Here’s the thing, I never wanted to be a Mariners fan, it just happened. If I could go back and change my life and somehow not become a Mariners fan, I would. It would have saved me from a lot of heartache.
But, I am what I am.
For those of you who don’t know anything about the Mariners or baseball in general, we stink. I’m talking worst of the worst. We have the longest playoff draught of ANY team in professional sports. Not just baseball, ANY sport. It’s been 17 years since they last played in a playoff series. 17! The craziest part about it, the last time they did make the playoffs, they set an Major League Baseball record for most wins in a season. Let me say that again, the last time they made the playoffs, they set the record for most wins in a season… Most ever. And somehow, they can’t make the playoffs in any of the 17 years after? Something just doesn’t add up.
The hardest part about it all, is that every year I talk myself into believing that we are finally going to do it, we are going to make it, and each year I am left devastated and yet, somehow optimistic. Looking back, it is crazy to see some of the teams the Mariners fielded over the years. Some of these rosters are bad. Really bad. And I talked myself into believing every single one of those teams was going to be the one that did it. It is almost embarrassing sometimes to look back and see what I was optimistic about. In hindsight, it’s so easy to look at the Mariners rosters over the years, and say ‘well of course they were bad’, but when you truly care about something as much as I do, you don’t see things the same way others do. Love can be blind.
I want the Mariners to succeed more than I want a successful life, or a successful marriage. I NEED them to succeed. Something inside of me has to see them do well, and I hate myself for it. But there is also something so sweet about it. I urge you Mariners fans, only the ones who have been here all along, to keep going, and to never give up.
Here are a few tips for the true Mariners fan:
1. Keep Hoping
You have made it this far, giving up now would be a disservice to yourself. I know it’s hard, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. What doesn’t kill you truly does make you stronger. These difficult 17 years (and counting) aren’t going to kill you. They definitely are not always fun, but having hope in something is a beautiful thing. Hope keeps you going, it gives you something to look forward to. When hope is gone, there is nothing left.
2. The moment it all comes together will be worth it
Only a small few of us will be able to say that we stuck with it, we were with them through thick and thin. I’ve known many who have given up on the team. Not us. We stood strong and are still standing strong. When the day comes, and the Mariners end the draught, we will be standing there with tears in our eyes and joy in our hearts. And let me tell you, that moment will be so sweet. The joy we will feel will be worth all the pain we went through to get there. The relief we will have after persevering and never giving up will be hard to put into words. Regular people just won’t understand.
I’ll wait 17 more years. I’ll even wait until the end of my life. And if that day comes, and I am on my death bed, I will look back and be grateful that I was able to have hope in something. Even if it is just in a baseball team.
Montana, the Big Sky State, is home to some of the most beautiful photography spots in the world. Many of these underrated views are within an hour drive from Montana’s second largest city, Missoula. Here are a few of my favorite Missoula spots:
Mount Sentinel “M” Trail
This is probably the most iconic of Missoula views. The trailhead for the widely popular “M” Trail is right on campus, and a 30-minute hike will give you some of the best views possible of the valley.
2. Mount Jumbo
The Mount Jumbo hike is a bit longer than the “M” Trail, but certainly worth it for a lesser known lookout of the city.
3. Blue Mountain Recreation Area
Blue Mountain is a great area for a morning dog walk or a round of frisbee golf. This beautiful area is just a 10-minute drive from the city and has some amazing views of the South Hills.
4. Pattee Canyon
The Pattee Canyon road goes from the southeast corner of Missoula all the way to Bonner, Montana. Just be careful on the roads in winter.
5. “Top of the World”
“Top of the World” is the easiest of these spots to access. Simply drive all the way up Whitaker Drive and loop back down on Spanish Peaks Drive. Make sure to check out this view before the area is completely covered in real estate developments.
It’s not a secret that the University of Montana has found itself in quite a morale slump and fiscal crisis. When I was a freshman in Knowles Hall, I remember a time at UM where across campus the study lounges in the Residence Halls were being converted into temporary bedrooms because of a booming freshman class. Those days now seem like a distant memory with multiple floors of Aber Hall vacant, with only the emergency lights keeping the quiet hallways company. As much as I like UM, it’d be silly not to admit its shortcomings. Between scandals, a history of poor academic advising, a few unhelpful tenured professors, budget cuts, and a declining student population this slump shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
Despite UM’s recent struggles, I’m convinced that little chunks of hope, pride, and enthusiasm hide buried in our campus.
