Lockouts and Rain Delays

In the eyes of a hopeless romantic, die-hard hockey fan, who has experienced both the staff and fan sides of hockey and baseball, I can say whole heartedly that the impending NHL lockout is comparable to the inevitable rain delay in baseball.

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The sky is looking bleak as staff members and fans arrive at the stadium.  The sun is hidden behind a massive, dark cloud and there is rumor of precipitation in the surrounding areas.  Seeing this sight, everyone is pretty sure there will be a rain delay called.  On one hand, no one wants to get his heart set on spending nine innings at the ball park while on the other hand, there’s that off chance that the storm might change directions just in time to save the game.

Aware of the uncertain weather conditions, the athletes, coaches, and staff working the game still have to prepare for the night with the mindset that there will be a game.  Batting practice, pre-game meetings, and the whole pre-game show must run as if there is not a cloud in the sky, even though subconsciously, everyone is arranging plans for their potentially free night, feeling that the hours going through the routine are a complete waste of time because ten minutes before first pitch, the game will be called.  

While down on the concourse (and for the very faithful, still in their seats, covered in ponchos and holding umbrellas), the fans are chowing down on overpriced hot dogs and popcorn, patiently waiting for a glimmer of hope from the staff about the start time of the game.  The fans ask around, over exaggerating any speculation that may be made about the game’s outcome, everyone has an opinion and those opinions become a reliable source of information.  The fans just want to know the truth, they want to know what everyone behind the scenes already knows or think they know.  After all, these fans have invested their hard earned money, minimal free time, and emotions into this game.  They wait in anticipation for the storms to dissipate so they will get what they came for, the game, and not be let down by its cancellation.

Equivalent to any other “scandal,” “accusation,” or “developing story,” no one really knows what’s going on with the lockout.  Various sources provide a variety of opinions, each opinion varying day-to-day, but no one can truly pinpoint what is happening behind the scenes unless one is able to spend every waking minute until September 15 in one giant room with Gary Bettman, the owners, and the NHLPA.

Just like the rain delay, the owners, players, and staff are already making plans for their potentially “free” hockey season.  Contracts are still being honored and players still have the peace of mind of belonging to a team.  Sure the league will suffer in a loss of fans and a year’s worth of revenue, but the only ones left worrying about the outcome of their emotional, mental, and financial investments are the only ones that make the NHL possible to begin with – the fans.  

Without hockey fans, there would be no NHL.

-AS

The ice has melted, this chapter of my life has closed

Thank you to the Knoxville Ice Bears staff, fans, and players for a truly unforgettable season.  When I began my internship in October, I was excited to experience my favorite sport from behind-the-scenes, but knew it would soon be over with the beginning of winter break and a new semester.  I honestly did not think I would have the opportunity to relocate to Knoxville and complete the season with the rest of the staff and team but am so grateful for God’s provision in all of it.

I can hardly believe that the ice has been melted for a week and I just saw this semester’s intern group for the last time today at lunch.  

I am overwhelmed with gratitude and may have shed a tear or two when we were eliminated in round two of the playoffs.  Sure I would have loved to say that I worked for the 2012 SPHL champions but more than anything I was sad because I wasn’t ready for the season to be over.  

I spent three months preparing for and getting excited to start the internship and six months interning just for it all to end in a matter of three periods.  

The most heartbreaking thing about working for a sports team is that you know that before long, the season will be over.

Throughout the course of six months, I became more proficient in Final Cut Pro, more confident and comfortable in front of the camera, and met some of the most fun people I’ve ever met in my life.

Sure I loved interviewing staff members and players before and during games, the Ice Bears provided me with an opportunity no other internship could offer, but days in the office, cutting highlights, doing chuck-a-pucks, and talking hockey with the staff were some of my most fond memories.

To the Ice Bears Staff:  Thank you for putting up with my moodswings, Brooks Laich obsession, and Ambrosia alter-ego.  Haha but seriously… thank you for showing me all of the work that goes into running an organization and challenging me daily.

To the Ice Bears Interns:  Thank you for your influence in my life this season.  I enjoyed being surrounded by other talented, driven students.  I wish the best for you all in your future endeavors.

To the Ice Bears Fans:  Thank you for all of your encouragement throughout this season.  There were may have been days I was having a hard time adjusting to life outside of my family and college, but the thoughtful messages and tweets made my day.  You guys are the best!  Keep me updated on everything that goes on next season!

