2011 was a pretty superb year for me. I not only made strides in my personal life and career, but I also had the opportunity to experience so many awesome things, spanning all they way across the globe! I travelled new places, met new people, and spent time with those who I care about most, while adding a number of moments to the memory book.
When I began to reflect, I realized that probably 80 percent of the cool places I went and incredible things did all related back to sport. Whether it was for work or play, my passion provided me with an amazing journey this year.
I couldn’t list them all, but from boxing to basketball, and California to Russia, sports took me all over. From here to there, I give you a glimpse.
Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. TCU
Growing up for a large part of my life in Wisconsin, I have always been a Wisconsin Badger fan. Last year I was lucky enough to have them bring a game to me when the team made it to the Rose Bowl.
Played right outside Los Angeles, in Pasadena, California, I had the privilege of going to my first Rose Bowl to watch the Badgers take on TCU. Unfortunately Wisconsin lost, but I still had a great time. Three of my best girlfriends from home came out to visit and many memories were made!
NBA All-Star Game
Los Angeles, CA
With the NBA All-Star game in Los Angeles last year, I attended my first pro All-Star game as well as the events that surrounded it. The star-studded game included numerous courtside celebs such as Justin Bieber, Jay-Z and Beyonce, and a half-time show featuring Rihanna with a surprise Kanye West guest appearance.
Although L.A. and downtown traffic was a madhouse, the weekend was still a lot of fun.
UMMC Ekaterinburg vs. Dynamo Kursk Women’s Basketball
Of all the places in the world to go for my first ever journey out of the country, I decided to start with a trip all the way to the other side of the globe, to Ekaterinburg, Russia. The reason for the trip was to visit one of my closest friends, Candace Parker, who spends her offseason from the WNBA playing overseas in Russia for a team called UMMC Ekaterinburg.
While most of the trip was spent hanging out and experiencing a bit of the Russian lifestyle, UMMC did have a home game while I was there so I was lucky enough to see a game. I must say, I was quite impressed. The city of Ekaterinburg loves their womens’ basketball, and a country more accustomed to soccer, the environment felt a bit like that of a FIFA game. Equipped with thundersticks and sporting matching orange vests and hats, the fans were loyal, loud and proud. They had many organized cheers and were enthusiastic throughout the entire game.
UMMC played Dynamo Kursk, which featured fellow Tennessee alum, Michelle Snow, as well as Lindsey Harding.
NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four
The 2011 Women’s Basketball Final Four was held in Indianapolis last year and I decided to attend for my first time as a spectator. Having been twice before, in 2007 and 2008 with the Tennessee Women’s basketball team, the experience was definitely not the same without the Lady Vols there. I did however, enjoy seeing Notre Dame take down Connecticut and Texas A&M defeat Stanford in a thriller and it was also good to catch up with so many people from the basketball world who I hadn’t seen in awhile.
Manny Pacqiuao vs. Sugar Shane Mosley
Las Vegas, NV
Last May I covered my first ever boxing match when Top Rank brought me on board to do some work with their team for the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley fight. This experience was definitely one of a kind, as it featured two of the sports’ premiere fighters and really opened my eyes to the world of boxing.
Along with working and watching the fight ringside, I also got an inside look at how the fighters prepare. I attended the main press conference here in LA at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Sugar Shane’s media day up in Big Bear, as well as all of the pre-fight action in Vegas. The journey was a lot like watching Fight Camp 360 live.
The whole event was incredible, from weigh-ins, to walk-outs, to the actual fight. I developed a great interest and respect for the sport. I could definitely see covering boxing in my future.
Kevin Durant Nike Basketball Skills Academy
While in Chicago last summer, I had the chance to catch up with NBA All-Star Kevin Durant and checkout his Nike Basketball Skills Academy, which was being held at Attack Athletics.
The camp featured many of the best guards in the country from both high school and college, such as Harrison Barnes and Austin Rivers. I also grabbed a quick interview with Kevin as we talked this season, the lockout and all things across the board!
Baron Davis’ All-Star Kickball Challenge
Santa Monica, CA
Back in July, Knicks point guard Baron Davis held his 2nd Annual All-Star Kickball Challenge benefiting his foundation Rising Stars of America. The event brought out many athletes and stars for a family fun day and a little friendly competition.
I had the opportunity to cover the event and interview many of the athletes, but the best part of the whole day was seeing how many big names came out to support a good cause. Here are some more photos, as well as a blog.
Kansas City Chiefs’ Training Camp
Kansas City, MO
Back in August I covered my first ever NFL training camp when I attended Kansas City Chiefs’ camp for ChiefsCoalition.com. The heat was really the only complaint, as it was definitely a great experience.
I caught up with friend and former Vol, Chiefs’ safety Eric Berry and got my first taste of Kansas City BBQ. I also recently did a story for ChiefsCoalition.com on KC running back Dexter McCluster, which can be seen here.
Jamie Foxx’s 3-on-3 Charity Basketball Tournament
Los Angeles, CA
In September, Jamie Foxx held a charity fundraiser which included a celebrity 3-on-3 basketball tournament, along with a 5-on-5 tournament featuring current NBA players. The event, which spanned the entire day, raised a large amount of money to benefit the Pacific Lodge Youth Services. The list of celebrities in attendance ranged from actor Denzel Washington, to rapper Snoop Dogg, to baller Derek Fisher, and everyone in between.
I spent the day doing on court interviews for Foxxhole Radio.
Wisconsin Badgers vs. Indiana Sooners Homecoming Football Game
In October, I took a trip home for an awesome weekend with the family to celebrate my brother and mom’s birthdays. I figured my brother would enjoy going to the Wisconsin Badger football game for his birthday, so I got everyone tickets and we went to see them play Indiana on homecoming.
The idea was a hit. We had a total blast spending time as a family, tailgating and watching the Badgers dominate Indiana at Camp Randall.
Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Green Bay, WI
Don’t ask me why or how, but for some reason I grew up a Minnesota Vikings fan despite living in Illinois and Wisconsin for most of my life. So, back in November, when opportunity arose, I was able to knock a game off of my sports’ bucket list when I attended the Green Bay Packers-Minnesota Vikings Monday night football game at Lambeau.
The tickets came courtesy of rookie Packers’ wide receiver Randall Cobb, so I did have to cheer for he and the Packers a little, but that ended up not being all that difficult because the Vikings got KILLED! My guest was one of my best friends growing up, whom I’ve spent ten years battling with everytime the Packers and Vikings play.
Tennessee Lady Vols vs UCLA Bruins
Los Angeles, CA
In December, the Lady Vols came to L.A. to take on the UCLA Bruins. Since it was a West Coast trip they had a few days to hangout before gameday, which allowed lots of time to catch up with everyone. I attended practice, caught up with Coach Summitt and the staff, and hung with my girls before watching them beat up on UCLA.