About two-and-a-half years have passed since I took over as manager of The UConn Blog- which is absolutely wild because I never, ever thought I would be doing anything like this, neither as a hobby nor as a part-time job. But that's where we are.
With basketball season about to begin, I'm hoping you'll indulge me as I share a quick story.
At the start of my time as manager, I have to admit I had close-to-zero idea as to what I was doing.
I had no journalism background, used social media sparingly, and quite honestly didn't have a great grasp of what was going on with the football program. I was watching most games, and even made the trip for the Fiesta Bowl, but was hardly interested in dissecting what was going down on the field.
I flailed around for the first few weeks before being saved by Mac Cerullo. I plucked Mac out of the comment section, noting the 'Daily Campus Sports Dept.' in his signature. He had a job with a newspaper in Massachusetts but kindly agreed to help me out. I asked a good friend, Sam Marshall, also a Daily Campus vet, to run the Twitter account. He was also kind enough to edit and publish a bunch of articles and work on formatting and layout. It was a helter-skelter operation, but we made it work.
Mac was an absolute force. He also got Andrew Callahan, our former resident football guru, to join the team. Both wrote amazing things here and are currently enjoying wonderful careers as journalists. Sam works in advertising and still fires out the occasional tweet for us (I think).
By the time those guys had to move on and focus on doing real-life things, I had become moderately competent at those website management-y things, and smart enough to know that I needed to look back to the Daily Campus ranks for the site's next superstar writer.
Enter Tim Fontenault.
Tim first appeared on this site in an interview with Mac to discuss the scene from his perspective at the 2014 Final Four. I actually met him there in Dallas a day later and he would eventually start covering hockey for us. He did an outstanding job, and it was a no-brainer to later offer him a role as a co-manager of the site.
Tim is in his third season covering the men's basketball team. It is my third season bloggering about it. Along with a strong team of contributing writers, we will once again raise our bar for basketball coverage. Hopefully, as a fan of our work thus far, that comes as exciting news to you.
But wait! There's more!
Believe it or not, there is a ton of opportunity for you to create and participate on this site with us. The computers tell me that a lot of people stop by, but few feel the desire to comment on an article, or use some of the other features of this glorious SB Nation platform.
It also occurs to me, though, that you may stumble upon these things called Fanposts or FanShots and wonder what the heck they are. Or see us put up a Game Thread and wonder what the point is when the real hoppin' internet party is on Twitter.
With that in mind, here are a few explainers which will help you make the most of your experience here on this site. If you've made it this far, you must like us at least a little bit. I hope you'll consider joining the conversation as you continue to enjoy our coverage, opinions, and occasional high jinks.
Fanposts - These lovely pieces of internet look like normal UConn Blog articles. The only differences are that anyone can write them and they appear on a different section of the site.
That's right, scroll down to the middle of the home page and look at the column on the far-right. That spot is open game for anyone to contribute upon. Do you have an opinion about this upcoming basketball season? Care to share your thoughts about the football team's bowl chances? Go for it! You'll have basically the same interface and tools that the writers and editors of any SB Nation site see.
Many posts which you may have seen, including hits such as "Husky Up," or derbyguy's in-depth analysis of recruiting classes, or, more recently, a review of the UConn experience in NBA 2K16, are Fanposts which we bumped to the home page. In fact, many SB Nation writers and site managers have been discovered in Fanpost sections.
FanShots - This is a way to share a piece of news with the community via a link, video, tweet, or quote. Just like Fanposts, anyone can put a FanShot up.
One way to think of it in internet lingo is like a "retweet-plus," in that you are sharing a piece of info to a large group, but it has slightly more staying power with a spot on the website and you get to use more than 140 characters to talk about it in a fairly closed environment with other UConn fans. We've mostly used it to share interesting and fun stuff, or to get a piece of news out that may not need a full article to tell the story. They can be used for whatever the heck you want, as long as it's relevant.
Game Threads - We put up a game thread for every football and basketball game. It's like the pancake breakfast in Anchorman, except with commenting on the internet. We'll usually share a few final thoughts before the game, maybe make a prediction if we're feeling frisky, include relevant TV and streaming audio info, and hopefully start a healthy discussion amongst UConn fans. One benefit of the game thread, or comment section of any article, is the GIF Oracle, which can help you find the perfect short video to describe your feelings.
The other major benefit is the opportunity to share tweets, video, stats and other insights that warrant greater permanence than scrolling down and out of a Twitter timeline, especially during a game when #UConnTwitter is firing on all cylinders. We'll also be making a concerted effort to ensure that as much of our staff as possible is actively in these threads, which should make things pretty "lit" and/or "on fleek" for basketball season.
When there's one day left until the start of college basketball pic.twitter.com/y2S2VTF4aV— UConnGIFs (@UConnGIFs) November 12, 2015
One of the things that make SB Nation team sites unique compared to traditional news sites is that they allow and encourage open communication between writers and readers and are truly at their best with active participation from both sides. I hope knowing a little bit more about the site and how it works will make it easier for you to play along.
We're also always open to any suggestions about what you'd like to see from us. Free to share your thoughts in the comments or tweet me @Aman_UConn.
Happy start of basketball season!