I was about nine years old when I got my first taste of Missoula and the University. Back in 2005 my family drove up from Great Falls to Missoula for the weekend so my Great-Uncle Bud could take me to my very first Griz football game. I watched the Griz play Cal Poly on October 22nd, kickoff was at 1:05 PM, and we beat them 36-27. I don’t remember the game, but I remember being totally blown away by the crowd and energy in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Selecting the right college wasn’t an active thought in my head then, but that day I subconsciously committed to becoming a Grizzly.
My hometown has the energy of an old industrial town that peaked in the eighties. I grew up on the old side of windy Great Falls. My middle school felt frozen in time with weight-room lifting records from the 1970s still clinging to the walls. My beloved Great Falls High pridefully hangs state championship banners from the fieldhouse ceiling that show how dominant Great Falls was during the 30s, 70s, 80s, but there aren’t many additions since. The town’s economy relies on an Airforce base, an oil refinery, and hospitals due to former residents moving back to retire and die. Great Falls is still riding the high of when Lewis and Clark made an appearance in 1805 and had to port the waterfalls. Needless to say, the excitement and energy of Missoula grew on me.
When I’m on campus I still feel that part of my nine year old self that’s thrilled to be here. I love the opportunities UM created for me. Maybe I’m just glad to not be in Great Falls, but I think it’s something more.I still get excited about having Mount Sentinel as a backyard. I get excited when I see an orientation leader walking around campus backwards. I get excited when I hear about student involvement on campus.I get excited seeing our new handsome President rally hope into people. I’ve worked as a Resident Assistant, I’ve helped submit a KRELF grant, I can actually get excited about going to classes, I’m a captain of the men’s ultimate frisbee team, I accidentally became president of the Judo club, I currently work for UM Housing at the Lewis and Clark Village, and I still get excited about it.
I know not everyone gets dealt the same opportunities, has had my experiences, or loves Missoula as much as I do but I can’t be alone. I imagine that there has to be people like me all over campus, because I’m extraordinarily average. I know I’m not the only one who has made lifelong friends, memories, and found impactful experiences at UM. I understand why people get so critical of UM and I think of it as a sign of endearment. Though right now doesn’t appear to be UM’s peak, we’re all fighting for the same thing. We want UM to be the best version of itself.
I love UM, but I’ll let you know if I love it less after I start getting calls asking to donate.
The majority of people hear the job
title “basketball manager” and instantly think of a water boy who does laundry
but, it is way more than that. Student basketball managers are the back bone to
any successful program. They are the people who are first in the office and the
last to leave. They are the ones who show up to practice a whole hour before
anyone else. The people who strive to be a student basketball manager want only
one thing… and it is not the glamour but, it is to see the players and the team
“People look at managers and they think of guys getting balls and water. The reality is that the manager is managing the program. They’re putting in as many hours as anyone else, and they’re as valuable as anyone in the program because they’re the liaison between the student-athlete and the staff.” – Travis DeCuire (Montana Head Coach)
The real MVP’s in student managers come at the mid-major level. The level of college basketball where the talent and expectations are the same as those at the high major level. The manager staffs at the mid-major realms are quite a bit smaller because of school size and budget. The normal manager staffs at the high major level have an average of 8-12 managers and travel somewhere from 5-6 managers. Compared to the mid-major level, have staffs from 1-5 managers and travel 0-2 managers.
For most managers they are on complete staffs. Meaning, they have a coaching staff that completes each role. But for Montana the role of Director of Basketball Operations has fallen on a manager over the past 2 seasons.
For myself being a manager at the University of Montana it has been a HUGE advantage to be at the mid-major level in my college career. Over the past 5 years I have been behind the scenes for the Griz and mastering every trait that has come my way. I have been thrown some ridiculous tasks and tremendous responsibilities.
When I first came in to college
basketball, I had to send email after email to the former Director of
Basketball Operations for the Griz until I was given an opportunity to prove my
worth. I had to tryout at that year’s basketball summer camps as a camp coach. This
story has a twist to it that is very common in college athletics, a coaching
change. The summer I was auditioning to become a manager for Montana the entire
staff left for Oregon State and a new staff came in. With the unknown of whether
or not I would still have the same opportunity or not I introduced myself as if
I was going to be a part of the team.
