Fast forward about three and a half months. I was as busy as ever, as I had shifted to being a full-time copy editor at Bleacher Report. I was writing for PA Puck, had accepted a gig at The Hockey Writers and not to mention, I was still a Featured Columnist at B/R (and still am). However, I had managed to find time to take some time away from my grind and got my friend Kim tickets to go see the Pens and Bears play in Hershey. I knew she wanted to go back, and I also knew she had time off from school, so I figured the December date was the best game. Why not, right?
The night before the game, I told Scott about my plans, and he immediately told me I could come up at intermission and visit. We worked out the details over DM, and soon, I could hardly wait to not only give Kim the best night possible, but to also see someone I hadn’t seen in what felt like an eternity.
I wasn’t expecting a lot because game nights can be so crazy for everyone working them, especially the media. But when Scott came out to see me, he smiled and ran over for a hug. I love giving and getting hugs, so this made me pretty happy. We chatted for a few minutes, but I left to go back to my seat wanting more. I could’ve stayed up there all night had time allowed! But because such is life, it didn’t. Still, he made a point of texting me that night saying it was great to meet up, and I was pretty happy when I got to Kim’s house and saw that message. It brought a smile to my face and capped off an already awesome night (Pens won in a shootout).
A few days later, while leaving a WBS home game with Stacy, it occurred to me that I had to do something good to give back to Scott. I got the idea in my head to write him a letter saying thank you for not only supporting me in my career path, but for being an awesome friend.
I had doubts, though. I didn’t think I could pull something like this off. I was afraid of doing something wrong, however unintentionally, or that people would think it was a ridiculous idea. But after asking around, all of my friends supported it. I still had some anxiety, but I went ahead, ordered the stationery and drafted a letter on my computer, which I sent to two people who had offered to help look at it. I was going to do this because there was no way I could not do something for someone who had been so kind when I never asked it of him or expected it.
Hershey came back to town the first weekend in February, and Scott had agreed to meet with me before the game. He was aware I had something for him, but he wasn’t sure what.
Stacy was nice enough to pick me up early so I could get to the arena on time (Stacy, if you read this, I’m still grateful!). I got there a few minutes after six and headed over to the visiting broadcast area. It was now or never…
When he came out, we hugged and he asked what I had for him. I took the letter out of my purse and just told him that I had the letter because he had been so good to me and I wanted to say thank you. He told me I didn’t have to do that (he seemed genuinely surprised and touched, too), and that he would read it when things were a little less hectic. I was so proud of myself for getting over my nerves and just giving it to him! And I didn’t even cry like I thought I would.
The next day, I got back in touch to just say nice to see you and to express my disappointments for not being able to be in Hershey the next couple weeks. He shared the sentiment and told me the letter was kind, but that he didn’t think it was necessary.
So this was a long story, but I hope it helps you all understand why I appreciate Scott so much. He does so much for others that he doesn’t have to do at all, and he really cares about people. When someone wants to give back to him, he appreciates it and doesn’t expect things done for him. And furthermore, he’s done a lot of little things that have meant so much and given me good things to look back on when I reflect on this hockey season.
Plus, his career path inspired me to get back into the search for my own sports job. I had pretty much quit looking for a job with a team, believing that while I seemed appreciated at B/R and PA Puck, my dream was just a deluded fantasy. How many people dream of working in sports but never make it, right? I figured I could maybe keep the hockey writing as a hobby, but I should probably look for something else…something that wasn’t so much of a fantasy (that’s what it felt like to me) and would keep me sane.
But that changed when I read a story about Scott and how he got to where he was. And then I realized: Things didn’t go right for him the first time he tried something. He kept working and never gave up. And now look where he is. That was my lightbulb moment. My life wasn’t over just because I don’t have a job with a team at this point in time. It can still happen. Sure, there might be bad days, but everyone has those. And I can get through them, just like many people have in the past.
I should add that when I got the idea to write this letter to him and while I was working on it, it was January. I was in the middle of probably my worst slump at B/R, and it seemed to be never-ending. Only one article performed to the expectations of getting 1,000 reads. I was trying everything…the SEO tactics, the creative topics, the clean copy, publishing on time…and absolutely NOTHING was clicking. I was my wit’s end, and towards late January, I decided to take a good break from B/R. I didn’t publish again until the last day of the month.
As I wrote the letter and kept his story in the back of my mind, I was beginning to get more positive vibes (how do you not when giving something nice to someone deserving?), and that’s when I made up my mind: I was going to get out of this slump if it was the last thing I did. From that point on, I decided that while I wasn’t going to change my style or do anything drastic, I was going to work harder. I felt energized again. I wanted to do well not only for myself, but for someone who showed time and time again that he had my back.
