On Tuesday November 5, the Sharks Organization dedicated an evening to passionate teenage sports journalists. I, along with six other high school students, was given the opportunity to go behind the scenes and cover the Sharks vs. Buffalo Sabres game as a real journalist.
Two hours before game time, the seven of us arrived at the South entrance to SAP Pavilion, all dressed in business casual attire. Led by Sharks fan developer Caitlynn Steinberg, our journey began with dinner in the media room.
After finishing up a delicious meal of roast beef, we walked through the Sharks’ office over to a meeting room where we met with the sports writer David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News.
Pollak talked with us for 30 minutes about everything having to do with sports journalism, from what it’s like to “chase a team across the country,” to withholding information to protect players, to the frantic rush to get an article online as fast as possible.
“I have to file a story right at the [final] buzzer,” Pollak said. “So if it’s a one goal game–if it goes to a shootout–it’s a nightmare for me cause you don’t know where the story is going.”
Pollak loves the excitement of it all, however, and is quite content with his job of covering the Sharks throughout the entire season.
After talking with Pollak, we got the chance to interview the General Manager of the Sharks Organization, Doug Wilson. This was a dream come true. Wilson sat down with us for an entire 25 minutes and answered every single question we had–ignoring three phone calls throughout the interview so we’d have his complete attention.
Wilson is one of the nicest and most well-spoken individuals I’ve ever met. As he headed out, he turned around thanked us for our time and added, “The only thing I ask is that in the future you give back and help other people….the greatest gift you can ever give anybody is your time. If someone gives you your time, be very grateful for it.”
Following the interview with Wilson, we got a tour of SAP Pavilion and then walked up four flights of stairs to the press deck. From there, we had a bird-eyes view the game.
The Sharks started off strong and controlled the first period. After 20 minutes, they led 1 to 0.
During the first intermission, I walked over to the main press area to get a hotdog. As I was reaching for the ketchup, I saw Sharks broadcaster Drew Remenda walking back towards his booth. I quickly turned around and waved.
Remenda saw me, smiled, and walked over to chat. I couldn’t believe my luck, there I was chatting with the guy who I listened to on TV for every Sharks game. Remenda only cut off our conversation after his assistant told him a second time that he had to be on the air. After saying goodbye, I walked back to our table to watch the second period.
The Sharks’ second period wasn’t as strong. They played with energy and got shots in the net. However, two sloppy mistakes led to a couple of pucks in the back of the net.
During the second intermission, I walked back to the main press area with high hopes that I might run into another well-known Sharks’ media agent. Sure enough, as I waited in line for the restroom, the bathroom door opened up and out came the towering and smiling Bret Hedican. Hedican is one of the Sharks’ pre and post-game analysts and is a two-time US Olympian hockey player.
Hedican took the time to talk with me about being a broadcaster and working with the Sharks organization, before heading back to be on TV.
The Sharks unfortunately lost 5 to 4 in a shoot-out. For a game against the team with the lowest record in the NHL, the loss was a rough one for the Sharks.
“We can’t dwell on this game,” Rookie Matt Nieto said when we got to interview him after the game. “We’re looking to bounce back…after losses like that it’s tough but…the next day it’s a new day.”
Our evening ended after interviewing with Nieto, and I left feeling sad for the loss, but incredibly amazed and inspired that so many nice individuals from the Sharks Organization had given us their time.
Walking out of SAP Pavilion, Doug Wilson’s words echoed in my head.
“The only thing I ask is that in the future you give back and help other people…the greatest gift you can ever give anybody is your time. If someone gives you your time, be very grateful for it.”
I am very grateful.