I was putting the final touches on my coverage of the 2008 Los Angeles Dodgers as an associate reporter for MLB.com, steadfast in my desire not to think about the next step of my career until the final out in the Dodgers’ season had been recorded, when a message appeared in my inbox offering just the adventure I was seeking.
The note came from ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz requesting a conversation about a blog network ESPN planned on forming that became the TrueHoop Network. The timing for me was perfect and once he said the words “Phoenix Suns blog,” I was hooked.
Over the past six seasons since that conversation took place weeks before the 2008-09 NBA season, it has been my pleasure to bring you my take on Phoenix Suns basketball on ValleyoftheSuns.com.
Today marks the end of my tenure with the site as I have sold ValleyoftheSuns to FanSided as I venture off to Connecticut to start a job as a production researcher for ESPN. While I am certainly excited to join the many legions of TrueHoop bloggers to find their first full-time job in the sports industry thanks in part to their efforts in the Network, it’s also bittersweet to say goodbye to my site.
You are in the capable hands of Kevin Zimmerman, who has been running the site for the past 15 months since I went to grad school, and I’m confident that the FanSided platform will allow the site to grow in ways we could not otherwise with the many resources they have available for us.
For me, it’s been a wild ride, and I’ve enjoyed every second of it. Before going to actual graduate school, I used to call ValleyoftheSuns my personal grad school for all I learned about WordPress, advanced statistics, the salary cap, SEO, Google Analytics, web advertising and many other topics that complement the actual writing.
As a journalism major at the University of Arizona, my goal was always to cover the team like a newspaper would while also taking full advantage of the flexibility the web offers to package content in different ways such as video chats, Mike Schmitz’s famous video breakdowns and in-depth breakdowns of how each transaction impacts the team’s future.
Although ValleyoftheSuns started out as a one-man enterprise from the writing side, the site would not have been possible without a host of individuals. It started with my friend Bryan Roy, who designed the first site for me and answered my incessant calls about WordPress when I came to him with a desire to start a blog but no knowledge about the platform. Brandon Haraway, who left ValleyoftheSuns to join the Army, helped me get the site off the ground as a contributor my first season.
Then Mike Schmitz came along and added a new dimension to the site with his video breakdowns that were so good that he eventually got hired as an assistant video coordinator for the Bakersfield Jam. He now works as a Video Scout for DraftExpress, authoring the same kind of videos he first started posting on ValleyoftheSuns. Along with Schmitz, I’m very proud that ValleyoftheSuns alums now work for FoxSportsArizona.com (Tyler Lockman), MLB.com (Tyler Emerick) and Suns.com (Matt Petersen).
The current staff with Zimmerman, Dave Dulberg, Ryan Weisert and Jeff Sanders have done a great job covering the 2013-14 season, and I’m confident will continue to produce great work in the future. All of these guys balance ValleyoftheSuns with commitments from other sites with Zim serving as the blog manager for AZ Desert Swarm, Dulberg writing for Arizona Sports and Sanders interning with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
James Constable did a great job with coding our site re-design in 2010 and always being available for my Google Analytics and site questions, and Matt Manske did a nice job designing the 2010 redesign.
The support of Henry Abbott, Kevin Arnovitz and the rest of the TrueHoop Network has been tremendous. Henry and Kevin gave me and all the other writers that have come through this blog an opportunity to showcase our best work on the biggest stage there is for basketball writing, ESPN.com. Their guidance has helped me improve as a basketball writer and a blog owner.
Perhaps most of all, I’m proud of the community ValleyoftheSuns has become. When I first started the blog before the 2008-09 season, along with being a home of smart Phoenix Suns analysis with old school journalistic principles in a modern blog format, I most wanted this site to become a place where Suns fans could come for intelligent water cooler talk. Overall, I feel that has happened.
ValleyoftheSuns has helped me grow in many areas of my professional life and overall has been a labor of love for me. Thanks to the blog I covered all three rounds of the Suns’ 2010 playoff run (the Suns’ only playoff appearance in VotS history), Vegas Summer League, Sloan, countless home games and a handful of practices. I’ve learned the secrets of the Suns’ medical staff, the inner workings of the collective bargaining agreement and how to use advanced stats to tell stories, which I will now be doing for ESPN.
I’ve always taken a lot of pride in ValleyoftheSuns and how far the blog has come these past six seasons, and thus today I feel like a proud papa as I hand the keys off to Kevin and the FanSided gang to see where they can take the blog in the next several years.