To the Ice Bears Players:  I know that none of you will read this, but if I had to say anything to you it would be… thanks for the laughs.  Especially Wieds and Fordy.  I have never laughed so hard doing an interview minutes after getting my heart broken.  Thank you for being so cooperative during interviews and playing some of the best hockey I’ve ever witnessed in person.  I wish the best for each of you in your hockey careers.

For the last time, this is Amber Sersen at Ice Level… Jon, back to you.

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-AS

You can’t start your car if…

You forgot to put it in park before taking the key out of the ignition before you went grocery shopping only to mindlessly unload your groceries, routinely stick your key in the ignition expecting an easy turnover to soon be on your way when nothing happens.  Automatically assuming it was a battery issue.  But since you are in a city where you know nobody and although you can be the most outgoing and talkative person in front of a camera or in a room full of people with a common interest, you awkwardly walk around the parking lot then decide to sit in your car for twenty minutes to wait for God to send someone to you who knows how to jump a car and is ecstatic to help you because they’ve been sent on a mission by God.  After a couple of feverish faith-like-a-child mountain-moving -size-of-a-mustard-seed faithful prayers, you happen to look down and see that your car was still in DRIVE.

Today I had a job interview, went to the gym, and grocery shopping all before noon.  Oh and let’s add I experienced the most embarrassing palm to the face moment of my twenty-one years of existence.

Four months ago if this situation would have happened to me, I probably would have started bawling, kicking the car, and freaking out over not knowing how to jump a car.  But today, grown up me decided the car not starting was due to one of three possibilities.

1.  There was some kind of divine appointment and I was supposed to meet someone/make their day/be impacted by their story/etc.

2.  I needed to be firmer in my faith and if I prayed hard enough and genuinely enough, God would supernaturally turn my car on.

3.  This was a challenge to drop my pride, ask for help, and be more outgoing.

Well I was wrong.  In every possibility.  

For the past forty-five minutes, I’ve been trying to come up with some deep spiritual meaning behind the occurrence of this embarrassment.  But that’s not the kind of person I am.  I’m a very practical, realistic, take everything at face value kind of person.

Through all of this, I think God just wanted me to laugh.  Everything I have experienced since January 7th has been a lesson in trust.  I have matured in that I know all of my needs and worries will be taken care of and there’s no reason to fuss and argue over every miniscule thing that doesn’t go my way.  The metaphorical referenced-too-many-times load of constant fear and anxiety has been lifted off of my shoulders.

 

Today, through my failure, I’ve been reminded of God’s incredible sense of humor.

 

-AS

Grounded

Before college, before sports, before big dreams of becoming a reporter for a major sports network, there was a little girl who loved visiting her grandparents on their farm in Dornsife, Pennsylvania.

Every summer, Thanksgiving, and Christmas up until I was about fifteen was spent at that house.  Some of my earliest memories were of Pop Pop and I digging in the dirt, dragging my Grandmom down to the creek for hours to swim and catch minnows, and running around the farm.  I miss the massive front porch we used to sit on after dinner and eat our ice cream on.  I miss stained fingers from picking blackberries.  I miss the cow I named (Bebe).  I miss the pig my Pop Pop named after me (I shouldn’t be offended, should I?).  I miss the unpolluted, crisp, summer air of the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania.  I even miss going into the stinky chicken coop and collecting the eggs.

Today, I got to relive a part of my childhood!  Granted I wasn’t in Pennsylvania or with my grandparents, and it most definitely isn’t the summer, I had a chance to remember how much I love the simplicity and freedom of the outdoors.

After a productive day of meetings, interviews, and editing game highlights (aka what I live for and expect to be doing the rest of my life), I was able to escape to the farm.

I, Amber Sersen, the girl who takes two hours to get ready before a broadcast, who has been playing in make up since second grade, and enjoys a girly day of shopping, chick flicks, and chocolate bingeing every now and then traded in my dress pants, blouse, cardigan, and shiny flats for jeans, a t shirt, and some Sperry’s relaxed by… collecting chicken’s eggs.

But egg collecting was just the beginning!  I was then invited to explore the rest of the farm!  The seven year old carefree girl I used to be may have had a freak out.  I got to join in on feeding some of the horses.

And I even got to meet this pretty little girl!