I took my new attitude into February, and I can honestly say that so far, it’s paying off.
My B/R articles are performing better. Out of my last five articles, three have gotten 1,000 reads or more. I make attempts to engage in conversation with my readers. I want to look for every challenge I can. I find myself eager to accept assignments from my team leader and not just try to ignore the e-mails.
I got an assignment for this week that I didn’t understand initially. The miserable, struggling me would have read that e-mail, gotten annoyed that I drew a bad straw and just brushed it off. But the more confident me asked my team leader to clarify the assignment, and I told him I would deliver. When I see my stats getting better and the fact that I’m creeping closer to being a Featured Columnist II (!!) on B/R, I can’t believe that this time last month, I was going to throw in the towel.
It’s amazing how one person, who has only become a bigger part of my life in about two months, has changed that all for me. It’s even crazier to think that two years ago, Scott was just another member of the Penguins that I thought I’d only see to have small talk with or ask for an autograph or picture from. I seriously never dreamed that he would have an impact on me or that I could thank him for altering the way I looked at my goals and myself.
But I can. And that’s what makes him my hockey hero.
For those of you that are hockey fans (and those of you that aren’t, but that’s OK…I can convert!), you may have noticed that this weekend was USA Hockey’s Hockey Wekeend Across America. Today marked Celebrate Your Local Hockey Heroes Day.
Now, while this day is primarily designed to honor those who have contributed to the game on grassroots levels, I define my hockey hero a little differently. He’s someone who has been an inspiration to me as I try to make my dream of working in hockey come true. He knows my goals and supports them, and in the last couple of months, he’s gone from being someone I can turn to for career advice into a good friend. Of course, he’s still the first thing to me, but the second part is what’s really given him a place in my heart.
And oh, you didn’t know this until now, but he’s the one who was the recipient of a certain letter a couple of weeks ago.
If you’re a WBS Penguins fan, you know his name. The person I am talking about is current Hershey Bears play-by-play announcer Scott Stuccio.
So why Scott?
Well, it’s pretty simple to me. Last summer, I contacted him looking for some career advice about breaking into hockey, telling him about my writing. I went on WAY too long I’m sure and probably said some things one isn’t supposed to in an e-mail of such a nature (nothing really personal or anything, but I’m still young and stupid in some ways.). I didn’t get a response initially, so I shrugged, figured he was busy anyway and moved on with my days. Not a big deal.
A few days later, I got a little bit of a surprise in my Twitter DM inbox. I, along with the rest of the WBS Pens fanbase, had found out that he had taken the PxP job in Hershey. Then I knew I probably shouldn’t expect a response to my e-mail, so again, I wasn’t expecting anything. I never did to begin with.
But in my DM’s, there was another message from Scott. We had been going back and forth already about a problem I was having with the Pens team store, but he changed the course to thank me for supporting him and understanding what a tough job he had trying to fill Tom Grace’s shoes. Then, one of his next messages, he told me that he thought I was a good writer and that he’d be there for me if I needed help, and he said he loved helping people and to teach.
SOMEONE FROM THE PENGUINS LIKED MY WORK.
That was a pretty big deal.
But more than that, it was the fact that someone who was so busy and now going through a signifcant life change was willing to help me. I never demanded that. Did I hope he would help me? Sure. But was it expected from me? No.
Part II coming up…
Well…the good news is that my stepdad is committed to helping me learn to drive. I’m serious about it this time too, so I should finally be able to get it done and get some independence.
The bad news? I won’t be able to take my test until September or October.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand that I need time to learn and need to be patient, and all that. It is best to go in prepared after all.
I’m just a little upset because this messes up my plan to maybe visit one of my friends this summer, and since I can’t go to him and I don’t know if he can come to me, I can’t imagine going a whole summer without seeing him and waiting till next hockey season.
It’s not that we made any plans already and I have to cancel them. It’s just disappointing. I swear, I can’t win.
I miss my friend a lot right now. I really wanted to be able to see him today, but it just didn’t work out because I need the money for Pittsburgh and Philly. Although I know it’ll be good for me to have the money for my trip, I still would’ve liked to go see him.
I think I’m going to ask him if I can have his e-mail this week in case I ever want to talk. It’s just that April seems like WAY too far away.
Or maybe I’m just emotional because I’m PMS-ing.
Who really knows?
Apparently, I was fascinated by this video when I was a baby. Thanks for telling me, Mom!
This choked me up.
I wouldn’t call myself a big Whitney Houston fan, but I always did like this song.
I must say I commend Bryan Lerg for donating his hair to charity. Mad props.
However, I’m really happy he finally cut it all!