All images: Jonathan Check, Two Ten Soccer
I’ve never been good at goodbyes – as a matter of fact, I just don’t really know how to go about them at all and so I’ve never really done them. Of course there have been times when I say the words, but I pretty much know there will be a next time, so I don’t worry too much.
As Two Ten Soccer’s existence comes to an end, I can take some comfort in knowing this is not a final goodbye. I may end up still writing about San Antonio FC somewhere else, I may get another job that keeps me in the San Antonio area and I will attend matches in some capacity (I can barely recall going to a match as just a fan of SAFC), or I may have to move to really get my career and adult life kickstarted. Even if that last one happened though, you could always find me on social media anyway, namely my soccer Twitter. The only thing which is definitely ending is Two Ten Soccer and therefore my role with it.
Now that I’ve downplayed the enormity of departing Two Ten before we eventually scuttle it, let me mash my keyboard to tell you, dearest reader, what this site means to me.
I joined Pitch Black News in May 2016 after somebody (my father, I think) tipped me off that this website covering SAFC was looking to expand its staff. I didn’t know exactly what I may end up doing or for how long, but as I was about midway through pursuing a college degree in journalism, I knew I needed some sort of outside experience and this seemed like a good opportunity; in hindsight, I would say I was right.
Despite being in the middle of college and wanting some experience though, I never really thought of myself as an “intern,” and whenever I told people what I did for the site, I stressed that it wasn’t exactly like an internship. Sure, I was in the midst of a university education and learning on the job during the summer, but I had more freedom and less oversight than the typical intern, for better or worse.
During my time here, I did plenty of match recaps, some features, stat-based stories, a few opinion pieces, some social media work, interviewing, photography and even a bit of podcasting (I’m hoping my second outing with that, whenever it may be, goes more smoothly). I ruffled a number of feathers, drew praise as well as criticism, made some mistakes and tried to learn quickly from them. I witnessed and chronicled a number of highs, lows and everything in between. I was sometimes awash in article ideas and other times felt woefully bereft, but I found ways to drive forward.
Perhaps my favorite part of writing for this site has been the opportunities it afforded me to interact with players, coaches and staff with both SAFC and other teams. In particular, being attached to a legitimate website covering SAFC afforded me the opportunity to report on matches on the road which my parents went to just as superfans.
There are stories behind just about every media credential I’ve accrued, plus I have memories from those few times, mostly at the beginning, when I didn’t bother getting credentialed and just sat amongst the crowd. I covered away matches not to see the sights and collect credentials but to collect experiences which would mold me.
I learned how not all venues are as good as Toyota Field yet the game played is still the same, I got the experience of covering matches in less-than-desirable conditions, I watched a match pitchside and proceeded to write a recap with my own amateur photography included and published it while in a car heading back to San Antonio (don’t worry, I wasn’t driving), I balanced working on a recap and tweeting out live updates, I dealt with poor or nonexistent wifi, I even had the opportunity to cover a match in an MLS stadium.
Through all these experiences, I was also able to interact with other teams’ communication professionals – you know, the people doing the kind of things I’d like to do as a career. Sometimes the most interaction I had with a team’s PR person was through email and I never or hardly saw them when a match rolled around, but they opened the doors of their press boxes to me to do what I needed to and I’m certainly grateful for that. I’ve never been a good networker and still am not (maybe if I just “accidentally” dropped a business card on the ground in press boxes I visited…), but hopefully my name rings some bells positively in the memories of those people I interacted with.
I’d also like to add that before covering the match proper, my parents and I would often go to a tailgate or pregame party with the home fans, and it was enlightening to hear stories about their fandom, team’s history, experiences in the league and aspirations for soccer in their city. Although not quite in the same sense society has spoken about in recent years, it was a way of expanding my bubble.
Since I’ve started casually recognizing and thanking people, I suppose I may as well start formally and explicitly doing so, which is what I imagine will be the final major section of this post.
First and foremost, I want to thank the SAFC communications staff, Preston Petri and Luis Leyva in particular, for letting me watch and tell the story of about 50 home matches as well as come to a number of practices to find out what the players and coaches (people who understand what happens on the field much better than I do) think of one thing or another, and also just for giving me some opinions and advice about matters of soccer and life alike. They opened the gates for me to do what I have done on this site for the last two and a half years.
I would also like to thank those other reporters and storytellers I met while covering the team. A few particular names which stand out are Stephen Anderson and Chris Hockman, who were always good for discussion and debate of SAFC, broader soccer and even non-sporting matters before, during and after matches.
Next, I owe many thanks to all the players and coaches I have interviewed or just chatted with in my time covering SAFC, particularly Head Coach Darren Powell, who I spoke with just about every training session and match I went to (even some of the away matches). I can’t think of an unpleasant interview I had with anybody and I’d like to think the things we spoke about were thought-provoking and, if not always the most uplifting, at least worthy of consideration.
Because you guys know what you’re talking about when it comes to the game, it was also nice to hear when you liked a certain article or my writing in general – it let me know what I had to say wasn’t just a bunch of baloney, that I was making good points or telling your stories properly. You’re also just an entertaining bunch at times, like when you mess with a teammate while they’re being interviewed or you give a laughably frank or entertaining answer to an otherwise-serious question.
I definitely want to thank you, the reader, for trudging through my writing which at times may have been difficult, either based on the style, subject matter or even just time constraints, and just for interacting with me and the site in general. It’s nice to know people are reading and (hopefully) enjoying what we have to say or just want to get to know us, and my particular highlight was putting faces and personalities to the names I got to interact with online. I don’t recall getting much constructive criticism from you but you’re always welcome to pass some along so I can improve – I know there’s room for it, don’t hold back, my DM’s are open.
Two particular fans I’ve already mentioned who I’d like to thank again are my parents, especially for all the away trips, long or short, and for occasionally taking me to practices, helping me workshop some writing, sticking around later than they may like after matches while I put together recaps, etc. Of course I owe them for a lot more than what’s connected to SAFC and this site, but my scope here is understandably narrowed.
Finally, I want to thank the other writers and photographers who have contributed to this site alongside me. I owe thanks in particular to Kyle Mahnke for getting the wheels rolling, letting me hop onto what he already started and making me feel welcome to stick around for a few years. I’m happy to have gotten praise as well as criticism along the way and I know you’ve grown because of your experience with this site just like I have. Even if we never work on another project like this together again, nothing can erase the work and fun we’ve had over the last two and a half years.
I don’t know what the next step for me is, but I have a few ideas – hopefully I’m lucky and something good is on the horizon, but I have to meet it halfway. If you want to find out what ends up happening, keep an eye on my social media, or even just ask my parents (I don’t see why those fanatics would be disappearing from the SAFC scene anytime soon). And again, this is just the end of things at Two Ten, I’ll still be around and accessible.
Turning the page…