Texas Pro Soccer Festival Journal: Days One & Two

Soccerlens editor Eddie Griffin is in San Antonio covering the Texas Pro Soccer Fest, a pre-season tournament / training camp for MLS teams DC United, Chivas USA, Toronto FC and defending MLS champions, Houston Dynamo.

Now that I finally have a chance to really sit down and knock something out, I have a few tips for those who may be aspiring journalists, when it comes to covering extended a large-scale event.

1) Have long legs, and if you don’t have long legs, get stilts. Short legs don’t do you any good when you have to get somewhere, and get somewhere fast, to keep up with someone, or to get an interview before your target gets away.

2) A notebook, several pens, and a voice recorder come in handy, both for handling interviews, but to keep track of every piece of information you’ll need. And as for what you’ll need, well, even what you think you won’t need, you will, because it’ll come in handy one way or another.

3) If there are shaky moments, try not to get rattled, and most of all, enjoy the experience, and make it all that it can be, not just for your stories, but for yourself personally. If you’re in the right mindset, then it’ll reflect in your coverage.

The first two (very hectic) days that I’ve been here covering the Texas Pro Soccer Festival have been the closest thing I’ll ever get to on-the-job training besides internships. In case you didn’t get a chance to check out the preview I did a couple of weeks ago, the TPSF is a week-long event here in the San Antonio area, with MLS teams Houston Dynamo, D.C. United, Chivas USA, and Toronto FC playing each other in a series of three doubleheaders, along with having open training at a local soccer facility.

I didn’t find out about the chance to cover the event until Saturday, but it was enough time for me and my fiancee Iris, or the Dynamic Duo (she’s doing photos and video), to get ready and miraculously not forget anything.

Herein lies an added tip, not just for your career, but for life: If you’ve got a great significant other in your life, it makes a lot of things easier, and keeps you sane, especially when you have to run around like a headless chicken.

We got to San Antonio Monday afternoon, and made it to the hotel around 2:45, which proved to be a little early, as the staff hadn’t had the chance to clean out the recently-vacated rooms.

Almost as soon as we got settled in (Iris got a quick nap), we had to leave again, as we went to check out the facilities for this week’s events and to meet Jason Cronkhite, who’s ‘the man’ this week. A special shout-out to him, as he’s working very hard this week to make a lot of things happen, and deserves a lot of credit – and a two-week vacation to the Bahamas.

The Dynamic Duo didn’t take into consideration the potential for it to be cold and windy, and thusly didn’t have a shield to protect us from the whipping wind as we took the tour of the facilities. Thank goodness for press boxes.

The week’s exhibition matches are going to be held at an area high school stadium, and seeing as how it’s been only about five years since Iris and I finished up with high school, it was a little strange in that environment again. That may well be due to the fact that we still both could pass for high school students. I’m not really sure if that’s a good thing…

After finishing our meeting with Jason, we got back to our room, and I’d intended on getting the first entry for the week up then, but after only getting a minimal amount of work done, my eyes and my body forced me to call it a night early. When you’re operating on only a few hours of sleep and have an entire week still to go, it’s best to get that good night of sleep so you don’t run the risk of burnout.

On Tuesday morning, we woke up bright and early to head out to the teams’ morning practice. After Tuesday’s practices wrapped up, I got to meet D.C. United coach Tom Soehn and star forward Jaime Moreno. Admittedly, I’ll follow the MLS a lot more after this event than before, but I’ve always followed D.C. United, so it was pretty nice to meet Moreno.

Tip #34523847: Always remember that the person that you’re interviewing is (most of the time) as interested to talk to you as you are to them.

Since the teams didn’t practice in the afternoon, I got to catch up on some work and watch some exciting Champions League action. While I was pretty happy with the United result, I was just as happy to see Fenerbahce go through. Here is where I’d usually be doing the roundups from the CL action, so I hope you’re not missing my recaps too much.

Last night, we headed to an event at a local Mexican restaurant owned by twin brothers and former pro soccer players Carlos and Gabe Garcia. Everything was delicious, from the tacos to the margaritas – I’ve had a few of those in my day, and theirs might have been the best. Whenever we make it back here, that’s definitely a place we’ll be going again.

The night ended earlier than most of the nights I’ve had that involved drinking, but that’s because there’s plenty to be done today, including the first of three doubleheaders tonight, with D.C. United taking on Chivas USA, and Houston Dynamo playing Toronto FC.

One of the highlights of the time here thus far, besides being able to meet a lot of new people, getting the chance to cover my first professional event, and getting to spend some time with my better half is, well, the food. From the tacos, to shrimp as big as my head, and heavenly hamburgers, my taste buds have been treated well.

It’s been a packed few days so far, but today, the real action starts. I’ll be checking in more often throughout the week with highlights and observations from here in San Antonio.

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