Nine years. This is how many years I have been writing or spending time with football in a forum capacity (it started on MySpace.) I love it and don't really want to ever cast it off, but that said, I have to step away from Field Gulls for an unknown amount of time.
After last year drew to a close, it caused me to reflect, and I wrote a chronological piece talking about what I went through as a fan for eleven seasons. At that time, I was still committed to working here in a full capacity and was just looking for some time to get centered after that last play. Another part of me was growing however; I loved making different forms of media and wanted to launch a flashback series using clips from games. When the copyright gymnastics proved too strenuous I just put the idea aside. I tried several project ideas and articles even during the season last year that will never see the light of day. All told, I was spending 70 hours a week during most of the season and some offseason consumed by football and looking for new ways to spend time with it.
An itch started to hit me. April 15th 2015, my brain woke me with an idea something that had been sitting in the back of my mind for five years but I never really imagined I could pursue it. I didn't know how, or even if I could. Until I thought back to May of 2011 when Danny Kelly first emailed me about contributing here.
When Danny came to me after I posted some historical pieces and thought they were good, I was terrified. It was like finding out you were belting out the notes to [Insert well known pop song] with headphones on and suddenly realize 'Oh s&^%" they can hear me.' I was so scared by this idea, I wanted to ignore his email. It wasn't even that complex. He just said: "Hey, you keep writing those fanposts and I'll keep front paging them."
This would begin a few emails back and forth, chains of them as Danny brought me into the fold. A move for which I cannot be more thankful, nor express how important it was for me as a person. I had a deep rooted fear of failure, and my biggest challenge in those early days was not saying "No" and panicking based on irrational self imposed pressure and fear.
A big reason I didn't was because of Danny's emails. They always had little things of encouragement even if he didn't know I needed them. I'm telling you, I was so afraid of being horrible, that an exclamation point was confidence booster. Over the years, those emails which can sometimes add up to 10 back and forth exchanges have become one of my favorite things about doing this job.
There have been countless times where I got frustrated with an article and emailed Danny. "Danny, would you take a look at this, I think it's crap, but I think the premise is good." It was something to behold when he would email back with a complete grasp of the content. It was like having someone who could crack the code. Lord knows how many more things would have never been posted without his efforts as the editor here, just from myself alone.
As I gained confidence in the community I bit the bullet at the end of 2012 and committed to a full time schedule with This Week in Defense. A decision that I have never for a second regretted (except when dealing with losses.) This community has allowed me most of all to accomplish my goal for those pieces back when I started writing them on a forum in 2007. I got to teach and learn about football while taking the conversation about it away from the "That guy sucks!" to the slightly more nuanced "This is why that guy sucks."
Emails, tweets, comments here. They all prove this idea had legs and the community interest and the comments with well rounded knowledge have been the driving force that kept me increasing my presence here. I thank you, the community, most of all because you have been just as supportive in all the things I have tried to do.
So why am I posting this article saying I am stepping away? Well, I want to pursue a dream and I finally reached that state of fearlessness. It's because I love this community. Too many times, people post things like, "You changed." or "I'm spending too much time here, with nothing to show for it." They're always sad posts about struggle. It always bums me out.
I said earlier that back in April I had a dream and I just wasn't sure where to go with it. There was always this passing fancy about 'what if' but it never went further than that until, in the throws of saying "Oh come on, you can't do this, you don't know how." My brain responded moments later with "That's just an excuse." My mind flooded me with my memories here and the self confidence I had gained.
April 15th, I said 'Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!' I started a project and I've been pursuing it full time ever since. All because of what I was able to gain from here, in this community, surrounded by your kindness. The twist is that this means I have to be fully dedicated to my project with my time and back in July, I realized I may not have the time to do TWID on a regular basis, as it runs me 20-30 hours at the front of every week. I talked to Danny about it and gracious as ever, he said I could post whenever I had the time.
I want to do that as time allows, but I also wanted to be fair and give you guys a proper warning first. I don't want to just disappear like some do, especially since so many of you have been so instrumental in helping me discover a stronger spirit that no longer freaks out over an email with one line of text that says 'keep doing that thing, because it's good.'
You have no idea the resolve you allowed me to discover, nor the self-worth, nor the confidence you helped me gain by allowing me to write for you. I love you all. This isn't goodbye, never.
One last thing, if you ever find yourself with a chance to do something, but you're afraid of failing, all I ask is don't say "no." You don't have to say yes and commit yourself 1000%. Just start simple, don't say no. I see so many people struggle because they see a yes as daunting and a promise they might break. So, if you can't say yes at first, don't say no. You never know how important that simple act might be.
With all my passion for football,
Writer of TWID Seahawks fan. Loyal 12. FieldGulls community member.