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I’m not Cameron Crowe, but knowing early is something else

Kyle Klingman, my partner in crime here at Wrestling 411, often points to the Cameron Crowe movie “Almost Famous” in referring to things I’ve done with writing. I love music, I love writing, I love the concept of being able to explain what I write to the common reader in terms they can understand, comprehend and envision.

But it’s a lazy Saturday here in Arden Hills and I’ve got a seven-mile run looming. There’s a point in this movie, where the character, William Miller, plays The Who’s “Tommy” and the track “Sparks” plays. It’s one of my favorite tunes by The Who and it made me want to tell another story.

I’ve been around sports for much of my life. Not my adult life, but my life in general. One of my early “gigs” was with a semipro football team back home in Virginia — the Peninsula Poseidons. They had an aggressive marketing campagin surrounding the Mason-Dixon Football League team. The team was nothing special, but Ed and George Fiscella, wrestling people before I knew they were wrestling people, got the community behind a team which comprised of shipyard workers, bartenders, bouncers and former high school football players. Some personalities had solid careers, like Brian Darden, a speedy wideout who played in the Canadian Football League. Others, like Kevin “Half Pint” Vines, stood at 5-foot-2.

Andy Cohen, a local real estate agent was the P.A. announcer, was an early model in announcing. Guy was hilarious and really gave me some insight on the sporting world.

Well, I started going to Poseidons games back in seventh grade. I kept track of the league, the stats, called up Ed Fiscella weekly on the Poseidons office line to get info on the league and the team. I ended up working as the press box assistant and even made the program. The spring of seventh grade, I moved to Poquoson, about 10 miles from Newport News, but still continued going to games and volunteering, trying to get any jump start on any experience I could in writing and broadcasting.

So in eighth grade, I sat at a Hardees waiting for my mom to come pick me up after a game. The game was a win by the Poseidons over the Virginia Invaders, a team based in Richmond. I sat down and started writing on a legal pad. I was writing a game story, for no other reason, than to write one. As I was sipping on my sweet tea when a couple of the Invader players started chit chatting with me about the game.

I said I was in middle school and wanted to be a sports broadcaster. The Invaders lost that particular game, but one of those guys asked to see what I was writing. They, as a group, read over it and actually thought it was good. It probably was bad. One of them even commented on how neat my handwriting was.

Well, as I sat there, and they offered me the rest of their fried chicken (which was new at Hardees at the time), I kept writing. I never thought that moment would mean anything, but I sometimes wonder what set this all into motion. I enjoy writing, I like covering a game or an event and providing an insight more than just a “who did what.”

One thing I learned in my time working at the Daily Press was the coverage feature. It’s standard in sports writing, but not too frequent in wrestling writing. Sometimes fans will complain that “you didn’t talk enough about this,” or “why didn’t you talk about that?” What I like about being able to write is to tell another angle of the story. What was the biggest part of the match? Well, to fans, that’s not always what intrigues the writer.

The biggest match in a dual isn’t always when the top two wrestlers in the country wrestle, but the worst two wrestlers in the respective starting line-ups decide the outcome.

But this isn’t about wrestling entirely. I’ve told stories about seemingly innocuous events in sports. I remember covering a women’s basketball home opener at Hampton University against the University of Virginia. Debbie Ryan was recovering from breast cancer. Hampton made it a game, but the powerful ACC team was too much.

I get on rants and ramble at times, but in watching “Almost Famous,” I think back of my own experiences growing up, writing about semi-pro football games and youth super bowls. I think about writing a feature on a local wrestler who went on to become a Division III All-American. I think about my start with the Peninsula Poseidons. I think about my start in wrestling.

I think about living that dream that Cameron Crowe outlined so well in a great rock movie.

Everyone has to start somewhere, I’m just happy I started before I even turned 13.

Now if I only could get motivated to edit video, clean the house, do laundry and then run seven miles.

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Written by Jason Bryant

June 13, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Posted in Not Completely About Wrestling

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Sometimes you have to just clarify things for yourself

I don’t know how this started, but I want to get away from the type of thinking that I have to be confrontational on everything. I don’t know how it happened. I used to be a much more fun-loving type of person. I still like to have fun and be goofy, joking and an all-around oddball, but I guess something hit me today that made me want to get some things out.

For years, I’ve always posted as my name on wrestling message boards, with one exception, and even in that case, people knew what my handle was.

I received an e-mail from wrestling fan and blogger Jim Brown about what we can do to save our wrestling programs. In that distribution list were a few people I’ve battled with online. Upon replying to Jim, I felt compelled to write another wrestling fan, effectively apologizing for some of the battles we’ve had.

Then another fan, via facebook.

It’s a small step, but I find myself more stressed in situations involving the sport I love so much. I guess some of it is because I see things differently. Not differently in terms of theory, but just how they play out on the wrestling landscape. Too many battles in this sport as it is for people to continue like it’s going.

I battled with my old bosses, not because I wanted to battle, but because we had different ways of getting to the end result. I’m stubborn. It’s something I believe I inherited from my dad. Not blaming him by any means, but he’s stubborn, my mom’s stubborn, I’m stubborn.

No, my opinion doesn’t “mean” more to the world than anyone else’s, but I guess I need to go back to conducting myself as a professional again. Too many years of training and work have gone by for me to revert to internet blowhard status. Some people will never get away from that, I don’t want to fall into it.

It used to be something I didn’t have to think about. I did things for the love of the sport on my own time. I guess when it becomes a “job,” things change. I don’t want my ideas and ideals to change because of “the bottom line.” I stick with my convictions pretty intently and that can sometimes be where the battles begin.

I like life to be challenging, but not for the sake of my reputation and all the hard work I’ve put together over the past decade.

Some of you might know what I’m talking about, some might not. But to those I’ve battled with, I’m sorry about being a prick at times. Right or wrong isn’t the point, it’s about how I’ve gone about things.

I guess it’s just being an emotional human being and learning more about myself each day. Deep breath. Things are great in my life … I just need that to show through with my actions, abilities and work-ethic.

That’s all I’ve got right now, just needed to put this down for no other reason than getting it down.

Written by Jason Bryant

June 8, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Posted in Blogging

Tagged with