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Posts Tagged ‘Roller Derby

Top Chef: Me … and let’s go Angels!

Since returning home from the World Championships, I’ve been watching a lot of wrestling. I’ve been watching it in the form of old NWCA Convention and Clinic DVD’s. I’m doing some work for my old employer in building on to the technique video library we started when I was at InterMat about three years ago.

So far, I’ve put together 160 new technique clips, but I still have 9 years of DVD’s to rifle through. It’s a perk of the NWCA membership, and if you’re so interested in seeing how the “Coaches Corner” develops, check out http://www.nwcaonline.com.

Anyway, it’s long been known I’m an Angels fan. I still refuse to call them the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and I’ll forever refer to them as the California Angels or simple “Anaheim.” We knocked out the BoSox in a three-game sweep, with a remarkable comeback against fearsome Bah-ston closer Jonathan Papelbon.  Next up, the Evil Empire known as the New York Yankees.

I’m looking forward to a good ALCS, at least, to erase the memory of the 2005 ALCS when the Halos lost to the White Sox in a series involving a dropped strikeout or something I’d rather not remember.

I’m waiting for wrestling season, but the location of such is still undetermined. I won’t go into too many details as to why, but I’ll probably know something within the next two weeks.

In the meantime, you might know I stepped away from the Wrestling 411 project for several reasons I would rather not discuss, because while I still believe in the project and the need for a “SportsCenter” type of show for wrestling, our outfit was let down by a lot of people who said they would donate and then backed out on their word. That’s what happened people, they backed out on their word. No sugar coating it, excuses, whatever.

Anyway, Abby started her new job a few weeks ago and loves it. She commutes from her place into downtown Minneapolis, and a few times, I’ll drop her off in the morning, pick her up in the evening and then we’ll go do something cool. Last Friday, we ate at Fogo De Chao, which is a Brazilian steakhouse with some absolutely FANTASTIC food.

We haven’t gone out to eat much in the past month, because we’ve made an effort to make dinner at home. I discovered teh greatness of the Crock Pot and had some grill time before it got cold. Oh, and it snowed last week. Screw that. It’s October.

So while I’m in the middle of the job world, I’m freelancing and working from home, so I’m shouldering the load in making dinner. I’m actually finding out, I’m a pretty decent cook. I’ll take recipes, then add my own little tweaks to them. It’s been more cost-effective and healthier eating.

There’s also something about cooking your own meal, having it taste good, and of course, getting a look of satisfaction from the person you made dinner for. On one of our first few dates, I made her dinner. That was a treat. Well, now it’s like that all the time.

When I get back into the normal work force, I wonder how much that will continue, but I enjoy making dinner. It’s not that hard, really. I wonder why so many people would rather shove McDonalds down their kids’ throats than make something quick and easy.

I made my first fettuccine alfredo the other night. No, this wasn’t boiling noodles and pouring a bottled sauce over them, I made the alfredo sauce from scratch. And it was a sauce much lower in fat than traditional alfredo, because I didn’t use the heavy cream like so many recipes call for. Although, I’ll go with grated parm next time, rather than shredded, because grated would melt easier.

I made homemade fried apples the other day, a throwback from my childhood. When I lived in Newport News (at the first place in the Richneck area), we had an apple tree in the backyard and mom would do them up really good. Abby’s parents gave her a bag of apples from their apple tree and I went to work on them. I was super stoked they came out delicious.

Sunday, I get to make my first batch of chili. I know what you’re thinking, it’s chili, it’s easy. Well, I’ve eaten chili for a long time, it’s a staple of cold-weather living, in fact, Jake’s Sports Grill in New Brighton typically has great chili. But we’re having two of Abby’s friends over on Sunday to watch the Vikings (blah) game. So I’m making chili! Woot!

And Saturday, I’m taking Abby to check out her first roller derby event. The Minnesota Roller Girls take on the Carolina Roller Girls at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium. She’ll get to see what I’ve been talking about every time I take a drink out of a Dutchland Rollers draft glass purchased from Brendee’s in Lancaster.

Tonight, we’re going to eat at Emily’s Lebanese Delicatessen in Minneapolis. We saw this featured on the Travel Channel (or Food Network) a few months back and we’ve been wanting to try it.

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Written by Jason Bryant

October 16, 2009 at 5:11 pm

Posted in Blogging

Tagged with , ,

Wrestling fans outdrawn by Roller Derby?

I’m a little overdue for a poingant post about anything not relating to Wrestling411, but this weekend in Minnesota, something dawned on me that I feel wrestling fans need to address.

Kyle and I have harped constantly about fan support of college wrestling. In places like Iowa City, an off-day can mean 4,000 people. In New Brunswick, N.J., that’s an all-time record.

Rutgers beat Rider in an all-New Jersey dual over the weekend, drawing just over 4,000 fans with a solid high school dual as a prelim to entice a large crowd to see the state’s two Division I wrestling programs. Nice job, but that needs to be consistent, not a one-time deal, once in a blue moon.

