that have helped shape me into who I am today. One class totally changed my career path and I look forward to seeing where sports management takes me. By the end of my time as a Husky, I was soooo good at stalking people for a space in the parking garage, navigating MaineStreet, paying to print and arguing with all of my liberal classmates. It was fun.

No. 4 – The beach – I’m going to upstate New York. This means two things: 1. No beach. 2. Lots of snow. Sounds less than awesome, but I mean, as of right now, it’s only for nine months.

No. 5 – Trader Joes/No. 6 – Whole Foods – Love, love, love both of these places. I’m usually in and out of the Marginal Way organic shopping area in less than an hour with everything I need. Not looking forward to getting used to a new organic/health food store. BUT, there is a pretty sweet looking farmer’s market right down the street from me!!!

No. 7 – The Old Port – Oh, Old Port, how much fun you have provided me with in these last two years. I have to laugh when I think about it, because there have been some pretty awesome times. There doesn’t really need to be an explanation for the fun I’ve had there – that’s between me and whoever had the pleasure of enjoying it with me. “Are we moving?”… ‘It’s going to be a dangerous night!”… Just you wait until I’m back to visit.

No. 8 – Arundel Wharf – Pretty sweet location for a summer job, don’t you think? I worked on a deck, in the sun, watching the sun rise, boats sail around the port, in a polo and shorts. Fun! I’m pretty over the tourists, but it was a great way to make money this summer. I met some great people who go all over the country for school, work and fun and I hope I can stay in touch with most of them.

No. 9 – Birchwood Lane – Ever since the ‘kids’ made dinner last summer, there have been thousands of laughs at a certain Birchwood Lane residence. I wouldn’t say is necessarily the house itself that I’ll miss as much as the people in it. The nine of us all together make up some of the best family anyone could ask for. How can I not miss them?!

No 10 – Maine Running Company – The absolute best running supply store in the state has provided me with everything I need for the most rewarding hobby I’ve ever had. Sneakers, rollers, body glide, Feetures socks and my cute Beach to Beacon outfits have all come from Maine Running, and this girl has grown a bit attached! I did see something similar in Ithaca, but it’ll take some getting used to.

Top 10 Places I

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

College -- Been There, Done That

I’m done college. No, really, I’m done college. YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Now that it’s been over two weeks, I can actually discuss this topic rationally and without a flood of emotion. Ask me 10 days ago and I would have started crying. The last two weeks of school I was truly sad – when I walked up the steps to Luther Bonney, while circling the parking garage in search of a spot and when I found out printing was free in the lab during finals week. Even after graduation I was an emotional wreck. I couldn’t believe I was done. I was lost. I didn’t know where to go next, what to do next or how to not wake up to an alarm. I was out of my routine and hating every minute of it. Luckily for you, I’m baaaaaccckkk and the future looks friggen bright. Like I said, now that I’m done I can truly celebrate my accomplishments and give myself a good ole’ pat on the back.

The week leading up to graduation was dubbed Senior Week and act like college seniors we did. My friends and I had a ton of fun. We went bowling – big ball and I proudly threw a couple spares with a 12-pounder. Don’t read too far into that, I’m really not good. Here’s my I-just-threw-my-third-gutter-ball-in-a-row reaction:

And here’s Danielle, Alesia and I:

We did trivia and by ‘did’ I mean ‘dominated.’ We won. Thanks to my Backstreet Boys, cereal and running sneaker knowledge, Corey’s animal factoids and Alesia’s memorization of Jenny’s phone number. You know … 8-7-6-5-3-0-9. Here are the boys all squished in the back seat. I drove and they let Alesia sit in the front. We all know it’s so they could snuggle.

We went to Alumni Happy Hour and out for College Night in the Old Port. With the exception of my bra strap hanging out, don’t Alesia and I look cute?

Misty even joined us for some fun that night!

Look who else I found? This is some back-in-the-day St. James Seahawk and Biddeford Tiger action – Carly and Tiffany, who I’ve known since I was a little kid.

