Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sports and Video Games: How Video Games Changed My Life In Sports

I would consider myself a huge sports junkie today, but that wasn’t necessarily the case when I was growing up.  Born and raised in Idaho, I did not have the variety of sports to engage in as others had elsewhere across the country, but I was involved in a few of the major sports in Idaho. For some of you out-of-towners, Idaho is known as a Football state and people across the state live and breathes it.  Along with Football, there is Baseball, Soccer, and Basketball as the other major sports to play in Idaho. I played all four growing up and since my family owned a sporting goods store, it was pretty easy to get into sports. Although I played sports when I was younger, I never really cared much about the world of sports outside of Idaho. I never really cared much about what was going on in professional or college sports. I only cared about the local teams as well as the teams I played on. It is safe to say that sports have been a big part of my life growing up, but video games have been there every step of the way as well and the two have made it possible for me to become a fanatic for the sports of Ice Hockey and Soccer.

Yeah, Football is kinda a big deal in Idaho.

I have always loved playing video games and it all started with Tecmo Bowl on Nintendo.   I can play any type of video game from First Person Shooters to Action Adventure, but the games that I spend countless hours playing are sports game (weird, right?). I remember playing Jordan vs. Bird: One on One as well as NFL Game Day when I was younger and to this day sports games are taking over my collection of video games.
Techmo Bowl. No One Could Stop Bo Jackson! 

Bird vs. Jordan: Super One On One was a Classic on the Genesis

For the sport of Ice Hockey, it all started during the summer of 2000 when I was relaxing at home on my computer trying out video game demos. I happened to get a demo CD of all the EA Sports games that were coming out for the 2000 season.  I tried every demo on there from Basketball to Soccer, but fell in love with the NHL 2000 demo that had the two recent teams in the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals. The two teams were the Dallas Stars and the Buffalo Sabres and I had no idea who had won the cup as I didn’t follow hockey when I was fifteen. I played as both teams, but the Sabres jerseys and players were cool to me. I kept playing the demo all summer and ended up buying NHL 2000 and playing as the Sabres. I now consider myself a huge Sabres fan and follow the team religiously. I even started playing roller hockey and since I moved to Boise, I have been playing Ice Hockey and even work for the Idaho Steelheads of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). Hockey is definitely my favorite sport and I have only been following it for eleven years.

Michael Peca (Sabres) taking out Jere Lehtinen (Stars) in NHL 2000

Another sport that I have grown to love is one that not only my friends and family are surprised that I follow, but myself as well. The sport of Soccer has never been a favorite of mine. I played it when I was younger and did not like it very much at all. It might be due to the fact that there was a lot of running involved and my footwork with a ball was not great. With Football and Baseball as my go to playing sports, I left Soccer in the dust and never looked back until just a couple years ago. Once again video games were an integral part in making me take back my feelings of soccer and becoming a sport I follow almost as much as Hockey. In the fall of 2010, I downloaded EA Sports FIFA 10 Demo for the PS3 so I could give Soccer another chance. I started playing as FC Barcelona and just like with the Sabres I fell in love with the jerseys and players. I now follow FC Barcelona as much as I can and enjoy watching any Soccer that is on. I even played a little indoor soccer with some friends, but still do not have the footwork to be great at it. I’ll just stick to watching it and playing it on the PS3.

 Xavi and Messi of FC Barcelona vs Chelsea in FIFA 10

With my history of sports and video games, it shouldn’t be surprising how I became engrossed in the two sports that I follow with a passion today. Everyone has their own story on how they got into liking something no matter if it was a certain hobby, business, or sport. Whenever I tell people how I started following and loving Ice Hockey and Soccer, they definitely are surprised, but I wouldn’t change it any other way. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Brawling in McCall with Team LaxAllStars

A first blog has always eluded me in a sense that I always had good ideas and subjects to write about, but none of them were substantial for a first blog. This, however, will be substantial. For most that know me, sports are a big part of my life. From having my family own a sporting goods store to playing many sports since I can remember, it is safe to say I love sports. One sport that I have grown to love, but have only been involved in for the past decade, is the great game of lacrosse.

Starting to play lax right into college for Boise State in 2003, I enjoyed all parts of the game and the chance to compete and play with great people. I have done my best to keep playing lacrosse as much as I could through summer leagues and tournaments after my collegiate career had ended. I was excited when Jeff Brunelle asked if I would join his team, Team LaxAllStars (LAS), for the 2011 Brawl in McCall Lacrosse tournament that was held this past weekend. Although I had played in the Brawl five out of the eight years it has been in existence, I was never this excited to join a great group of guys from all over the Pacific Northwest.

Beautiful McCall, Idaho

Three key expectations were set for Team LAS a few days prior to the tournament. Those three keys to lacrosse (as well as life in general) were that of selflessness, sportsmanship, and respect. When reading these expectations that Jeff sent out, I realized that not only will this team be made up of great guys, but that I needed to rethink the way I play the game. Throughout my lacrosse career I have been known as a bruiser. I was the guy that will lay down a hit more often than not and will not shy away from the rough play and chatter that all sports have. Even prior to the tournament, my buddy Bradford sent me a tweet asking if I have read the expectations and to not get in any fights. Right then I knew I needed to change for Team LAS, the great game of lacrosse, and myself.

Just another day at the office for Boise State Lax
Team LAS started out like any new team that have not been accustomed to playing with one another as we went 0-2 against two of the tournament’s better teams in Issaquah and Bainbridge. We played hard and kept the games relatively close, but with the lack of experience playing together, we still had yet hit our stride. On the second and final day of the tournament, we were able to pull out our first win against the short-handed Palo Alto Ducks, who I played with last year and had a good time with despite few subs. Our last game of the day was against the Scallywags who were tournament favorites as they have won three Brawls in a row (one year being as Ridaho, which was the team I was part of for most of my Brawl in McCall experience). The game was a physical and hard fought game that went back and forth, but the Scallywags prevailed and ended up winning the tournament for a fourth year (Woozle-esque if you must).  It was one of the best games to be a part of (game of the tourney I would recommend) and even though we lost, I have never felt better after a loss than I did after that last game, even with my excessive competitiveness!

Yours truly playing defense vs Issaquah

I ended up playing pretty well despite changing my game to what I was accustomed to at Boise State. I never took a penalty and kept my trash talk and heavy hitting to a minimum. Team LAS finally gelled as a team on the last day and although our record wasn’t impressive, we were considered the best team to play against by our opponents as the three key expectations were clearly evident at the tourney. The 2011 Brawl in McCall was one of the best experiences I have had since getting into lacrosse. I was ecstatic when Jeff said to plan on playing on Team LAS for next year’s tournament. Now I am more determined than ever to get ready for the 2012 Brawl in McCall Lacrosse Tournament and grow the game of lacrosse!

Team LAS!

-Special thanks to Jeff and Lax All Stars for managing everything and doing what it takes to Grow The Game!