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I conceive and execute sports creative projects, play in bands, and like a lot of other stuff, too.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Stars in College Hockey Country

This post originally appeared in the Blotch section of the Fort Worth Weekly's website. To consume it there : https://www.fwweekly.com/2017/10/17/sports-rush-stars-in-college-hockey-country/


Brad Berry played in the Dallas Stars organization for a number of years, including a couple of seasons in Minnesota, several with the top farm club in Kalamazoo, and the team’s inaugural season in Dallas. The former defenseman has since returned to his alma mater, the University of North Dakota, as the head coach. He won a national championship two years ago in his first season as the man in charge and has his group off to a 3-0-1 start this season.



We interviewed Berry, who bore some stitches above his right eye thanks to a wayward practice puck, after his team had just finished sweeping a pair of games from the St. Lawrence Saints. Before the Saturday game, the program honored the 1986-87 team that won a national title. A number of the players from that squad had returned to campus to enjoy a reunion, including a pair who also won a Stanley Cup with the Stars: Ed Belfour and Tony Hrkac. That North Dakota team, in fact, became known as “The Hrkac Circus,” as they set scoring records and became the first college hockey team to record 40 wins in a season. 
Rush Olson interviews Brad Berry
photo by Tom Fireoved
Coach Berry commented on what it meant to have that team return to the ice, both for him and his players. I also asked him about the hockey experience at the Ralph Englestad Arena. It was my first time to visit the facility and it is a remarkable place to watch a game. Impressive physical features include marble floors and padded seats, and they have a row of suites and a couple of clubs with a view of the action. The crowd is into it, with chants and gestures and a band. In the interview, Berry compared it to a college football atmosphere and I agree with him. At the second intermission, the band even plays as they march around the concourse. A hockey fan might want to put a North Dakota game on his or her bucket list.


Rush Olson has spent two decades directing creative efforts for sports teams and broadcasters. He currently creates ad campaigns, television programs, and related creative projects for sports entities through Rush Olson Creative & Sports, Mint Farm Films, and FourNine Productions.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

A Voice Lives On

This post originally appeared in the Blotch section of the Fort Worth Weekly's website. To consume it there : https://www.fwweekly.com/2017/10/03/sports-rush-a-voice-lives-on/

I only met the man in person once.

The meetup came at the Dallas Stars’ media day in September, 2015. The team had just hired Dave Strader as its play-by-play announcer and he had come over to Frisco’s Dr Pepper Arena to observe the goings-on. I chatted with him and his new broadcast partner, Daryl Reaugh. The whole conversation might have lasted a minute. I remember Dave being nice and then I went on to whatever other production duties had presented themselves.

I re-connected with Dave earlier this year. The Stars announcer was scheduled to join his radio counterparts from the Mavericks, Rangers, and Cowboys to swap stories and raise money for charities. I had taken on some producing duties for this event, called Talk of the Town, and needed to work with him on the show. What made it tricky was that we didn’t know if he would be there.

Since I had last seen Dave Strader, the Hockey Hall of Fame had honored his broadcasting excellence by naming him the 2017 recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award. Dave had also contracted cholangiocarcinoma, a punishing cancer of the bile duct.

We had shot funny (I hope) promotional videos with Eric Nadel, Brad Sham, and Chuck Cooperstein to promote the event. Dave didn’t get to participate in those because he was undergoing treatment. But he retweeted and promoted and did everything he could to support his fellow broadcasters, the event, and the charity he had chosen to benefit from it, the Dallas Stars Foundation.

We had discussed trying to have him participate live via an electronic connection if we could work out the technical details, but I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect and what kind of strength he would have. Then, shortly before the event, we found out good news: Dave would be well enough to fly in and attend the event.

We needed to add his elements to the program. I had collected play-by-play excerpts for all the other announcers and now I got to ask Dave what he wanted. He asked for a Red Wings call, his last as a team broadcaster for that Original Six team. A connection helped me get that from Detroit. He also sent us a voicemail recording sportscasting icon Marv Albert had left him after the Foster Hewitt announcement.

Then, abruptly, Dave’s treatment schedule changed. He wouldn’t be able to make it to Dallas for Talk of the Town. But he felt he would be strong enough to join via Skype if we could make the technical details work (which, luckily, we could). And that evening, we dialed him up and found out he indeed was very much robust enough to connect and contribute.