Then, on Saturday, we graduated! Here’s Danielle, Alesia and I before donning the cap and gown:

This might be my most favorite picture of the day. Alesia and I went through college pretty much side-by-side. We had the same major and minor and I don’t know what I would have done without her. I do know I would have been a lot more stressed and without a ton of laughs if she wasn’t there.

Here’s another kid I’m glad I had around all those years. Kyle ALWAYS made me laugh and helped me realize when I needed to chill out. We had tons of classes together and could always count on Kyle showing up a tad bit fashionably late, but I loved it – gave me something to look forward to after the initial five minutes of class went by. I know he hates this picture, but I’m okay with it.

And Big Jon and I … I know you remember him from the Into the Mud Challenge post. Funny story – After we graduated, we realized through some Facebook chatter that we have a lot of mutual friends we had no idea about. Small, small world. Finally, a family photo that we all look happy. I have been trying to perfect this forever.

That’s it I guess. Four-and-a-half years at the University of Southern Maine and I couldn’t be happier with my decisions to date. I remember, and I know my mom and high school athletic trainer do, too, just how much I didn’t want to be a Husky. After a couple months of being pretty sick with mono, the last thing I wanted to do was go to the college everyone I knew from high school went to. I expected to see these former classmates of mine all the time, but truth be told, I rarely did. I had classes with a few of them, but it was nothing like I expected. Turns out, USM was exactly where I needed to be and I can proudly say that it was one of the best experiences of my life. I was dedicated to my studies, involved in student-led organizations and represented the university as a Peer Advisor, Orientation Leader and Mentor. I learned so much about myself and developed into the girl (that’s right, still a girl) I am today thanks to my experience at USM. I discovered my love for sport management and had the confidence to work toward new goals with the support of my professors and peers. I am happy to say that I truly sucked the life out of my college experience and I don’t regret a thing. I can move onto the next stage of my life knowing that I will succeed, pleased with the past and excited for the future.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Into the Mud Challenge

Just over two weeks ago, my Sport Event Management class at the University of Southern Maine held the inaugural Into the Mud Challenge. It was a 2.5-mile 16-obstacle mud run (you have NO IDEA how many times I said this, typed this, heard this) put on completely by students. We did absolutely everything from start to finish and I couldn’t be more proud of my fellow classmates. This damn thing consumed my life. Ask anyone who has seen me in the past five months. This consummation was definitely my own fault – I took on the position of Race Director – but I mean Event Management is what I want to do with the rest of my life.

Alright, on with this Into the Mud Challenge thing.

We started planning this back in September but really kicked it into super-high gear in January. I should have known this class was going to be high stress when we had a legit argument about what to call this event during the first class meeting. Good thing my side won and we ended up with Into the Mud Challenge. Haha.

Throughout the rest of this post I’m going to refer to a lot of people so let’s get it straight who they are now.

My Justins. Yup, for five months, I had two Justins. Haha. They were my right-hand guys and I could count on them for everything. They were two of the Race Managers and did a phenomenal job with all things race course and festival area. I seriously think I had 50 phone conversations, maybe more, with each of them the week leading up to the event.

My guys/dudes/men. Again, I’m taking possession of people. These guys I refer to were my Event Operations group. Looking back, I couldn’t be happier with the group that I was assigned to. We made fun of each other (well, they made fun of my pink rain boots), we laughed, I baked them cookies, they drove me crazy, I know I drove them crazy, we complained, we gave each other nicknames (that’s for you, Big Jon!), and laughed every time someone said ‘where are the hoes’ without the word ‘garden’ in there, but we got it done and had a great time doing it.

My professors. We were lucky to have two wonderful ladies guide us through this entire process. While I admit I sometimes wanted to freak out at them, thankfully for all involved, I didn’t.

