The 4th of July is my second favorite holiday, let’s be honest, nothing can beat Christmas. Independence Day combines all of my favorite things in one day: grilling, tank tops and board shorts, ice cold beer, great company, and of course pride for one’s country. We have gone through some turbulent times as a nation the past couple of years, some very dark times if you will, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t come out of it stronger. That seems to be the bedrock of our foundation as a country. Through tough times we will grow stronger, and prevail. I believe that still holds true in 2018. There are too many great and amazing people in this country for us not to become better. Today is about reflecting and being grateful for the United States of America, but I also wanted to reflect on this great company, and the pride that I feel, this being our 1000th article!
As I sit here writing this, with some delicious American Bourbon on ice, and a cold Coors Light on layaway, I wanted to reflect on what Sports Al Dente has meant to me, and what better day than on Independence Day!
Sports Al Dente State Of The Union
Independence. What a strong and powerful word. The act or state being independent, self-ruling, self-determined, free of oppression.
Every single person has fought for or struggled for some kind of independence in their lives, whether it be the simplicity of turning 16 and saving up enough money to buy a run-down jalopy of a car so that you don’t have to rely on your parents for a ride, or maybe it’s going back to school after your kids are grown so that you can pursue that passion that is been burning inside you forever. Release it.
For me, it was the independence of doing what people said I could not do. After my freshman year of college, I paid my own way through to graduation (by paid I mean I acquired a huge amount of student loan debt that I will probably be paying off until its time to decide if my kids want to go to college or not). During my time at Long Beach State, I had no idea what the hell I wanted to do with my life. Business required to much finance and accounting. Communications was too broad. History was too niche.
So what did I do? I got a degree in Leisure Services. I guess that was the one degree that everyone told me I could never accomplish anything with, so I figured it was an opportunity to prove everyone wrong. So I did it. I graduated. And then I got the first job that I could find (outside of waiting tables) and hated it.
I knew I wanted a job in sports, but with absolutely no experience, no one would touch me. So I took a leap of faith, even against the advice of just about everyone I knew, and decided to become a freelance sports writer. What I didn’t take into account, was that even as a freelancer, you need some form of experience or portfolio before companies and publications will contract with you. Whoops, probably should have realized that before quitting my only source of income.
So then I came up with my next plan. I would get a job in the restaurant industry (I had plenty of experience in that), and that would give me the flexibility to write for whatever publication would take me, for however much they offered me. 95% of the gigs I took on, I did for free.
About a year into this “plan” I was growing tired of writing for other people. When I looked at the sports media landscape, people were doing things that I knew I could not only do differently but better.
I started to reach out to entrepreneurs, friends, family, anyone that would listen to my idea or anyone that had any advice for a startup. Here is the best advice that I can give: You can have the greatest idea in the world, but until you actually take action and do something about it, it’s just an idea. And I can tell you this, people get really sick and tired of hearing about your ideas, so take action and do it!
Birth Of A Nation
In April of 2016, I began building a website. Imagine being put in an empty field with a hammer, some nails, and a stack of plywood, and deciding to build a house. It’s exciting knowing that you are creating something with your own vision, but if you’re like me, you have no idea what the hell you are doing!
I had no knowledge of web design, and couldn’t tell you the difference between Java, HTML, or CSS. Youtube became my classroom. I spent hours watching videos on site creation, and little by little I was able to put together a decent looking website, with the help of a simple WordPress theme. I purchased a host and a domain name, and by July, Sports Al Dente was born.
For the first year, I was on my own. A few sports buddies of mine would add a few articles here and there, and it was awesome having my friends a part of something that was so important to me and see their handprint on something I had created.
A year into it, I knew that if I wanted to become successful, I would have to expand, not necessarily the site or the brand, but my workforce. To keep up with the shifting landscape and rapidly moving sports media profession, I would have to add like-minded people that would buy into my vision and push Sports Al Dente to new heights.
I began recruiting and telling anyone and everyone my plans for the site, trying to get people to see the potential that was there. Little by little my team grew. I began talking to people that were gifted in the things that I wasn’t. There is the old saying ‘knowledge is power.’ I agree with this sentiment, but I like to take it a step further. “Working with like-minded people with knowledge of different aspects is power.”
A college buddy of mine reached out to me cause he could see what I was creating. He happened to work in the world of web design. He could see the potential of our sports media website, but, like me, knew that the design of the site needed a drastic makeover. He offered to create an entirely new design, one that could separate us from the normal “newspaper” looking themes of most sports sites. Thus you have what you are looking at today.
As we are quickly approaching our two year anniversary, I think back to the reason why I am writing this (bourbon now gone, and onto the Coors Light). When I hit the publish button, this will be the 1000th article published on SportsAlDente.com! Quite an accomplishment if you ask me. This feat would not have come to fruition if not for all of the amazing people that have contributed.
As of today, over 100 people have had some sort of impact on our success. As our focus has shifted to the West Coast over the last few months, our drive, determination, and support have only grown stronger. We meet new fans every day, gain new supporters, and continue to build relationships. This summer, we have the honor of being a part of the credentialed NFL media at training camp. Something that I have fought for since day one, and something that we will continue to fight for, and gain, for all of our teams and sports divisions.
1000 articles in under 2 years. Maybe another thousand before next 4th of July. The sky is the limit, and my dedication will be unwavering. Will we break a major story next year? Perhaps. Can we land that groundbreaking interview that everyone will want to tune in for? Potentially.
Can we become the next Bleacher Report, The Athletic, or Barstool Sports? Absolutely not. They are not who WE are. We are Sports Al Dente. Independent from the rest. We will continue to fight for our independence in a sports media landscape that sees so much “sameness.”
Two years ago no one thought this was possible. I have worked hard to gain independence from doubt, from what people say you can and cannot do. “Your site won’t make it to 100 articles.” “There is no career in that profession outside of the juggernauts.” “Why would I listen to you, you have no credibility!” Never be dependent on what others tell you because that is oppression and you have the ability to break it. Find your vision and chase it!
Here is to the next 1000 articles, you’re not going to want to miss it!
Happy Independence Day to all, and thank you for your continued support and for reading.