I had Dave make his entrance in the middle of the program because I wasn’t sure of his stamina. I wish I had dropped him from the beginning, because he gave a fantastic performance. He told great stories, interacted with his fellows, and gave the audience one of the best memories of any charity event I’ve ever worked. I’ll never forget how moved the table of Dallas Stars employees seemed when he appeared on the video screen. When he signed off, they and the rest of the crowd gave him a well-deserved standing ovation.
Talk of the Town might have been the last time he got to use his voice in a live broadcast-style setup to entertain sports fans. It seemed to truly energize him and I think that makes all of us who took part in it feel pretty good.

I had one other regret from the evening. When we were talking about calls to find, Dave had written this: “I would love to have the call of Jamie Benn’s OT goal from Feb 18…my first game game back after my cancer diagnosis. I would also like the clip of Razor’s comment as the players skated over to salute me at the end of the game.”

In hindsight, I desperately wish I had made the extra effort to include that call, which due to exigent circumstances that week, was more of a challenge that it normally would have been. I remember thinking that I would for sure use it for next year’s event, when he would hopefully make a triumphant in-person appearance.

That won’t happen now. Dave Strader died Sunday.

I only met Dave the one time, and communicated with him via email, phone, and Skype a bit. Yet somehow his passing resonated deeply. It didn’t require much exposure to the man to see his passion for people and a deep-seated fervor for life.

Many Stars fans (and those of the other teams for whom he called games) never had the pleasure of meeting Dave even once, but I bet they could tell the same things I could, thanks to the zeal with which Dave broadcast hockey games (and the other sports he did as well).

Many in the hockey business called Dave Strader “The Voice.” Luckily, his voice will live on in the work he did and the calls you’ll be able to listen to online and in hockey shows for years to come. And in the memories of those who knew him, even just a little bit.



Rush Olson has spent two decades directing creative efforts for sports teams and broadcasters. He currently creates ad campaigns, television programs, and related creative projects for sports entities through Rush Olson Creative & Sports, Mint Farm Films, and FourNine Productions.

RushOlson.com
Linkedin.com/company/rush-olson-creative-&-sports
Facebook.com/RushOlsonCreativeandSports

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Sidney at 60 - Still Making Things Happen

This post originally appeared in the Blotch section of the Fort Worth Weekly's website. To consume it there : https://www.fwweekly.com/2017/09/27/sports-rush-sidney-turns-sixty-in-style/



Sidney Moncrief became a basketball legend helping the Arkansas Razorbacks to the 1978 Final Four and leading a Milwaukee Bucks team that was one of the NBA’s best during the 1980s. Moncrief could change a game in any number ways. He could hit the big shot. He rebounded as well or better than any guard who ever played. And the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year could have an impact when his team didn’t have the ball, too.

In retirement, he has had careers in business, in coaching, and in philanthropic pursuits. Moncrief had the latter on his mind as he celebrated his 60th birthday this past week. He created a series of events in his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas revolving around the charity he and his wife, Takisha, have named Moncrief GameChanger. Friday, they held a gala fundraiser that doubled as a birthday party. The event at the Arkansas Arts Center included live and silent auctions and featured appearances by former teammates and coaches like Ron Brewer, Marvin Delph, Del Harris, and Junior Bridgeman.

The next day, they held a career readiness seminar for high school and college students at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. You’ll see images of the facility in the video interview that is the centerpiece of this post. It houses a museum of Arkansas’s African-American history and its dark wood interior provided a welcoming backdrop. Business professionals gave the young people tips on preparing for the workforce through various presentations and breakout sessions.

That afternoon, the Moncriefs and several local coaching legends joined a couple of Sidney’s brothers to put on a shooting clinic at Philander Smith College. They shared advice on basketball and life.
The Moncriefs will do more career readiness forums in Little Rock in October and December and plan to bring the program to North Texas as soon as possible.


Rush Olson has spent two decades directing creative efforts for sports teams and broadcasters. He currently creates ad campaigns, television programs, and related creative projects for sports entities through Rush Olson Creative & Sports, Mint Farm Films, and FourNine Productions.

RushOlson.com
Linkedin.com/company/rush-olson-creative-&-sports
Facebook.com/RushOlsonCreativeandSports

Thursday, September 21, 2017

On the Court For A Good Cause

This post originally appeared in the Blotch section of the Fort Worth Weekly's website. To consume it there : https://www.fwweekly.com/2017/09/19/sports-rush-court-sports-for-a-good-cause/

Donald Young, 28, won a tennis tournament Saturday. He and doubles partner Justin Whitman triumphed in the final and received trophies. Young has played on the ATP Tour since 2004 and won 115 professional matches, but this performance earned him no ranking points. So why did one of the top American players – a man who’s been ranked as high as 38th in the world – come to Dallas to play this event? He did it for basketball and a good cause.