Then I got chased off by next Thanksgiving’s main course…

And I’m thankful that the pig that was named after me was at least cuter than Pumba here…

Today was the perfect balance of the woman I am becoming and aspire to be and the little girl that I wish I could be again.  At the end of the day, no matter where I am, no matter how great or small my status, I hope I always stay grounded.

I hope everyone has a memory or place to run away to to escape reality every once in a while.  Even if you’ve had the best day at work, it’s always nice to remember the little things that used to put a smile on your face.

-AS

A word to the wise

If you need frequent affirmation in response to your performance, don’t choose sports broadcasting as a career.

If you need money, don’t choose sports broadcasting as a career.

If you want to feel like devoting a good part of your young adult years to slaving away for free in internships is going to be worth it, don’t choose sports broadcasting as a career.

If you don’t want to wake up and go to bed wondering every night if you are mentally and emotionally strong enough to make it another day, don’t choose sports broadcasting as a career.

If you want a shot at a normal love life, don’t choose sports broadcasting as a career.

If you can’t tell by now, today was one of those days I just wanted to throw my hands up in the air, yell at the top of my lungs, and throw in the towel.

I keep telling myself it will all be worth it. Deep down inside I won’t be content until I’ve been able to complete the statement “I knew it was all worth it the moment I…” But some days it’s harder to believe it will all work out than others.

I am not a quitter and I am incredibly competitive. I’m not sure if I can attribute those characteristics to eight years of pageantry, eight years of running, six years of team sports, or my DNA. I just know that I have already dedicated four years of my life to internships and free work. I think my stress is rationalized and it’s perfectly normal for me to wonder when the heck I’m gonna get my break.

Now that that rant is over, as my Knoxville mom would say around the dinner table “That was all negative… Everyone say something positive.”

Today I got to spend an hour and a half on the ice. I’m getting my skating legs, slowly but surely. I practiced being a lefty for the mental reinforcement that I am indeed created to play hockey as a righty. I laughed a lot and even worked up a decent sweat. I attempted to hockey stop but still have quite a ways to go. Every time I step out on the ice, I can’t help but want more. I am so looking forward to the day where I can write about how I was the only girl on a team of boys and made them all look like ametuers. Wishful thinking?

-AS

Hockey Day in America

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First off let me begin this post by wishing everyone a Happy Hockey Day in America! By now, the day has ended, but I hope that those who are die hard hockey fans took this opportunity to oversaturate themselves with hockey celebrations and coverage and those who aren’t too familiar with the best game you can name took today as an advantage to satisfy their curiosity.

As a fan, I can say that I have taken full advantage of this celebration! After the past two nights being spent at the rink, I spent today resting… In bed, reading about the ten big match ups of the day, Rick Nash trade rumors, and other breaking hockey news. I then proceeded to watch the Blackhawks v. Blues game, went to the gym, grocery shopped, and came home to catch the last two periods of coverage of the Ice Bears @ Riverhawks game. I was hoping to finish my hockey filled day off by watching the Predators game but quite frankly I wasn’t devoted enough to get out of bed to watch it.

In the spirit of celebrating hockey in America, I thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane and recall my beginnings and milestones as a hockey fan. Reminisce with me!

September 2005 – fell in love with the one of the captains of my high school’s hockey team
October 2005 – attended my first high school hockey game
November 2005 – attended my first AHL game (Hershey Bears)
September 2006 – attended my first pre-season NHL game (Atlanta Thrashers)
November 2006 – attended my first Capitals game with the FCA group from my high school
January 2007 – attended my first Capitals game sitting TWO ROWS behind the glass
October 2010 – attended my first Nashville Predators game v. Dallas Stars
March 2011 – attended my first Tampa Bay Lightning game v. Washington Capitals
October 2011 – began my internship with the SPHL team, the Knoxville Ice Bears
November 2011 – saw my first pre-game warm up/attended my first Predators v. Capitals game
December 2011 – decided that I only want to cover hockey for the rest of my life
January 2012 – made my debut on ICEBEARS-tv interviewing Jerome Berchard, head coach of the Columbus Cottonmouths

My list of firsts and years of fandom are laughable in comparison to others but I am excited to see where this love of mine takes me in the future!