Entering season number one and not knowing what to expect from being a student manager and still not knowing what will be expected of me I took all tasks to the best of my ability. Being under a tremendous Head Manager, Kramer Ungaretti, and learning under him and the new staff that was more technology driven than the last. It led me to wanting to pursue a job in basketball front office. I would spend the next 2 years being a student manger and have the tasks of; assisting in creating graphics for recruits, updating recruiting records, setting up practice, assisting in practice, film setup, managing and clipping film, assisting ordering team meals, sending weekly mailouts, and yes, I also was getting water while wiping up sweat from the floor. These tasks helped me form into taking over the head manager position once Ungaretti graduated.
Year three ended up being the year of the most growth. I stepped into the role of Head Manager and brought on more responsibilities. I moved into my own desk into the coach’s offices, where I shared with an assistant coach. I was in the office, FINALLY! In a way for a young professional to be given their own space in a work place that they have always dreamed of working, gave me a peace of mind. I wanted to prove myself and prove that I can fill the shoes of my predecessor and not let the team feel like they took a step backwards. My advice to current and potential managers is to “strive to be the first one in and the last one out” as this has helped me excel in ranks. My family has taught hard work and they believe you have to start from the ground up to really know the industry. The year of being a head manager I was fortunate enough to be able to travel with the team and see what it takes for a mid-major team to travel on a more minimal budget. Traveling with the team has taken me to some remarkable areas. Areas like Costa Rica, the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, and across the United States. For this year I was still doing all the same tasks as I was before but was granted more advanced tasks. I was in charge of all meals on the road and assisted the Ops with anything else that was needed for travel. I was also the head of Team Communication, was in constant communication with the entire team on upcoming events, travel, academic meetings and community outreach programs. I continued to develop as a video coordinator and started making my own highlight films for the team.
I also spent hours in assisting the coaching staff with scouts and other projects. One skill that a majority of managers overlook is the use of Photoshop. Photoshop is a skill that can put you over the top as a manager. Having the capability of making graphics and other informative tools will separate you and make you more widely used.
Jumping forward to my last two years of being a student basketball manager, I moved into the role of Director of Operations. Not holding the title as the teams Director of Operations but having the majority of the tasks. As the last two seasons I planned all of the team’s travel. Everything from booking flights, hotels, bus transportation, scheduling of away facilities, head coach recruiting travel and team meals. All while keeping track of the team’s budget. I also keep numerous statistics. I keep track of the teams plus/minus, shot charts, teams passing shot percentage, defense and offense efficiency, hustle chart, and the teams different lineups used in a game with how they performed.
For managers it is a very competitive environment and the managers that do not focus on the glam are those who are in it for a career. Managers take this job seriously. You will not find many individuals sprinting to wipe up sweat on the floor or running to give a head coach a board. You always need to be aware of what is going on as a manager and be on edge during every aspect. It is a thankless job. Managers develop skills in all aspects of the basketball world. They become masters at crafts that have nothing to do with basketball. As an Assistant Coach at Montana, Coach Flores, has said to me, “this job is 80% organization/hard work, 15% completing tasks, and 5% basketball”. Summer camps are the bread and butter for managers. They are typically asked to show off their leadership and at some schools run the entire camp. Being a camp counselor all the way to a camp director has taught me the most. The amount of planning and detail you need for a camp is quite extensive. It is a job that takes multiple people and multiple departments throughout the University to make it successful. Not to mention the leadership it takes to speak in front of hundreds of kids and get all their attention and instruct them to do something can be overwhelming for first timers and will take some time to fully develop. As I have mentioned many tasks above, there are so much more that a manager does to help aid the coaching staff and do not forget they are still full time students.
The 4 C’s of Being a Great College Basketball Manager:
Commitment, Communication, Consistency, Common Sense
* To the JOB
* To your TEAM
* To the SCHEDULE
* With your BOSSES
* With your COACHES
* With your TEAM
* With your fellow MANAGERS
* In your ACTIONS
* In your APPEARANCE
4. COMMON SENSE
* With the KEYS
* With the EQUIPMENT
* When TRAVELING
With being a part of a small staff and having full time responsibilities at such a young age for a program that is on the rise, I have gathered so much information that has set me up for a bright future. With a mid-major staff, the majority of them are guys who are from the DII ranks or high major teams, they offer a verity of connections for you to network with. With the specific staff at the University of Montana and the other coaches that have moved onto other programs their connections and experiences are impressive. There have been peaks and valleys to this whole process and I am eternally grateful for what the University of Montana, the Missoula community, current/past players, coaches, and Coach DeCuire have provided for me.
