In the Winter of 2011, I was a sophomore at Western Michigan.
I was dumb, mostly naive, and still getting over getting cheated on and dumped by a girl (this was and has been a recurring theme in my life, but I digress). In that, I looked to start my own Bronco blog.
Some place on the World-Wide Web that WMU fans could gather and hear me talk about Bronco athletics, while providing their own feedback. And in that, I found SB Nation.
So I did what any dumb kid would do: I put in a name and applied.
Turns out, I just registered a user name. Brown and Gold is who I would become. When inquiring further, the big heads running SBN denied me a blog, and turned me over to Matt Sussman. “Suss” told me he was the editor of a blog called Hustle Belt. He told me that while I was denied for now, I could write a few ditties on his site as a sort of “tryout” (his verbiage was better).
On March 12th, I took his advice and wrote my first FanPost. Over the following Summer, Suss would offer me a spot on the roster, and I never understood why. But my joy beat the ever-living shit out of my doubt, and I joined this blog to talk Bronco stuff to MAC fans.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Fast forward over six years later, and that dumb, naive kid is a dumb, naive adult. I’ve moved out of the dorms into apartment livin’. I went from meal plans to hot pockets. I traded schoolwork for real work. So yeah, not much has changed.
We’ve gone from “To The Jump” to “Five-Up”.
We’ve had 3 new managers to lead after Suss. I moved up from one of the original staffers to a Football/Hockey/WMU editor.
I’ve covered five conference championships in three separate sports. I’ve written about baseball!
But all good things must come to an end.
In those six years, I’ve had a lot of great memories. I’ve lived a lot of dreams. I always wanted to go to games for free. Through media credentials and this blog, that became a reality (and I got fed for it too!)
I grew up a Notre Dame fan. Through hockey, I got to cover games at a Notre Dame venue (Go Broncos, forever). I grew up watching ESPN wishing I could be an anchor on SportsCenter. I’m not nearly outgoing and charismatic enough for that, but I was on Outside The Lines. You take what you can get, and through this blog, I believe the Lord has given me plenty.
But through those good times, the joy of covering these games have waned. When I first started going, I was a student, and it was great to cover my school. As I graduated and covered as an alumnus, that excitement dissipated. Going to football games alone every Fall weekend started to become a weight. Basketball and hockey games had to be planned, and eventually cut from the repertoire. I moved to Detroit and the coverage became more of a burden than a joy.
For regular journalists, it’s part of the job. For us here at the Belt? Well, we’re volunteers. We do this for the fun of it. When it stops being fun, well, that’s what brings us here.
I’m stepping down, effective today.
On top of losing the joy of writing, I’ve lost the joy of a lot of things. I have to find that joy once again, and writing is something I feel I must step away from in order to do that.
But before I go, I want to instill and enforce the good things about this blog in all of you.
I want to remind you that this blog is the BEST place on the face of this Earth for MAC news. It’s a place that has allowed me to cover a WMU CCHA Championship, three MAC Football Championships (including this season’s title game that saw my Broncos hold their first crown in my lifetime), this year’s MAC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Cleveland, and a Cotton Bowl.
All in person. All without paying a dime for a ticket.
You can do that. Are you an inspiring journalist? Hustle Belt has seen plenty of them. The three managing editors before Alan, our current Fearless Leader? Sussman now writes for Baseball Prospectus while having a day job in IT (which, we’ve indirectly done business with each other through my former employer).
Bryan M. Vance? He moved from South Carolina to Portland, Oregon when he moved from one journalistic job to another. He currently works with Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Alex Alvarado? He’s been a great friend and he’s covering Northeast Indiana sports while doing his own thing with baseball on the side. Former Belter Kaleb Carter moved from Ohio to Iowa to covers sports in the center of the cornland, and current assistant site manager James H. Jimenez moved from northern Michigan to northeast Alabama to pursue a career in journalism covering political and local art beats. It’s a solid resume builder.
Are you just a fan looking to have your voice heard? Well, as long as you aren’t a pretentious douchebag, the Belt is the perfect place for you.
You’re me six years ago, except you know where to go. Hustle Belt is always looking for writers, and if you have opinions, let them be heard!
Join the staff. Enjoy the experience. And I’ll be the first to tell you that the behind-the-scenes chatter between our writers is some of the zaniest nonsense you’ll ever read, and you’ll have a few good laughs along the way.
And I do mean you can write about just about anything.
I started the MAC Pick’em when there was (and still is) nothing else out there that tracks all of the MAC games. I wrote a cross-over piece between MAC football and the Legend of Zelda. We’ve covered gymnastics, baseball, volleyball, and soccer. We’ve even conducted fantasy drafts and tracked our progress on these pages on a week-to-week basis.
And there are plenty more sports left to write about.
I’ll still be around the site. Being a part of this community is a fun time, and I hope you all invite your friends to join me and the writers here.
Hustle Belt is like a drug, and you can’t quit it. Come football season, I’ll be back to talk smack to CMU and NIU fans. And who knows, maybe I’ll pull a Brett Favre and give it another go around.
For now, I just want to say one last RTB, Go Broncos, and Fight On.
See you around, nerds.