-AS

Fighter

One of the things that I am enjoying the most about growing up is how honest I feel like I can be with my parents. Okay I admit that I may have thrown a temper tantrum earlier today, but after collecting myself and apologizing for my behavior, I was encouraged to vent my frustrations to one of my best friends, my mom.

During the course of that conversation, my mom told me one of the most motivational things that I have heard in a while… (forgive my faulty short term memory but it was something to the effect of this)

You’re my little fighter. No matter how many people throw tomatoes at you, you keep on going… Not just in your career, but in life.

Today I don’t have any new and exciting ventures to share with you, but I hope that you are blessed with people that are eager to speak into your life, when you don’t expect it, when you need affirmation the most, even if you don’t realize how badly you need it, to keep you going and push you further than you were expecting to go.

-AS

Living this life, Post I

In light of my most recent heartbreak (I really don’t know how I end up attracting/being attracted to all of the crazy bi-polar ones), I have decided that I am ready to start living life to the fullest.

I am twenty one years old and only have my best years ahead of me. Granted I’ve had some amazing opportunities and experiences throughout the first two decades of my life (pageants, the Philippines, traveling across the U.S., Canada, internships, etc), I still believe there is so much more fulfillment to be had.

God doesn’t just call us to live mundane lives day to day. He has given us this life to live it to it’s fullest potential. That is why it just amazes me when I meet the “woe is me” Christians. God didn’t just create us and then send his son to die to make up for our imperfection so that we could dread waking up every day, be miserable to those around us at work, and then come home to gripe and complain to our families. We have been set free, from our sin, from our past, from the worry of tomorrow to experience the fullness of this life.

Now that I have finally had this “moment of awakening” I am ready to start living! If the past two years of my life have taught me anything, it’s that I have to make decisions for my happiness, on my own.

So I don’t know where I’m going to end up in three months. So what? What’s the point in worrying about tomorrow and missing out on the excitement of today? Yes, I’m still going to be adamant about applying for jobs and making sure that I am not falling behind in my career, but I have been blessed with so many possibilities today that I don’t want to sacrifice them for tomorrow’s anxiety.

So far this week, I took the first steps on the journey to playing hockey. I held a hockey stick in my hand for the first time. I passed the puck around a little, made some shots, and attempted a handful of slapshots. I fell down two or three times and bruised my knees but you know what? It was worth it. Wednesday was potentially one of the worst days of my life, but when I was out on the ice for two hours, nothing else in the world mattered. It was me, three super chill dudes, a few pucks, and trying to get a better viewpoint of this sport that I love so much.

This morning my roommate and I went to body bootcamp for the first time. And it was an absolute blast! So what I didn’t sleep last night and obviously need to work on my upper body strength? I tried something new, that was really challenging, but felt great about what I had accomplished by 7 this morning!

Since I was already awake, I figured I would get a head start on today’s work load and even had a half hour to hang out with my friend Charles and see the horses. I’ve been living here for a month and finally took the time to walk down to the stables and take in my surroundings. What on earth was I waiting for?

For every week that I am living in Knoxville, I am challenging myself to try new things, live more, and love this life that I’m living. I am so excited about future posts about milking goats, collecting eggs from the chicken house, attending different aerobics classes, and using the office as my guinea pigs for new cookie recipes.

Instead of reveling in the disappointment of yesterday and the fear of tomorrow, I am ready to enjoy this life, today. I challenge you to join me in living every day without fear, with excitement and an open mind and start enjoying the fullness of life that God has in store for you!

-AS

My life on the set of ICEBEARStv, Post I

To quote the one, the only, my favorite classic Christmas character, Buddy the Elf:

I’m in love, I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it!

That quote is the best way to describe the feeling I get when I am interviewing, editing, or even just thinking about the 17 guys from all over North America that comprise the SPHL team, the Knoxville Ice Bears.

One of the reasons I am so passionate about the fans getting an inside look at the kind of guys that are on our team is because I know how much fun they are to be around and how funny they can be! Yeah you come to a game and see Towns or Segal dropping the gloves and giving the other guy hell, Olauson or Van Vliet scoring, Slais with the assist, the list goes on and on of what these guys bring to the game of hockey in Knoxville.