Back to event preparation. In the four weeks leading up to the May 7 event, my guys and I were out there all the time. I’m not kidding when I say this. Every so often we had the privilege of some additional classmates, but for the most part it was us, a whole lot of landscaping tools and the woods. I became one with nature, used an axe, started a rototiller, got a farmer’s tan, found a tick or two on me, but I’m proud to say I never peed in the woods!

Here’s Brett cutting branches off a tree we ultimately cut down anyway. Haha.

As the event got closer, one of the Justin’s appeared on local television show, Good Day Maine, with me. The five-minute segment went super quick and I’d say we pretty much dominated that thing. Don’t we look cute? (Note the sarcasm. Horrible job freezing us, FOX)
More course prep … Justin, Kevin and Nick tearing up and soaking down the course with a fire hose. Actually, it looks more like Kevin and Nick watching Justin do all the work, but does it really matter now? Haha.Oh and take a look at this … the beginnings of the giant mud pit that greeted participants at the end.Now for the actual event. It. Was. Great. We had 362 people – 162 more than we had originally hoped for! Everything went completely flawless and I couldn’t be happier with its success. Putting on this event required a whole new level of dedication – My car turned into a utility vehicle, I wore rain pants, I picked up landscaping tools at 10:30 p.m. on a Thursday night, I thought about tarps before I fell asleep, dreamt about the event and pushed the heaviest cart ever around Wal*Mart.

Here are some great pictures from the event:Danielle and Hayden!! I know you wish you were here. We actually wish we ran it, too. Maybe we’ll make an appearance next year, but we were busy making sure everything went smoothly this time around. Here’s one of my Justin’s and I post-event.Justin and I were actually so close to running the course the night before but instead got an ‘emergency’ call for help from our professors moments before we went out. I didn’t really think it was a huge deal, but Justin rushed me along and come to find out it was. Slightly more of a humorous emergency, but still an emergency. When one of my professors tried to loosen a spigot on a nearby building, it came loose and 90 pounds of water pressure flew out of the building and did not stop. I wasn’t about to attempt to fix this, but poor Justin tried to shove the spigot back in there. No dice. Luckily we had a call-this-in-case-of-emergency number and literally washed our hands of it. I wish I would have taken pictures of this, but sadly, I didn’t.

I was so happy to have both my friends and family there to support me day of. Here I am with Misty (volunteer) and three participants: Misty’s son Zach, Veronica and her daughter.

Veronica and Arianna definitely get props for the event’s cutest picture! Apparently Arianna was not loving it, but her marathon-running mom was not about to let her quit. So. Cute. And here’s one of my favorite teams. We’ll call them The Doctors. My sister, her boyfriend and her friend.Check out this action shot of my sister absolutely LOVING the mud. Haha.
And another, Team Olive Garden, complete with green linens crossing the finish line. They look great and had so much fun.And here’s my entire class, complete with our professors, post-event: For most of my classmates, this was just another class they took. For me, this was something that helped to confirm my future. It could have been the relief that it was over or it could have been the fact that I didn’t sleep the night before, but I actually felt kind of emotional at the end. I was so pleased with everything Into the Mud Challenge and glad it wasn’t a huge flop (believe me, I worried about that happening a lot). Every instinctive decision I made seemed to be the right one and I am confident in my ability to lead. Now that it’s all said and done, I think I really could make this my career. With the help from a couple friends, of course.

In the days following Into the Mud Challenge, I got two messages that meant the world to me. The first, from my former internship boss, in which he shared how impressed he was with the event. He told me it was very well run, had great numbers and was so much fun. The second came from a friend who participated simply because our friends were, too. The next morning, I woke up to, ‘That picture you posted on my wall is great! I had such a great time yesterday!’ This girl is not a runner, nor do I think she wants to be and that’s why I was so happy that she has fun. If we were able to create an event that someone out of the target demographic enjoyed, then hands down, it was a success.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hey there, Grad School

Two years ago, one of my trusted professors told me that I should seriously consider attending graduate school upon completion of my undergrad at USM. At that time, I was convinced that I would be continuing my education in journalism – specifically broadcast. I had wanted to be a sportscaster since I was oh, about, five years old, so that’s what I was going to do. Then, last spring, I took a sport marketing class as part of my business administration minor and BOOM! I was in love with all things sport management. Long story short, I interned at a sport event management company over the summer and focused my final year taking each and every sport management class I could. I decided at the beginning of last summer that I wanted to pursue my love for sports and advance my education through a master’s in sport management.

