We’ll get back to the business of brackets and Who Won States? shortly enough. I thought I should pass this along as a note about what we’ve done, what we want to do, and how it’s going to happen — as soon as Saturday night’s #SaveTheDate fundraiser/season-ending celebration, and, less importantly, my recently turning 50, as I could not have a party on that night (it was Day 2 of regions). The email I wrote all the coaches in the Northeast and Northwest coverage area follows.
Good morning Coaches,
I recognize many of you are still on a well-deserved holiday and may not get this before tomorrow night’s Matmen fundraiser at Your Pie in Fleming Island (6:30-10 p.m.). Some of you just started your holiday, others are well into it (some – like a certain Tally coach of note – aren’t even in country right now).
It’s been a fun year, a trying year at times, and a – from a purely web-based standpoint – successful year.
When frustration gets to me – as it sometimes has, as one or two of you unfortunately found out (for which I apologize) – it is hard to remember that just three years ago at this time:
- Other than a season-preview, a perfunctory post-season preview, states coverage handled by out-of-town writers, and an all-area team that wasn’t always the most-informed, there was no wrestling in the Jacksonville-area daily newspaper. Almost ever.
- There was no place to go to learn about an upcoming opponent on the schedule – who’d they wrestled, what was happening with that team.
- There was no archive of results for in-season matches during the year. Anywhere in Florida, that I’ve seen.
- There was no live coverage of duals or IBTs during the season.
- There were no area rankings done during the season.
- There was no offseason coverage anywhere.
- There was no recurring notebook on local wrestlers competing collegiately.
- There was no place for youth wrestling results anywhere.
Today, we have all of these things and more.
We have – between the two sites that have been built – more than 500,000 page views. I’ve been advised if the sites were arranged under a different “theme,” where individual articles required separate clicks, I would have more than triple this view count – and maybe more than that, even.
I have taken the site as far as one person with limited financial and time resources can take it. But it must continue to evolve and improve, because there are still so many things that could be done, such as:
- Full-length story coverage of all duals and IBTs.
- Live-action photography taken at those events.
- Video footage, sprinkled in.
- Live-streaming of events like Uncivil War or post-season tournaments, with commentary from a “play-by-play” announcer and “color commentator.”
- #NextLevel collegiate notebooks to appear in timely fashion throughout the season.
- Coverage of middle-school events.
- More coverage of offseason events, particularly on-site coverage of Disney Duals.
- These things would all bring about more media attention from the major media players, like the Times-Union, area TV & radio stations, and the like, who cover (almost) every other sport better than they do wrestling.
When I started this three years ago, it was just about seeing kids get covered who weren’t. We’ve done that. That continues to be our primary mission. But it does not have to be the only mission. We can do so much more with the Jacksonville and surrounding communities than what we are doing.
The mission, going forward, is to aggressively expand our territory in the following ways:
- To ambitiously become the dominant media source and information archive of wrestling in north Florida – if not even the entire state as a whole. We are not a message board, and never will be. We don’t need to be. Information is our message. The kids’ effort is our message.
- To be a vehicle to assist area programs with vital fundraising needs and grow the sport through expertise and connections with media.
- To help train the next generation of young people interested in sports media as a career.
- To put our brand on a par with similar wrestling sites/publications such as Illinois Matmen in Illinois, The Predicament in Iowa or The Guillotine in Minnesota.
Good wrestlers in north Florida know that, in order to get better, they have to seek out new challenges. Doing the same thing, week after week, season after season, leads to the same result. Iron sharpens iron. And so it is, to a similar extent, with what we are doing. We want the site you visit to be elite, not ordinary. We want it to provide you with everything you could want about area wrestling, not a few things. But there are some things we still insist upon. We insist on staying humble by providing free content. We insist on respect and integrity by avoiding message boards that do everything to advance the commenters’ agendas and comparatively nothing to advance the kids.
To do all of this is not impossible. But it cannot be done by myself, or even a few people, alone. We all who have the ability to make it great can, and should, take steps to make it happen. That first step, for many, is our first fundraiser Saturday night. If you like what we’ve done, or you’re excited about what we’re hoping to accomplish, or (ideally) both, please – if you’re in the area – bring your significants, your wrestlers and their families. This is as much a celebration of you and them as anything else.
For the Northwest folks, we would welcome you also – but we recognize how far it is, and we’ll be working to put something similar together out your way before the end of the school year. We’d welcome your input on that.
We’re only just getting started.
AND THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR READERSHIP — WITHOUT IT, WE CAN DO NOTHING.