Saturday at SMU, the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation held its second annual Pro Celebrity Tennis Classic. The fundraiser began with a dinner event and auction the evening before and continued with the open-to-the-public tennis tourney Sunday. A group of celebrities  included non-tennis professional athletes like J.J. Barea and Mike Modano; former tour players like Mark Knowles, Andy Roddick, and Benjamin Becker; and, for good measure, actor Owen Wilson (who has a decent forehand). A dozen amateurs made sizable donations to the foundation for the privilege of playing with and against those luminaries. Each amateur and pro accumulated wristbands as they won tie-breakers with different partners, with two of each with the most bands meeting in the final. Young and Whitman defeated Barea and Jim McKinney in that last match.

In this video interview, Young talks about the whys and hows of playing in such a setting, and also touches on what the U.S. women’s showing at the recent U.S Open (four Americans reached the semi-finals) means for the sport in this country.


Rush Olson has spent two decades directing creative efforts for sports teams and broadcasters. He currently creates ad campaigns, television programs, and related creative projects for sports entities through Rush Olson Creative & Sports, Mint Farm Films, and FourNine Productions.

RushOlson.com
Linkedin.com/company/rush-olson-creative-&-sports
Facebook.com/RushOlsonCreativeandSports

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Seth Curry on Golf, Hoops, and Entrepreneurship for Kids

This post originally appeared in the Blotch section of the Fort Worth Weekly's website. To consume it there : https://www.fwweekly.com/2017/09/13/sports-rush-seth-curry-on-hoops-golf-and-entrepreneurship/

In the last couple of seasons, Seth Curry has started to make an impact on the NBA and the Mavericks will count on him as a contributor when they begin play next month. Dallas signed the guard before the 2016-17 season after he had some solid games the previous year with Sacramento. One reason Curry improved as a King was coaching he received from assistant coach Nancy Lieberman. Tuesday, he visited her and other celebrities at her charity golf tournament. Proceeds from the Nancy Lieberman Charities Celebrity Golf Classic go toward scholarships, and Curry also started an education-related initiative to help young people learn about business and entrepreneurship.



In this video interview, we asked him about golf, including his brother Steph’s foray onto the Web.com Tour this summer. Check out the video of Seth’s golf swing – he looked pretty smooth. We also talked about his new charitable program.

Rush Olson has spent two decades directing creative efforts for sports teams and broadcasters. He currently creates ad campaigns, television programs, and related creative projects for sports entities through Rush Olson Creative & Sports, Mint Farm Films, and FourNine Productions.

RushOlson.com
Linkedin.com/company/rush-olson-creative-&-sports
Facebook.com/RushOlsonCreativeandSports

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Ron Thulin on the Dallas Wings

This post originally appeared in the Blotch section of the Fort Worth Weekly's website. To consume it there : https://www.fwweekly.com/2017/09/05/sports-rush-state-of-the-wings-with-ron-thulin/

The Dallas Wings have made the postseason in their second year playing in Arlington. Ron Thulin has called their games for both of those seasons on Fox Sports Southwest and the play-by-play man is excited about the team’s prospects for the upcoming WNBA playoffs, and also the future.

In this video interview, Ron and I discussed the team’s youth, depth, and the possibility of acquiring Australian Olympian Liz Cambage.






The Wings will play the Washington Mystics in D.C. Wednesday, with television coverage by ESPN2. If they win that game, they’ll move on to play another single-elimination contest at either New York or Connecticut. Minnesota or Los Angeles await in a best-of-five series after that.




Rush Olson has spent two decades directing creative efforts for sports teams and broadcasters. He currently creates ad campaigns, television programs, and related creative projects for sports entities through Rush Olson Creative & Sports, Mint Farm Films, and FourNine Productions.

RushOlson.com
Linkedin.com/company/rush-olson-creative-&-sports
Facebook.com/RushOlsonCreativeandSports

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Baseball Decisions Are Complicated

This post originally appeared in the Blotch section of the Fort Worth Weekly's website. To consume it there : https://www.fwweekly.com/2017/08/31/sports-rush-a-baseball-firestorm/

2017’s original baseball schedule had the Rangers and Astros playing this Tuesday-Thursday in Houston. Hurricane Harvey forced the Astros to move those games. Reports indicate Houston proposed playing this week’s games at Globe Lift Park in Arlington and the Rangers would then come to Houston for three late September games currently scheduled for Arlington.

The Rangers offered to play all six games in Arlington, with Houston being designated the home team this week and receiving all the revenue from the contests, which they could then pocket or donate. The Astros declined that option, which was their option as the home team, worried, apparently, about affecting the competitive balance of the games. The Rangers expressed concerns about compromising their ticket buyers who held seats for the late September games and would have little notice to change their own schedules. They also were likely concerned about the 12-game road trip with which they would have been left in September during a potentially crucial competitive period.

