Ok wait, there is a little more to get to before the actual tryout. I think it's important to have the entire experience down in writing....
The Friday morning before the big day I woke up at 5am to get a workout in. I played basketball with the usual 6am morning hoops crew to work on a few small things I wanted to focus on. I also made a decision to play in the 7:30am run, something that I very rarely do. Thought I could use a little more game action to get myself ready. We'll get back to that decision later.
The Lake Erie Monsters also played a game on the Friday night before tryouts, and so I was busy with the usual game day workload. However this day was different then most in my tenure with Cleveland's hockey team. My thoughts and mental focus were in another place, on another challenge that was inevitably coming. I couldn't help but think about what was coming that next morning and what this opportunity meant. Basketball is part of my DNA, part of who I am. I never was able to get over the fact that I wasn't a basketball player anymore. Everyone wants to be identified by things they do well. Basketball was something I've always known I could do better than most, but my potential never was never fully realized. Maybe this was one last chance to prove that, or maybe it was just one last chance to get on the hardwood with something on the line.
Either way I couldn't help but feeling a little guilty throughout the day for my mind being elsewhere on a game day. My team depends on me, and I depend on them, but that day admittedly I couldn't keep my mind on the business. Shortly after the puck dropped at 7:30pm I headed up to the office to pack my bags and sneak out a little early, but not before I got a phone call from one Scott Gordon. Our Senior Client Relationship Executive. He said there was an issue and needed my help right away. I literally had my bags on my shoulders and was walking out the door, and it was absolutely the last thing I needed at that moment. An angry fan screaming at me sending my blood pressure through the roof. But I put my stuff down and headed back down to the concourse.
Shockingly, there was no emergency. Someone on our team, who will remain nameless, had set me up. Again. And it was none other than the person that has stood side by side with me since the Monsters were born and helped build it from scratch. Who coincidentally is also turning 30 soon. Anyway, I was called out onto a platform by my good friend and our in-arena host at Monsters games, Olivier Sedra. He then proceeded to do a live spot with me on camera and put me on blast in front of the entire arena of Monsters fans. Happy 30th birthday and good luck was the message, followed by my Armenian mug on the giant Q-tube as he let everyone in the building know. The whole thing actually made me relax a little bit and made me feel great about the people that make up our Monsters team. It's why we are who we are. Good people are what make an organization great, not the other way around.
But I digress....
So I finally was able to leave the arena and head to my house in Ohio City. I packed my bags with enough gear for three days down in Akron and four sessions of basketball. The plan was to stay with my parents in Bath, which was much closer to the tryout location, Canton McKinley Memorial Gymnasium. It was going to make the early mornings much easier and just being at home would have a calming affect on my mental state. But that Friday night I decided to stay in Cleveland so I could get to bed sooner and then make the early morning drive down.