And that’s where the fun, er, total stress-laden, anxiety-filled, scary, exciting seven-month search began.

It all started on October 23rd when I got a whopping 950 on my GREs. Definitely was not expecting that. I read somewhere that average was 1000 so needless to say, Andrea felt like a giant idiot. After more investigating, I realized that it would probably be a good idea to take the GMAT, especially since I bombed the first set of standardized tests. Well, that went about as well as the GREs. Once again, scored just below the 500 average with a 490. COME ON! I was not impressed. The idiot complex soared, but I wasn’t about to take either of them again, nor did I have the time. So, on I went to applying.

The University of Central Florida was due January 15 and at the time, it was my first choice. Warm weather, Orlando Magic, great program, hundreds of miles away – how could I go wrong?

Syracuse University and University of Massachusetts were next. Syracuse … I’ve wanted in here since I was a kid. A few of my friends have attended and were huge advocates, along with my sports professor. Unfortunately, the Cuse does not have a sport management master’s program, but they do have the top broadcast and digital journalism program in the country. I had to apply. I mean, sports broadcasting has been my dream forever and I couldn’t give up on it that easily. February was definitely a month for applying to the country’s top programs. UMass was a super duper looooong shot as one of the top two sport management programs in the country. It was the second ever established and I figured since I was doing all these other applications, what was one more?

Ithaca College was due by March 1 and then South Carolina followed with a summer due date of July 1. I was in the application groove and hammered those two out right after Syracuse and UMass. I really, really liked Ithaca – it’s program, the highly-recommended staff, the city, the opportunity – but I’ll admit, the fact that it’s in the New York snow belt was not cool. South Carolina on the other hand – great weather, Division I sports – sounds pretty good, huh? Didn’t really love their program, but one of my trusted professors said it was a top school, so add that to the list.

Then came the hard part, the wicked hard part, if you will. Waiting. Waiting. And more waiting. You can ask any one of my friends, family members, gym girls, co-workers, classmates, you name it. I. Was. A. Wreck. It’s all I thought about and all I could focus on. Two of my best friends had already been accepted and I couldn’t stand waiting. Alesia had gotten at least three acceptances before I got my first response.

It was just days after I sent my application to UMass that I opened my e-mail to find a message from the UMass Graduate Office. My heart sank and my stomach fluttered. When I saw it, I was sitting in a meeting, one that I was supposed to be leading, and I contemplated for a good five minutes whether or not to open it. I have no idea what happened in those five minutes, but I opened it. Bad. Idea. In big, and when I say big, I mean size 72 font, red letters, I saw the word DENIED. Oh man. I didn’t know what to do. (Note to self: Never open an e-mail determining your future during a meeting. I was toast after that.) The only thing that made this okay was that I knew it was my long shot and I didn’t expect to get in anyway.

Days went by and I eventually got over it. That is, until I received another gem in my inbox, this time from Central Florida. My heart raced (this could have been because I had just returned from a run), my stomach ached and I clicked it. After reading the first sentence, I knew where this was going. ‘Thank you for your application…yada, yada.’ I was 0-for-2. Immediately, the tears poured out of my eyes and I followed that with the longest shower I had in a long time. I was devastated. At that point, I had convinced myself that I was going to Olive Garden University and was going to turn into the biggest townie this place had ever seen. I could see it – Friday night football games, wearing my high school colors around town, hooking up with former boyfriends, looking forward to grocery shopping, etc. I was a mess.