But did you know that Mike Towns is known as “The Tower of Power” and spends his days off hanging out with the guys playing video games? Or David Segal who proudly wears his number 28 as a celebration of the clean day of his sobriety? What about Emery Olauson who began his first job at the age of 12, unloading a fruit truck for the only grocery store in his hometown of Canmore, Alberta? Then there’s Mark Van Vliet who admits to wanting to be a professional golfer when he grew up. Ambitious? Yes. Almost as ambitious as the rockstar dream Brown University graduate Eric Slais had considering how he greatly admires people who can play guitar and sing.

The more I get to interact with these guys and pick their brains about what they like, don’t like, think about other players, places, and events, I can’t help but desire for not just every Ice Bears fan to feel a greater connection to them, but for the entire city of Knoxville to feel like they know how awesome our team is outside of the confines of the Civic Coliseum.

Throughout my time with ICEBEARStv, I can only hope that you, as a fan, as a sports lover, as a critic, have the chance to get even more excited about these guys that are just like any other people you would meet on a daily basis, only I can assure you they are more entertaining and can play a much better game of hockey.

Want to see what I’m talking about? Catch these getting to know the players segments on ICEBEARStv on Comcast On Demand, America One, or YouTube (once they’re posted). Let me know what you want to ask them. I’m sure so many of you have incredible questions that haven’t even crossed my mind. Post them to our Knoxville Ice Bears Facebook page, or tweet them @icebears and see them featured before the puck drops during our broadcasts.

Join me and be a part of the excitement of hockey in Knoxville!

My almost grown up life

It is nine o’clock on a Saturday night and I find myself in my room, alone, in a city I’ve moved to unrelated to school or family.

How did I get here?

After spending countless hours researching, writing cover letters, updating my resume, filling out internship applications for professional sports teams, sports networks, and news stations, and getting rejected by all but one inquiry, I made the decision to move to Knoxville to continue my internship with the hockey team I began interning with during the fall semester. I initially kept the internship in the back if my mind as a last resort for this semester, but then life happened. And I could not be happier with how the events of my life over the past two months have played themselves out.

Yes, the massive amount of rejection endured during those two months was enough to make me doubt myself, my ability, my knowledge, my experience, and question if I was even cut out for the sports industry. Surely if I was meant to make an impact in such a competitive industry, all of the sacrifices, hard work, and internships I’ve dedicated my life to for the past three years would impress someone at a huge network and they would be thrilled to have me in board, right?

Wrong.

My accomplishments may have been impressive in the Lee University bubble but in the real world, I’m just another piece of paper, another applicant, another person trying to get more experience before she graduates with her Bachelors degree and thirty thousand dollars worth of student loans that need to be paid off.

Those two months of my life were a couple of the hardest, most challenging months of my life and they followed a semester full of bad events.

When it was all said and done, I had three options: stay home to work and possibly do another internship with the news station I interned at this past summer, possibly intern at a news station in Maryland, or move to Knoxville to continue my work with the hockey team.

With hockey being the love of my life, my familiarity of Knoxville and the team, and the possibilities with Ice Bears TV, I felt at peace when I made the decision to move to Knoxville.

I’ve lived in Knoxville for two weeks and am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.

I finally came to the realization that it doesn’t matter where I end up as long as I’m doing what I love. Whether working for a major sports network, one of my favorite professional sports teams, or for a minor league hockey team, I would rather wake up every day excited about what I get to spend that day doing than to be working somewhere where my attendance is of little importance to anything but my internship log hours.

Since my move here, I have had the opportunity to interview a head coach, the leader in goals scored for the SPHL, and a goofy team of guys that have completely stolen my heart. (I mean this in the I love being around everyone, they make my life and my job a lot of fun, not the romantic stuff, sorry readers.)

I have the honor of working with a production team and staff full of people that are passionate about hockey and the success of hockey in Knoxville, Tennessee. I am gaining valuable, hands on experience that I definitely would not have gotten at any of the other places I applied to. My creativity is challenged and my input is appreciated. Everyday I wake up, I am excited about the direction my life is going. Every night I go to sleep, I am grateful for the steps that were taken during the day that are getting me closer to my dream of being a HOCKEY BROADCASTER.

Granted I still need to find a source of income and a group of friends to hang out with in my down time, I am ecstatic for all that God has in store for this semester.

When God wants you to be somewhere, if you are obedient and allow Him to guide you, He will work things out. They may not be the plans you had for yourself, but they are the best plans because His plans are far greater and more fulfilling than anything you could arrange on your own.

For that, I am grateful.

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