Act One – Leading up to Omaha
Friends, I want to tell you a story. A few days before the Gamecocks were set to leave for Omaha, Garnet Report’s lead editor Randall called me and said:
Hey Stephen, I was thinking. What if we were to ask the NCAA for press passes to Omaha?
I thought about it for a second, and said: “You know, they’re just going to say no…why bother?” Now I’ve made some bad decisions before, but this ranks among the worst. At this particular moment, the Garnet Report team has been working for 6 months and received little positive traction. Our initial concept was based on sending USC students an email every day. Which we found isn’t very high on a student’s list of desires. More email. Please send me more email. Nope.
Days go by and I’m sitting at my kitchen table (which doubles as an office) when a call comes from Randall. “Hi,” he says, “you won’t believe this, but WE GOT A PRESS PASS.”
I couldn’t believe it.
It felt like a miracle. Sure, if you’re USA Today or The State you get your passes mailed…no problem. But we’re a startup. We have no shot at the big time. Imagine Steve Urkel asking the prom queen to dance. Or a bad video about “Friday” becoming a sensation. Just like that.
Act 2 – Getting There
Getting to Omaha was an adventure in itself. It turns out, with a budget of less-than-$20,000, getting a hotel room is impossible. He texted me one day and said: “I’m not sure I can make it. It’s not looking good. There are no rooms.”
But I was confident. Randall loves baseball and will do just about anything to see the Gamecocks play. And indeed he did. A friendly man named Mr. Isenberger offered to lend his house for as long as we needed it. Which turned out to be a pretty long time.
For the first few days, to save the taxi fare, Randall rode Mr. Isenberger’s bike 3.5 miles to the stadium (and back) each day. While I thought Nebraska was corn-growing land, evidently its entire allotment of hills is bunched into Omaha. Sad.
So there we were, with an editor in Omaha and absolutely no idea what to do about it.
Act 3 – @ReptartheFish
About 10 minutes before the game against Florida, I thought that Reptar needed a more active voice on Twitter. If he has shirts, and a hand-symbol, and all that, he ought to have a good Twitter account. Just to see what happened, I created the handle and started tweeting. Our first tweet was:
Today, Fish beats Gator. #FeartheFish!
With that, Fish did beat Gator and our week would change more than I could’ve imagined.
Act 4 – Everything changes
That evening, we went from 0 followers on @ReptartheFish to 217. Our coverage on @GarnetReport got picked up by some big tweeps like Justin King and a few others, and we had tripled our formerly-meager 106 twitter followers there as well!
Our team was reeling in the glory. We had struck gold. In reality, our actual numbers were only a few hundred followers. But nevertheless, it was go time. The retweets came flooding in and thousands of people followed our coverage of the CWS. It was really amazing, and we’re humbled at the positive response.
By the end of the week, we had the opportunity to tweet with some of the most passionate Gamecock fans in the world. They were overwhelmingly kind and received our wildly ridiculous tweets with joy. We even got one hater! If you followed or retweeted us this week, thank you so much. We are super grateful for your support and couldn’t do it without you.
Act 5 – What’s next for Garnet Report?
Yayyyyyyy a bunch of people followed us on twitter. So that’s it right? Wah wah. No way!
We are committed to providing the most fun stories at USC. To do that, our team is going to tweet pictures of dead razorbacks and petition that Arizona leave the Union when they win the CWS (someone on Twitter took this seriously). We’re even going to use words like badass. But at the end of the day, we really care about the Gamecocks and love to have fun telling their story.
If you’re just interested in the facts, by all means, read ESPN or a dozen other accounts that were posted 30 seconds after the game. But if you want to hear about our team’s inspirational relationship with a former cancer patient who is now the Gamecocks’ biggest fan in Omaha, check out our stuff. If you want to hear about Carolina’s Magical Run from a stumbling start to the championship series, check out our stuff. And if you want to read about a team of “knucklehead” freshmen like Pankake, Greiner, Montgomery, and English then BY ALL MEANS read Garnet Report.
Next semester, we’ll be focusing in on a few topics:
- Gamecock Sports
- Carolina Girls (Fashion and Entertainment)
- Big Events on Campus
My author teams *love* each of those categories (different authors, I promise) and they’re going to kill it. Garnet Report will focus on those at first, with the ultimate mission of covering the whole campus with the most fun stories. Stay tuned–all that is coming in mid August.
For now, follow @GarnetReport on Twitter, and thanks for being a part of this community!
A huge thanks to Randall who sacrificed a ton of energy and time to come to Omaha. He wrote 20,000+ words in 11 days, and wrote some of the best sports stories I’ve ever read. If you’re with ESPN and you’re reading this, would you work out a kickass sportswriting job for him? His email is email@example.com.