Saturday, June 23, 2007

Looking back on the Odyssey

It was about a year ago, during a routine nagging session from my mother. We were on our way up to a Giants game, and she was performing her obligatory parental duty of pestering me about my plan for the fall, and my future with employment. Jokingly, I suggested they give me $10,000, and I'd spend the year following the Sharks around, going to every game. My mom, however, being the great mom she is, didn't see it as a joke. "And what are you going to get out of it? Are you going to WRITE ABOUT IT?"
And so the Odyssey was born.

The process began with a series of talks with my parents, almost like pitch meetings, where I had to convince my parents that my idea was worth them taking part in. Proposal letters, rough estimates on numbers, and a couple more proposal letters. A schedule of what I had to do should I get my trip approved (i.e. plan to get plane tickets, hotels, and game tickets) was among one of the last things to show off, and once it got approved, the real fun began.

The schedule came out mid-July, and planning for the trip came right afterwards. Plane flights were scheduled throughout August, followed shortly after by the booking of hotel rooms. Every team website was browsed again and again, looking for the dates on which single game tickets went on sale. Seating charts were browsed, ideal seats were marked; I was ready to buy tickets.

I remember buying the first road ticket. It was the game against the Panthers, and I called TicketMaster to buy a ticket for a San Joe-zay (that's how she pronounced it) Sharks game. Then came team after team after team. Some Saturdays I had to buy tickets for 3 or 4 teams. Getting tickets for Eastern cities meant making 7 o' clock a.m. phone calls, and 3 computers and people were necessary for purchasing tickets for the Canadian games.

As part of the planning process came a round of letters to local radio stations and the Sharks, as well as the NHL, explaining what I was doing, and asking for any possible help with publicity or anything else that would help me along my way as an aspiring amateur journalist. Right away I heard back from KFOG, the radio station that would soon have me on in a regular spot every Friday morning throughout the season (thanks go out again to KFOG for their generosity in giving me the ability to grow my on-air journalistic skills, and their patience while I gained experience throughout the year). Thanks also to, a website/message board dedicated to the Sharks. Mike, the editor, came to me in early November asking to put my blogs on his site, and now I have him and many of the normal Feederites who inhabit the message boards as friends.

Before I knew it, it was October, and time for the season, and the journey to begin.

I could look back at the Odyssey, and think the classic cliche, "what a long strange trip it's been". This trip really taught me a bunch of things; important lessons in responsibility pertaining to getting myself where I needed to be and by the time I needed to be there, and trivial lessons like walking very slowly on icy sidewalks. I can toot my own horn for knowing to go to the lobby upon hearing the pants-poopingly startling 4 o'clock a.m. fire alarm in Dallas, while it'd be nice to forget the time I slept through phone calls and more phone calls from a very unhappy Super Shuttle driver in Phoenix.

The Odyssey lasted eight months. I attended 111 games (93 Sharks games) (7 Stealth games, 2 Giants games, an Angels game, a Tigers game, a Calgary Roughnecks game, an Arizona Cardinals game, a Nashville Sounds game, a Washington Wizards game, an Oilers game [vs the Kings}, a Kings game [vs the Ducks], and the NHL All-Star Game) in 20 cities; 90 plane flights taking off from 30 different airports spanning a total air mileage of 67,408 miles; 88 nights spent in hotel rooms in foreign cities; and 77 cabs and 28 Super Shuttles taking me where I needed to go.

But mostly, the best part of this trip, as always seems to be the case with me, were the friends I made along the way. In every city I went to, I talked with hockey fans: fans of the home team or fans of the Sharks who had either relocated, or made the trip from home to see a game on the road; people sitting next to me at games, wondering what a kid from San Jose was doing in snowy St. Louis, or below-freezing Edmonton; people who heard my story through various mediums like message boards (my one act of selfishness and conceit), radio, the TV interview I conducted towards the end of the season (and again, Southwest, I'm sorry). Or just all of you, who either came to my blog on purpose or those of you who stumbled upon it by accident. Thank you for making contact with me either by email, by comment, in person, or just by reading my blog, from post to post.

The 2007 NHL Entry Draft has just concluded, and so I have some time to kill before the 2007/08 season commences. Since I'm not doing this trip again in the fall (at least not on my own money), it is time to take what I have learned and accomplished over the length of the 2006/07 season, and put it to use. I will be contacting teams from various levels of professional hockey to inquire about the availability of jobs and their requirements as far as additional schooling goes.

As mentioned above, I won't be doing this trip again in the fall (good news for both my wallet, and my sanity). I still share season tickets with my parents, so I will still roam the Tank for what I hope will be all 41 regular season games and many more post-season games than I have ever attended in one season. I'll still be in Section 213, Row 16, Seat 1, clapping up a storm, the only way I know how to do it. As I did this year, I will continue to take pictures of any home or road games I go to, and since I won't be having a rigorous travel schedule this year, I will try to focus on all things Sharks, on and off the ice.

Once again, thank you to all who have been a part of this memorable journey. This will be a lasting memory for me, and I hope all of you get the chance to see at least one game on the road featuring your favorite team at least once in your lifetime. It really is a great experience getting to represent your team in cities foreign to fans from your town. I hope, both in person and on this here blog, that I have represented myself in a fashion that Sharks fans can be proud of (or at least not too embarrassed by).

GO SHARKS (Please give me October)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Update on the Odyssey

It's been almost a month since the Sharks season, and the Odyssey, ended. The crying is done, reflecting is still happening, and the plan for the future is upon us. All three of those attributes can be used to describe the ending of both of the season and and the Odyssey.

As those of you with the RSS reader have probably noticed, I've been adding a few posts, mainly with just pictures, over the past couple weeks. I'm proud to say, my site is now fully updated with all the pictures, and all it took was a full month after the season's end to do so. Please peruse the site, look at all the pictures, took all I did for you guys.

The final blog of reflection is a long time in the making, and a long time coming. Look for it in the next few days. Until then, enjoy the pictures.