Here We Are, One Year Later
I don't remember the exact day. It was a Friday, I think, in May of 2012. That one day, less than 15 months ago, changed a lot of lives.
That was the day an idea was no longer allowed to be just an idea. Words, budgets, proposals, leaps of faith ... that was the day they all had to now become more than characters on screens and paper. They had to become something great. Something unlike anything I or anyone in East Texas had ever seen.
That was the day "the website" was born.
East Texas Sports Network, or ETSN, didn't even have a name on that Friday in May of 2012.
It was referred to as "the website" for the next several weeks until one night, almost asleep in bed, I sprang awake and sent a text message to my new co-workers -- the names you recognize most -- Clint Buckley, Gabe Brooks and Chris Vinn:
"ETSN. East Texas Sports Network."
Here we are, our first birthday. Three hundred and sixty-five days of existence. Eight thousand seven hundred and sixty hours, about 8,712 of which Clint, Gabe and Chris have been awake making sure ETSN.fm was maintaining the standard we set at the beginning -- many days even before that Friday in May -- a standard of "eatin' greedy."
"Eatin' greedy" is a popular term among many of the athletes we cover. Inspired by Denver Broncos star linebacker Von Miller, "eatin' greedy" is a mindset he plays with: Never give up. Take it all. Every down.
"On the field, that’s how we feel. Whenever we get a chance, we’re going to take it all. We eat with both hands, elbows on the table, big steaks, lobster bisque ..." Miller once said.
We've spent the last year at ETSN.fm working much like a linebacker. See everything in front of you, work together with those around you and take on every opportunity that comes your way so you can make your presence known and be the best.
And over the past 365 days, we've made a lot of friends. We have taken on an enormous 128-school coverage area with four employees and a network of freelancers.
Needless to say, this last year has been quite the ride. We've been campaign managers more than anything, working hours on end just so one or two people in Small Town or Big City, Texas, will know what "ETSN" is. And then explain why we have a ".fm" in our web address instead of ".com."
We've called coaches whose first response has been, "Who are you with again?" We've been denied credentials by the UIL because they had never heard of us before. We've been kicked out of press boxes because we were "just a website."
Over time, folks started getting used to us. We've also seen some cool stuff.
We watched White Oak reach its fourth straight state volleyball tournament. A few months later we watched the White Oak boys basketball team win its second straight title.
Last December, we watched East Texas go winless in state championship football games for the first time in 12 years (though, we don't expect that to happen again this year).
In March, we watched Martin's Mill launch an incredible fourth-quarter comeback to beat Smyer for the girls state basketball crown after three straight years of denial.
This spring we watched 100 of the top football recruits in East Texas converge on APEC in Tyler for the first-ever ETSN.fm Football Recruiting Combine. We saw sub 4.4 40s, tons of weight being thrown around and an epic linemen battle.
Oh, for the record: We can't wait to do it again.
In June watched two East Texas teams in Lufkin Hudson and Mineola play each other in the Class 3A state softball championship, when Mineola almost pulled off a comeback of the ages in the last inning.
We watched four area baseball teams go to state, and Carlisle come home with the ultimate trophy.
Now, a year after we claimed our little corner of the Internet, we like to think a lot of you know who we are. But that just means for our second full year our goal is to be bigger, faster and better. We're going to continue working as hard as possible to cover high school sports better than anyone else in East Texas.
We're going to bring you a wider range of storytelling. Over the next few weeks, we're going to have some new stuff to play with. We're going to have a mobile-friendly website for easier use. And we're going to launch message boards, too, to increase your level of interaction with us and other readers of ETSN.
A lot of people took a chance on ETSN.fm that Friday in May of 2012. Townsquare Media gave us the chance to turn an idea into something great. Clint Buckley, Gabe Brooks and Chris Vinn took a chance to leave established careers to work on something brand new that at the time, was still an idea in the process of transformation. And now a year later, these three have made ETSN.fm what it is today.
But most of all, you gave us a chance. To you athletes, parents, coaches and fans, thanks for giving us the chance to bring you a place like ETSN. More than anything, we consider you our friends.
Consider the candle blown out. Now let's do this again.
-Chase, Clint, Gabe and Chris.