"I hope that I don't get bad luck and become the next Stephan Glass or something," I whispered nervously to my sister that morning as I walked into the TD Banknorth Garden on March 21st. That day was my chance to experience the life of a Boston Bruins reporter, the job demands, experiences and unbelievable game seats. Since I am a full-time high school student, I have never worked at a full-time job let alone work as a journalist. I am a sports writer for my school newspaper, but that is the extent of my experience as a journalist. Thanks to the Bruins charity auction, I was given the opportunity to experience the life of a Bruin reporter first hand.
My arrival at 9:45 am launched the beginning of my day as a Boston Bruins employee when I was greeted by the community relations coordinator, Eryn Gallagher. Despite a busy schedule, she managed to show me every nook and cranny of the Garden. From the locker room to the Zamboni's residence, I walked through hallways most fans would have loved to see. By ten o'clock, I was in the front row of loge seats, directly behind the plexiglas, watching players such as Ian Moran, P.J. Axelsson, Andrew Raycroft, Hannu Toivonen, and Milan Jurcina practicing slapshots and saves for that night's upcoming game. Suffering from little sleep following a late flight and the morning's early start, the players practiced enthusiastically on the ice for about an hour before retiring to off-ice training or the locker room. After practice, I had the opportunity to meet with a player of my choice before he retired to the locker room for a shower after practice.
Jeremy Lemoine, the BostonBruins.com beat writer and my companion for the day, suggested I talk to Hannu Toivonen for my interview. Shy in the face of greatness, I hesitated, overcome by my nervousness. But before I knew it, I stepped up to Toivonen, shook his hand, introduced myself and began asking questions. Though I was a nobody and he was tired and sweaty, Toivonen patiently answered my questions, which ranged from his inspirational idols to his motivation for working through his ankle sprain. He clearly expressed his passion for the sport, describing a player's need for loving the game he wants to play. I couldn't help but admire his drive and determination. Soon I shook his hand again, thanked him and left.
After a few hours' break, I returned at 5:30 for the Atlanta Thrashers game that night at 7:00 pm. Entering through a special entrance only meant for employees, I received my reporter's pass, and was led again by Eryn through the complicated hallways. We threaded through a maze of hallways, up and down stairs and met many employees (Liz, Kelly, Liz, Lauren, and Kerry were just a few) along the way. We ended up in the pressroom where food is offered before the game (I was too full but I hear the food is delicious). There were about 30 people, mostly press, all eating and conversing before the game; the game's officials were even sitting behind me! Soon though, we were off again, this time using the Zamboni and forklift elevator (yes, they actually have an elevator that can carry those) to the top floor where the press views the game.
Jeremy met us again and watched the entire game with me from those amazing seats. Honestly, I want to be a reporter just for this view! Every inch of the ice is visible; it's not possible for even a tall person to block your sightline. This top floor is even equipped with televisions for quick replays of the goals, plays and fouls. While I sat back and reveled in the game's highlights and upsets, Jeremy worked constantly taking notes and even typed up highlights for his article in between periods. The seats may be perfect, but the poor reporters can't just relax and enjoy the view.
After seven rounds of shootouts and the night's upset (both of us were shaking from nervousness during those final minutes), I was brought back downstairs for a truly amazing experience - sitting in on a Mike Sullivan press conference. The room was deathly quiet while the coach answered the reporters' questions about the Bruins' disappointing loss. Though the room was tense, I was excited to have the opportunity to sit in on a private conference normally reserved only for the press.
By 11:00, I was finally finished with my busy day. Though extremely happy with my experience, I couldn't imagine the reporters and employees having to live with such little sleep and long work hours. For now, I guess I'll leave the articles to the reporters and enjoy the game from the cheap seats.