“It’s not an easy job to be successful with, and that’s why a lot of the better managers move on to high positions. Some of the best coaches were managers, because they realized that X’s and O’s aren’t always the biggest thing when it comes to managing basketball programs.” – Travis DeCuire
So instead of people looking for glamour, schools are looking for students who want to:
• Haul luggage onto buses and hotels in the late hours
• Fill and refill Powerade bottles
• Cut and edit film until
their eyes cross
• Chart hustle plays and
other obscure stats at games
• Work camps in the summer
• Sacrifice weekends and
holiday trips in exchange for practices
• Stand, just so far apart,
ball tucked under one arm, other arm on hip, towel over shoulder.
In other words, individuals who are willing to do just about whatever they are asked to do to make life easier for basketball players their own age. At the end of the road you will not want to replace it for anything else in the world. Best college job.
Quotes of Inspiration
“Don’t let the peaks and valleys get to you. Keep rolling.” – Chad Buchanan (Indiana Pacers GM)
“Rest at the end and not in the middle” – Mr. Fisk (Kobe Bryant’s English teacher)
“Inspire the people next to you, that is how you create greatness” – Kobe Bryant
I have been working in the front of the house of a restaurant for 11 years. (bartending and serving for those who are not familiar with the restaurant lingo) and I LOVE my job. It does not feel like work when I get to hangout with people who tell fascinating stories and (my favorite) mediocre dad jokes. Although my day is filled with positivity and people who bring a smile to my face, there are the few who test my patience. And let me tell you, all servers and bartenders have a few things in common. You have definitely starred in the wait staff’s “server nightmares” if you have done the following:
Finish your entire plate of food and then criticize every last bit of it. At this point, I have silently tallied up every single time I visited the table to make sure everything was running smoothly, only to come to the conclusion that you had more than enough opportunities to tell me about your dissatisfaction. Too many people try to get free things in this world. Just don’t do that.
Customer- (never having met this customer before) “Make me something good.”
Bartender – **Face palm.
Complain about the temperature of the restaurant/the volume of the music. Did someone’s mom forget to teach you to bring a jacket wherever you go? Servers are on their feet and walking more miles in one 5 hour shift, than most people will in a week. We cannot function properly if it is 80 degrees in the building. If we cannot function, we cannot serve you, you will starve. End of story. (Studies show people eat less when they are hot. If you have a problem with that, take it up with the owner.)
“I know the owner.” Yeah… you and everyone else. If you think that taking a class 20 years ago
with the guy who writes my paycheck is going to get you a free drink, think
again. He can fire me.
Order a drink but ask your bartender to present it in a different glass than the norm. If you are not comfortable enough with your sexuality to drink rose out of a wine glass or a lemon drop out of a sugared martini glass then let me give you a quick tip, order a beer like a real man and drink it out of the tough guy, pint glass it comes in.
Sitting at the ONLY dirty table when there are clean, fully set tables in every direction around you. For the love of God, just don’t do this.
It’s not a Cuba Libre, it’s a Rum and Coke. I don’t know who came up with the pet names for drinks but let’s skip that step and just call a vodka cranberry with a lime a “Vodka cranberry with a lime.” Not a Cape Cod. **Insert dramatic eye roll
Two words. Hot. Tea. Its not your fault if you like this
tasteless drink, just know that as your server is juggling the lemons, honey,
spoon, extra piping hot water, assortment of tea flavors, sweetener and hatred,
they have probably started fantasizing your funeral.
Above all else…
Treat your server like a human who has feelings. Waiters and waitresses don’t just talk to hear themselves talk. When approaching a table and asking the question, “Good morning everyone, how are you doing?” THE. MOST. Disrespectful (and far too common) answer any server will cringe over is “Coffee with cream.” (at this point I’m assuming you are going to be bitter and unenjoyable the entire visit. Just like coffee is to me)
This should go without saying, but any snapping, whistling, aggressive waving motions, clapping, unnecessary interrupting, or calls from across the bar or restaurant should just be illegal. We are servers, not servants. When this behavior arises, we are more inclined to walk the other direction than to tend politely to your needs. If your waitress walks up to the table with a smile after you have whistled or snapped at her, she has perfected the poker face, that smile was not genuine.