Eric Austin and Dale Mills were on hand to take in all the action on Thursday, Nov. 15 when the Predators took on the Chicago Blackhawks
Read below as the two students co-write their experiences.Who would’ve thought there were more than twelve guys, a couple goals, and a puck?By: Eric Austin and Dale Mills
To most people, a hockey game is just a three-period contest between 12 guys on an ice rink. All eyes are fixated on those 12 men battling for a little black disk. Yes, to most people a hockey game is exactly what it seems. But what I learned at the Sommet Center is that there is much more to a hockey game (and any professional sporting event for that matter) than meets the eye.
My co-writer Dale Mills and I arrived at the media entrance just a few blocks from our school Thursday night (Nov. 15) for the Predators-Blackhawks game not quite knowing what to expect. I knew that I was about to experience something that I had seen many times before from a completely new perspective. What I did not know is that my eyes were about to be opened to a completely different world going on underneath this very familiar event.
We headed down the elevator which opened to reveal a wide gray corridor and our guide for the evening, Erich Wilhelm, Community Relations Coordinator for the Nashville Predators. We introduced ourselves and then headed over to the media dinner down the hallway. During dinner we looked over a mountain of stat sheets which included information on every team in the league and just about every fact you could ask for about the hometown team. The room was filled with media people as well as coordinators for the game. Most notable for me was hearing the familiar voices of Pete Weber and Terry Crisp at the table to our right. I realized that for the individuals here, this was a nightly ritual. Many of them were good friends as you could easily tell by the light-hearted mood of the room.
After dinner we went to the elevator that would lift us to our seats in the press box for the evening. On our way, we walked through a frenzy of people getting ready for the game. We passed the dual zambonis which were being prepped for their rides around the ice.
We then made the ascent to our seats which were nothing like I had expected. I envisioned a temperature controlled room with a couple rows of desks and the sounds of ringing phones and typing fingers. In actuality though, the press “box” was a section in one of the corners of the upper bowl. It consisted of about four rows of long desks with a nametag set out for each journalist. I was excited to see notable outlets like 106.7 and ESPN present. The open press box really helped me to get a sense of what the arena was like at key moments at the game, and I saw how being able to catch the sounds of the players, officials and fans would be essential to a journalist’s postgame recap. But unlike the roaring fans around us, we had to maintain a professional, impartial demeanor throughout the game, even when Martin Erat
scored the game-winning goal just 19 seconds into the overtime period.
When the overtime thriller was over, we moved downstairs and sat in for the press conference with coach Trotz. Here again I picked up a clear familiarity with the coach and the few reporters that question him night after night. They talked a lot of strategy, a little too much for my limited knowledge of the sport to handle, but it was still a great experience just getting to view a real press conference with the coach of a professional sports team.
The night was winding down. On our way out, we were shown the offices of the Predators organization. Here you really get a perspective of just how much goes into maintaining a team in the NHL. It may be one thing to be a season ticket holder and make it to every game of the year. But for the players, journalists, and working staff, hockey is much more than a spectator sport. It’s a way of life, and for them, everyday is game day.