Why hello again to all of our faithful Duke fans!
I am writing to you from Starbucks in New York City specifically, the third Starbucks on the block between 33rd and 34th Street alone. I swear if there wasn’t a Starbucks every 17 steps in this city I would be $168 dollars richer when I leave tomorrow. At least tonight I ventured out of my usual venti vanilla latte to a decaf white chocolate mocha, in the hopes of beginning a long process to slowing my caffeine addiction. (ABBY + 6 AM WORKOUTS NO STARBUCKS FIX = BAD NEWS FOR WHOEVER ENCOUNTERS ABBY THE REST OF THE DAY.)
Anyway, Starbucks included, New York City is unbelievable. Now what exactly is a born and raised Coloradan turned two year in the works Southern girl doing in the Big Apple? Aside from getting lost in the pouring rain in lower Manhattan, walking four miles in one heel and one walking boot because I didn’t quite calculate the distance from the restaurant to the hotel correctly, and in one train excursion forgetting my train ticket at the hotel and proceeding to leave my cell phone in the taxi I have actually been quite productive!
Since I played on the USA Basketball U21 National Team this summer and had the opportunity to travel to France and Russia, I was not able to begin the path to the “real world” as most incoming juniors and seniors do by participating in a summer internship.
Oh wait, sorry my mom is calling. One second... “Hi, Mom...Yes, yes I am OK...Yes I’m practicing the Three S’s: Smart, Savvy, and Safe...Yes my purse is in my line of vision...No I did not give my credit card to the homeless person who asked for money...Yes, everything has been great the past three minutes and 23 seconds since we talked last...OK I will call you when I make it across the crosswalk safely...Love you too.”
Sorry about that, my mom was a littler nervous about her “Little Pumpkin” making the trip to New York City by herself! (Editors note: All love, Mom!)
Moving on, I decided to squeeze a mini, multi-faceted internship into one week. To begin with, I had the opportunity of attending two New York Liberty games under the Madison Square Garden network. The first game I was in the truck with the production crew. It was eye-opening to see what happens behind the scenes. Who would have thought it can be such a big deal when the camera focuses one second too long on Wanisha Smith busting a three in someone’s face? I mean...umm...I’m not living in the past, Coach P, I promise! (That’s what I’m talking about, Nish! Get it girl!)
The next game I was on the floor with the commentators, Jason Horowitz and Mary Murphy. They are both so talented at what they do and it is incredible to me the work, knowledge, and quick thinking that goes into it.
Fast forward to that night and what I like to call, “Abby Waner’s Confused Wander/Hobble Through the Intimidating and Tad Bit Frightening Confines of Penn Station” night. (Note: For those of you who don’t know, the hobble refers to my foot that is currently in a walking boot nothing serious though!)
Picture the scene: Me standing at the bottom of the escalator with my overstuffed purse full of life’s necessities. These include my mom’s “Handy Dandy, Quick n Easy, 7,493 Page Guide to New York City’s Every Nook and Cranny”, my Sports Illustrated, Slam Magazine, ESPN the Magazine, and USA Today’s sports section (please don’t judge, I’m really not a dumb jock!).
Also, my make up bag (yep, I can be a girl!), my umbrella, and my receipt/gift card ridden wallet, and god knows what else is lying at the bottom. I had absolutely no idea where to go and felt like a modern version of Mary Poppins standing in the Subway Station. Whoever said that New Yorker’s are rude need to take a look at the other person. For instance, if I worked at a train station and had an ignorant, 20-year-old girl walk up to me and ask me where the Amtrak counter was only to be standing at the Amtrak counter, I would probably be rude to.
Many embarrassments later, I hobbled up the street with my train ticket in hand with not the slightest inclination that perhaps buying a return train ticket would also be necessary. I will let you ponder what happened there.
That next morning I went to Bristol, Conn., to the ESPN headquarters. Once I made it to the lobby, I was amazed at just how, well, ESPN-like it was. Now, this is the sort of lobby I wouldn’t mind waiting for, oh, say a doctor’s appointment with my pediatrician while surrounded by coughing, smelly children. Go ahead and laugh Yep, I’m almost 21 and still go to my pediatrician. Anyway, there were about six TV’s showing the various ESPN channels, and on the coffee table was ESPN the Magazine with all three different covers available to browse through.
The coordinating producer gave me a quick overview of the ESPN news room, made a few introductions, and there I was sitting in a group of desks with Jay Harris and Josh Elliott, the 6:00 PM SportsCenter anchors. If I just so happened to run into these two men on a street corner, I would never know they were two of the most recognizable faces in the world of sporting news.
Along with everyone else at ESPN, they were so genuine, humble, caring, and interesting I have never met a better group of people. (I promise, this is not a desperate plea of, “PLEASE HIRE ME IN TWO YEARS!” But on second thought...Really, I’ll do anything!!) Josh was in the midst of researching for his script that night but took the time to talk to me about basketball, school, and life. It was great hearing his experiences as a once college athlete turned SportsCenter anchor.
They were doing a filming of “Fact or Fiction” with Samuel L. Jackson that morning, and I was lucky enough to be able to watch. I even had the opportunity to meet and talk with Mr. Jackson, and never would have guessed he was a women’s basketball fan! But too bad he is a fan of that one team, with that one coach, with that one girl who can apparently dunk or something like that.
At lunch, Josh took me to the outdoor basketball courts where ESPN people play pickup. I felt like I walked straight into an ESPN commercial where someone would jump out saying, “Where would we be without sports?” There was a scoreboard nicer than most high schools, referees, coaches, and bleachers for spectators. We are talking about lunchtime pick up basketball here people. But then again, I was at ESPN headquarters fitting.
That night I was lucky enough to be one of eight people on the set of 6:00 PM SportsCenter. I couldn’t believe how relaxed Jay and Josh were. Obviously, they are professionals and very talented at what they do, everything comes so easy to them especially under the pressure of live television. I am always so impressed with the wit and humor SportsCenter anchors can employ along with clear, concise, and direct sports reports.
After the filming I went back up to the newsroom and was yet again in the right place at the right time and got to meet some of the best talent in the business. Cindy Brunson and Neil Everett were preparing for their later show, and Cindy took the time out to talk to me for about 20 minutes about her rise to the top. I feel so proud to be part of the generation in which women can participate on equal footing with males in all aspects of sports broadcasting and playing alike. Cindy is a great example of one of these women that not only survive but excel in the world of sports dominated by male counterparts.
All in all, I had a whirlwind of a day at the sports mecca with the likes of Stuart Scott, Michael Ervin, Bill Parcells, and Samuel L. Jackson meandering by as I sat at my desk in awe of the production of the worldwide leader in sports.
I am sorry to say that Starbucks is kicking the weird girl out who stops by three times a day with the magical purse that could probably hold a good sized dog inside of it. Take care and I hope to see EVERYONE at our games this season!
P.S. Gotta give my shout out to my team 6:00 AM weights commencing soon, get hyped! I will be in my room in the new apartment working on getting 153 push ups in a row if you guys need me. (HA!)