It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve been able to take a breath and update what feels like one of the ten million things I’ve been up to. Whether it be covering the Trenton Titans, Princeton Tigers or any of the various MLB and AHL assignments I’ve been on since the Thunder season came to a close, I’ve certainly kept myself busy.
That wasn’t always the plan.
It was in the early morning hours of June 12, 2012 that I thought perhaps I’d covered my last game. I was a few hours removed from having been on the ice interviewing Los Angeles Kings players after they’d won the Stanley Cup, and it was then and remains now the greatest thing I’ve ever been a part of in my ten-year career. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to top it, and have always felt like there was a lot to be said for going out on top…and while I’m hardly “on top,” that feeling was as close as I felt I was going to get.
So I considered making Game 6 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals the last game I ever covered. But, while stretched out on top of several wildly uncomfortable chairs at LAX waiting for my long flight back home, I had plenty of time to think about that decision.
I’ve covered the Thunder since 2004, but really since 2006…and well, really since 2008. I did a handful of games as a photographer my first two years, then took over the beat in 2006. But it was this blog that changed everything for me in 2008, and provided a lot of the opportunities I’m able to take advantage of today.
I also thought about this year’s team, and how they’d made it fun again for me. I hate being in a clubhouse. Hate it. I will always believe that reporters should have access to it, but there’s always that feeling of being in their space and not always being welcome, so it’s always an uncomfortable feeling for me. Part of the job, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.
But this was a fantastic group of guys to cover this season, and it was great being around those guys regardless of the setting. I thought about the friendships I’ve made and relationships that I’ve been able to cultivate over the past nine seasons…and I wasn’t ready to give all of that up yet, despite what would perhaps be my better judgment.
I will be 30 when the 2013 season starts, and this is by no means a guarantee that I’ll be able to return…I’ve done so much with so little, and I’m proud of that. But I can’t keep doing this without generating a significantly bigger income, which can get me out of my roommates’ house (see: my parents) once and for all. I’ll be able to afford a car, the insurance for it, and a place for me and my surprisingly cute girlfriend, Candice, to live in. I’m grateful for what I do have and the people I have around me, but I have to do better…and there is going to come a point, whether I go out “on top” or not, where this isn’t going to be my best option.
But, right now, it is. I’d love to come back next season, and if that’s realistic, you’ll see me in the press box on Opening Day. I may not necessarily have the biggest smile on my face, but you shouldn’t take that as an indication of whether I’m happy or not…most people in there rarely see me happy anyway.
There are — this is a thank you post, after all — some people I need to thank. I could not do this job without Bill Cook. I have been so incredibly blessed to work two of the best media relations people in the business in Bill and Somerset’s Marc Russinoff, and I absolutely would not be where I’m at without the efforts of either. Bill is an incredible nice guy who will go so incredibly far out of his way to take care of you, and his work…both visible and behind the scenes, should serve as a model for how people in his position should do their jobs.
I also need to thank Jay Burnham and Josh Maurer, both tremendous people as well as exceptionally talented radio guys…was always enjoyable hanging out with them on the road, and Trenton is very fortunate to have two people as professional and fun to be around as they are.
The Thunder front office is always a blast to be around — yes, even Eric Lipsman when he chirps me on Twitter, which is usually in good fun anyway — and I thank them for opening their stadium to me for another season.
My press box colleagues — especially Josh Norris and John Nalbone — should be thanked not only for putting up with me for another season, but their help, friendship and guidance along the way.
But I literally cannot do my job without the cooperation of the players and coaching staff, and as I said earlier, they were truly fantastic to deal with this season. Special thanks to Tony Franklin for now having put up with me for six years.
I will continue to update this blog throughout the off-season, although my focus will be on covering the Trenton Titans and my national hockey coverage for The Trentonian. I am always available to interact with readers via e-mail — which I add to the end of every post — and Twitter: @mashmore98
And, to my readers…thank you. I certainly don’t do this for myself…this is for you. The blog — advertising and sponsored posts aside — is a labor of love. I enjoy reading the comments and e-mails I get from all of you, and hope to see you all next season.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com