COLUMN: Hey, it’s our birthday!
LARAMIE -- I will never forget that night -- I mean morning -- exactly one year ago.
We were in a cramped office on the west side of Cheyenne, blurry eyes glued to computer screens and keys pounding around the room. There wasn't much chatter. I think we were all nervous. I know I was on edge.
Could we really pull this off? A totally independent website with zero backing from investors or a mother company?
I promised my wife -- this better work!
I'm back in my home state, giving myself my dream job ... Can I really do this?
Would we be well received? Trusted? To me, those are key factors when it comes to any media. Will people call us the "B-word," a moniker I absolutely loathe? That's blog, if you're wondering. And, yes, I hate that word with a passion.
We had put in the groundwork leading up to launch day.
We traveled to Texas to interview Dana Dimel, Fennis Dembo and Don Clayton. We went to Mitch Donahue's home in Billings, Montana. We battled icy roads and white-out conditions to go to Salt Lake City and attend what would be the final game of the Alliance of American Football. Why? Dennis Erickson, Mike Purcell and Ryan Cummings were there.
All of this while hanging garage doors 45-plus hours a week to make ends meet.
Don't get me wrong, I had plenty of confidence heading into this little venture. I had spent the better part of the last three years covering Michigan State University athletics and later the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Tom Izzo, Mark Dantonio, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, among many others, will get you ready for your debut.
I was the inaugural Wyoming Journalist of the Year back in the day. I have plaques and awards from every stop along the way, including sports story of the year in Michigan -- first and second place -- and sports section of the year in Texas.
I had nearly a decade of journalism under my belt. The guys I chose to surround myself with, they had a ton of professional experience, too.
We were ready -- I hoped.
The Dembo feature was our first headliner. Inside his San Antonio home, the former UW hoops star told us in graphic detail about the night that changed his life forever. He shot and killed a home invader on Easter morning. It doesn't get more raw than that.
Dimel admitted that if he had it to do over again, he might not have left Laramie. At least not for the Houston job. Donahue was open about his alcohol addiction and the impact that had on his son, Dylan Donahue, who recently lost his dream job in the NFL because of the bottle.
Purcell told me he had a year or two of pro football left in him. He was going to become a fire fighter. By now, you all know his story. He is dominating for his hometown Denver Broncos.
These are the stories I always wanted to hear, growing up a Cowboys fan.
I wanted to know what Conrad Dobler thought about his time in Laramie. Last summer, I drove to Pueblo, Colorado, and asked him myself. I wanted to know why Brett Smith and Austyn Carta-Samuels really left the program. So, I called them.
My childhood hero was Marcus Harris. He just purchased a shirt with my face on it!
I'm amazed everyday.
Today, we celebrate turning one. It hasn't always been easy or smooth. Relying solely on advertising to pay the bills hasn't exactly been fun. Covid-19 gave that an extra kick in the pants.
This day really isn't about us though. It's about you, the fans. From day one, you have read our 710 stories, watched our 117 videos, interacted with us in person and on social media, and most importantly, trusted that we would bring you the latest, up-to-date news on your Cowboys.
That means the world to me. To us.
We would be nothing without your support. That is a fact that will never be lost on me. My goal was to provide a service to my state and the fans of our lone university. I wanted to give you another option to get your news, entertainment and express your opinions.
I was you just a couple short years ago. Scouring the internet to find the latest Wyoming stories. I was commenting on videos -- sometimes in a "passionate" manner -- just like you.
I always tell people about the story that really got the ball rolling on this crazy idea. I was in the press box at Spartan Stadium, covering a Top-25 meeting between MSU and Penn State. Wyoming kicked off at the same time. My colleagues were not the least bit surprised to see the Pokes game on my computer screen.
Was I invested in the Spartans game? Absolutely.
But, my heart was inside War Memorial Stadium as the Cowboys and a young freshman quarterback named Sean Chambers ran past the Spartans of San Jose State.
There are hundreds of people to thank -- literally. All the support we receive on a daily basis is so humbling. It makes the marathon drives and long hours all worth it.
I feel like we almost have a little family here. That's the Wyoming way, isn't it?
What wardrobe malfunction?
Nearly 100 shirts, sweatshirts, coffee mugs, cell phone cases, and all kinds of other 7220sports.com merchandise, flew off the shelves of Home Town Printed Apparel in Douglas this week.
We humbly asked for your help and you delivered. What else is new?
Hayden Barker, the owner of HTPA, kept me up to date on sells all week long. Safe to say we are both amazed by your support. We are both Wyoming natives running small businesses. The pandemic has done a number on us. Imagine what Hayden has lost with school out for the year?
That's team apparel, letter jackets, uniforms, etc. That town loves Hayden, and I have zero doubt that he will be just fine, but isn't it beautiful when we all work in harmony like this?
I don't want to name names, but the father of a current UW football player even bought 11 shirts. Not for himself, but for active military members in Cheyenne. Our photographer, DJ Johnson, is stoked to get those in the right hands out at FE Warren Air Force Base.
If you are interested in supporting us, check out our apparel right HERE. Hayden is also officially licensed to sell UW gear. He has plenty of that on his site, too.
Looking like a party in the forecast
We asked you if you wanted to have a 7220 party in Laramie on July 2, 2020 (7.2.20), and overwhelmingly, you said "yes!"
Let's do it.
I spoke to our good friend Juan Soto at The Library downtown and they have the entire upstairs reserved for that Thursday night. We are talking about some food and drink specials, too.
We also had another crazy idea -- how about a food challenge while we are there? Maybe we can get a few big guys to take down some chicken wings or something? Details to come.
Hoping we can get some former or current Cowboys to show up, too.