In Denny Diehl’s most recent edition of the Lehigh Wrestling News (LUWN), he pointed out this attenance mark broke the previous mark, which was set 44-45 years ago.

Some of you might know I’ve got a relationship with Roller Derby. I spent time announcing derby back in Pennsylvania under my (registered) derby name — Horace N. Buggy. Last night, I checked out my first Minnesota Roller Girls (MNRG) bout. I took one of my roommates, who’d never seen derby. He’d also never seen wrestling on TV until two weeks ago.

Now, I’m used to seeing derby in rinks surrounded by concrete walls. ESPN did a feature on Roller Derby not too long ago. This isn’t the banked-track type many might think of, but Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby.

But here’s the thing … the capacity of the “legendary” Roy Wilkins Auditorium in downtown St. Paul is about 4,000. There were at least 3,500 people there last night. It blew me away. It was a real event, big time, concessions, beer sales, merchandise.

Compare that to what I saw today, about 10 miles from where I sat last night. The Sports Pavilion on Minnesota’s campus saw 2,571 come through the doors. That’s not a bad crowd, especially when I’ve announced duals in front of 50 fans.

But Roller Derby drew more fans than Minnesota wrestling did on Sunday against Michigan State.

Before fans make excuses about the weather (it was sunny, with a slight breeze and 10 degrees — in Minnesota, we call that WARM for January) or the team (Michigan State is the only unranked team in the Big Ten), you’re telling me that Roller Derby outdrew college wrestling in the same area?

I didn’t hear a single commercial for the MNRG bout, but I saw sponsor booths, vendors, radio station bumper stickers (For an NPR station!) and a carnival atmosphere. The smell of PBR and mini-donuts and overcooked hot dogs oozed from the place.

So why only 2,500 for a college wrestling dual? We will complain about lack of television coverage, but until wrestling fans start showing up more than once in a while, we’re going to be relegated as a second-tier sport, disrespected … not by the networks, but by our own sport itself.

We can make excuses that “Oh, it was just Michigan State, I’ll go when they wrestle someone good.” That’s like playing the lottery when the jackpot only gets over $80 million or something. What, a little bit isn’t good enough?

C’mon people. I really enjoy Roller Derby, but I love wrestling and I sat back and wondered what is it going to take for us to finally get off our butts, stop making excuses and go to a wrestling match, any match, all matches, bringing people, to NOT get outdrawn by Roller Derby.

I don’t know what marketing the MNRG uses, but they started out in a small rink (much like Dutchland) and now have sellouts, halftime entertainment, a risk factor with the contact sport.

And the thing is … more people here in Minnesota know about wrestling than they do Roller Derby, BUT I can’t prove that based on the attendance I’ve seen. This isn’t just in Minnesota, because I know Dutchland outdraws both Millersville and F&M combined. The Windy City Roller Girls outdraw Northwestern on average.

We, as fans, point to basketball constantly about coverage. We don’t get this, but basketball does. Why are we focusing on a sport every Division I school plays (I haven’t looked it up, but I’m sure the 300-plus D1 schools all have hoops)?

We’re being outdrawn by Roller Derby. That’s a great thing for derby fans, but if wrestling fans are so passionate about supporting their teams and programs, even in wrestling hotbeds like the midwest and Pennsylvania, we sure have a funny way of showing it.

I’m happy that there’s such a following for MNRG and Roller Derby in general, but they make their events … events. Jim Harshaw talks about marketing our sport (no, this isn’t a name-drop, but it’s something people have read about on the boards and on Flo recently), well, I can’t think of a better reason to kickstart the marketing of our ON CAMPUS duals than to realize we’re now drawing fewer fans in some areas than Roller Derby.

Some schools have meet and greets and autograph signings, Derby has after parties. Same general concept that the Gopher club uses here in Minnesota with a bus to and from the meet point. Great. The interaction between fans of derby and the derby girls themselves is something that gets people coming back. Perhaps we need more of that.

Mike Denney at Nebraska-Omaha had about 800 fans on Friday, which for Division II, isn’t a bad draw against a non-traditional opponent like Augsburg. But they honored local coaches, threw t-shirts into the crowd, had a great opening intro sequence, made it fun to show up and watch. Wrestlers mingled with fans afterwards with ease.

We, as a sport, like the fact that our athletes are approachable and we don’t have the ushers shooing us away like in roundball … but we don’t take advantage of how good we have it.

Get to a match … because right now, I wouldn’t compare us to basketball … I’d strive to outdraw Roller Derby first.

Bottom line: Sports Pavilion and every wrestling venue SHOULD be full EVERY TIME OUT. Until that happens, we’re going to be a community relegated to whining on message boards about why the NCAA hates wrestling and why ESPN hates wrestling and why wrestling doesn’t get respect.

We must first respect our own sport by showing the support it deserves. I had fun at the derby bout last night … and for good reason, it was a good show.

Today’s Jayson Ness-Franklin Gomez bout was a good show … and more people could have been there to see it.

Written by Jason Bryant

January 25, 2009 at 11:41 pm