The Rangers have come under a great deal of criticism for their stance, with many apparently believing the most compassionate response would have been to swap the series.
Here are some factors that could have been considered in making the decision about the games and in evaluating that decision afterward.

The Business Side
If you want to maximize the total number of fans who will see the six total games remaining between the teams, as Major League Baseball might, you play all the games in Arlington, because rescheduled games always draw poorly, as do neutral-site games.

If you want to inconvenience only one fan base instead of two, you leave the September games in Arlington. The Houston fans already, though no fault of their own, have no way to go to a ballgame in their town during the early part of this week. From my experience in teams’ front offices, I can tell you that the argument that most fans holding tickets to the September games won’t use them for rescheduled weeknight games a few days notice is a legitimate one. Hurricane Harvey forced Astros fans to miss games for which they held tickets, Should it force Rangers fans to do the same?
Even if one rescheduled September’s games for Houston, there is substantial question as to how many fans would be able to make the games even by that point, given the large number of people whose lives were substantially disrupted. Monday-Wednesday games during the school year are a tough draw anyway.

If you want to maximize the amount of money raised for the relief efforts, you play the three games this week in Arlington. You’ll draw home fans and those who had to relocate from South Texas. You won’t draw much at all in Florida. Whether you donate gate receipts or simply collect donations, you’ll get more for the victims playing in Arlington. So if that’s your priority, you play the games there no matter what happens in September.

The Baseball Side
Playing this week’s games in Arlington would place the Houston players closer to their families than any out-of-state option. If one considers this a crucial factor, given how recently the disaster happened, one plays those games in North Texas no matter what deal one has to make.
It is a virtual certainty the Astros will make the 2017 postseason. The Rangers still face challenges to do so. Strictly from a competitive standpoint, that would seem to indicate that the Arlington team should be the one to get the on-field advantage here if one is to be had. Many have said the Rangers will be out of the race by the end of September, but you simply cannot make that assumption with so many games left to play.

Related to the business-side items above, what advantage does playing at home confer? Getting to bat last is one, but that can be easily changed for a given series. Being more familiar with the angles of the home park is another, and while that’s not irrelevant, Houston is at least as familiar with Globe Life Park as any other facility other than their own because they share a division with the Rangers and therefore play multiple series there each season. The other advantage conferred is playing in front of a home crowd. A rescheduled series would result in small home attendance numbers for the Rangers this week, so they wouldn’t get much of the home crowd advantage. Houston would be likely to have tiny draws as well for a late-added September series, but they’d have a month to prepare. If the Rangers drew 10,000 (probably a generous estimate) to this week’s games and the Astros draw 15,000 each in September, the latter have effectively used the disaster to give themselves a competitive advantage if one believes fan support aids winning.

You could play a series this week in Minute Maid Park without fans. The field was apparently playable, so if you’re all about competitive balance and you won’t draw good crowds no matter where you play, make special arrangements to do it there. It’s not a good solution, and would probably be harder than it sounds, but it solves the issue of park dimensions and at least makes the crowd a neutral factor. The Astros will, in fact, play the Mets there this weekend.

You could also play this week’s games at a minor league or college ballpark in Texas or Oklahoma. The Frisco Roughriders and Round Rock Express had schedule conflicts, but swapping minor league series is less of a big deal than swapping big league ones, so those parks could be freed up. If you’re not going to draw well anyway, the smaller capacities wouldn’t matter.

If maintaining competitive balance is all-important here, and business considerations are to be put out the window, and if we decide that a 12-game road trip late in the season is unduly hurtful to the Rangers’ chance, then get a third team involved. Have the out-of-the-running A’s flip their September 22-24 home series with the Rangers for the one currently scheduled in Arlington for September 28-30. Then you move the Rangers’ series with the Astros to Houston and still give Texas a balance of home and road games. That’s incredibly disruptive from a business standpoint, but if all you’re concerned about is the on-field stuff, that solves that issue.

Summary
Both teams no doubt balanced competitive considerations with fan-related and community-related ones. The situation is a lot more nuanced than knee-jerk criticism would indicate.



Rush Olson has spent two decades directing creative efforts for sports teams and broadcasters. He currently creates ad campaigns, television programs, and related creative projects for sports entities through Rush Olson Creative & Sports, Mint Farm Films, and FourNine Productions.

RushOlson.com
Linkedin.com/company/rush-olson-creative-&-sports
Facebook.com/RushOlsonCreativeandSports

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