A couple days later I met with my trusted professor and nearly had a breakdown in her office. She pretty much told me to chill out in a nice, understanding, caring, sympathetic way. She gave me a couple more schools to apply to that didn’t have as she said, ‘such high requirements.’ Leave it up to me to apply to some of the hardest schools in the country without a safety school for backup. After much investigating, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to apply to the University of Louisville. My professor couldn't stop talking about it and said it would be a great place for me. The timing was actually perfect – I was days away from visiting a friend who is enrolled in the same program I would be and so I scoped it out with different eyes.

Just before I left and days after my professor-led counseling session, I decided to check the Ithaca database to see if I had been denied from a third straight school (I know, so positive). Funny thing happened. The database loaded and next to my name was one word that read: Accepted. ACCEPTED?! WHAT?! REALLY?! I didn’t believe it, obviously. I even took a picture and sent it to three people – my two friends that were recently accepted into grad school and my one friend that was already attending Louisville. They confirmed that I wasn’t nuts and so the celebration began. I was the only one in my house at the time but Katy Perry and I did a whole lot of dancing and singing to ‘Firework’ that afternoon. I was on cloud-freaking-nine for a couple of days/weeks. I pretty much felt like Rocky when he got to the top of the Art Museum’s 72-step stairway.

Oh and in the midst of all this, I went to and came back from Louisville. I had a great time and could totally picture myself there (the 4th Street bar scene might have had something to do with this). And so I applied.

Then came my acceptance, yes acceptance, to Syracuse. I was one of a dozen students to get accepted to the best broadcast journalism program in the country and I was thrilled. Even though this wasn’t my first choice, I was extremely happy and seriously considered switching my entire career path. I hated the thought of completely throwing away a dream that I had since I was in kindergarten, so I did some investigating. Once again, timing played a huge part in helping my decision. I spoke several times with two local news anchors (one of which does sports) and even took a little field trip to one of the stations. I also appeared on a local news show to promote a mud run my sport event management class was putting on. All of those conversations, experiences and interactions with broadcast news confirmed my love for sport management. I no longer wanted to be the outsider looking in, searching for information and reporting it to information-hungry consumers. I wanted to be the information source, the one in charge of the action, telling the media that the athletes aren’t ready for their questions yet. And that’s what I’ll do. Too bad, cause I would have looked damn cute in this: (I’m sure Danielle is in agreement.)

In the meantime, I was awarded a graduate assistantship at Ithaca working with the Head of Athletics. It would cover nearly half of my tuition and give me a stipend. This snowy city was sounding a whole lot better each day. Oh, I almost forgot! Speaking of snow, the day after I returned from Louisville, my mom and I drove to eight hours to Ithaca. I was scheduled to meet with the department head, professors, get tours and experience the city, but Mother Nature dropped a foot of snow on the city and I had to get out of Dodge quickly. I really liked what I saw, even if it was in shades of white, so I felt a lot better about the possibility of becoming an Ithaca Bomber (seriously, who comes up with mascots?). However, I was able to talk with the department head and she said everything I wanted to hear about the curriculum, internships, her connections and my future. (I bet you know where this is going…)

To make a really long story short, I was also accepted at South Carolina and Louisville. South Carolina has offered me two assistantships, one of which covers the entire two-year tuition, but I just don’t love their program. Oh and going with this mascot thing … they are the Game Cocks ... and in the words of Kevin from 'Home Alone,' 'I don’t think so.' Then again, I could wear this shirt …

I have yet to hear about financial awards or graduate assistantships from Cardinal Nation, but unless it’s handed to me on a silver platter (thanks, Andrew!), you can find me donning blue and gold at Ithaca. On paper it seems like this decision was easy, but it was one of the toughest I have ever made. Just ask that laundry list of people I previously mentioned.

There will be so much more on this in the coming months. You know, the sappy, exciting, can’t-wait-to-leave, don’t-want-to-leave, what’s next, etc. Get. Ready.