Note: This post is part of the "Enhanced Content" series that is currently happening all around SB Nation. These posts are focused on how technology has impacted our fan experience. It is sponsored by Samsung. I know this shocks you, given what you see on the left and right of your screen.
As I sat down to think about this topic, I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to write about.
I mean, "technology" has permeated just about every aspect of my life. From the moment I get up and check my e-mail on my phone, to the podcasts I listen to on my way to work, to the computer I spend all day using to communicate with others and be a more effective teacher, to the XBOX I play games and watch videos on when I want to unwind, I can hardly think of an aspect of my life not deeply affected by "technology."
I thought about writing about how my computer and an Internet connection have allowed me to be cheapskate and drop my digital cable, but I wanted to write about something more meaningful. So here's what I'm going to write about.
One of the amazing things about going to Washington State University is the tremendous sense of community we all experience while students there. It's the reason why, after growing up near Seattle as a lifelong UW fan, I chose to attend school in Pullman. I made one trip there as a senior in high school, and absolutely fell in love.
Many people from the city come to Pullman and see wheat fields and cow pastures. I saw a college town. I saw a place where everyone rallied around the school. I saw a place where I could walk around town after midnight and not worry about getting stabbed. I saw a place where the football stadium -- a Pac-10 football stadium! -- was right in the middle of campus.
Of course, good ol' WSU didn't disappoint. When people ask me why I love my school so much, I try to describe to them the bond that is built when 20,000 people spend about eight months cooped up in the same small town without those pesky "distractions" of big city "culture" for four (or more) years. It's something my friends who went to the University of Washington (or other urban schools) never will understand because that experience -- the one where 40,000 people commute from all over Western Washington -- is so different. If they like that, fine. But they'll never, ever be able to convince me it's better. When I look them in the eye, there's just no connection for so many of them. It was a place to get an education ... and not much more.
WSU was so much more. It was four of the best years of my life, and every time I step foot on that campus as an alum, the memories come flooding back. Problem is, I just don't get to campus often enough. Finances, family, life ... they all conspire against me. In the immediate years after my graduation -- when I moved back home to Western Washington -- I really struggled to maintain that connection. I visited often, but being stuck over here in the land of you-know-what was more than a little depressing. (It didn't help that I had forgotten how much it freaking rains -- or at least threatens to rain.)
Being a sports writer allowed me to maintain some sort of connection, but it wasn't the same. Then, I got out of sports writing all together and became a teacher. I was fortunate enough to work alongside some Cougs, but let's just say we were outnumbered. (As we always are.) I missed writing, so I did what a lot of writers do.
That started a reconnection with WSU, and with writing. Pretty soon, I was picking up readers, and after a little experiment with launching a Seattle-only site, I decided the thing I really wanted to do with my time was write about my favorite team in the whole world: the WSU basketball team. And just like that, I was back in. I was writing about the school I loved, talking about it with people who loved it as much as I did. It was wonderful. (It didn't hurt that the team made it to the Sweet 16, either.)
Then came CougCenter. And a community that I couldn't have imagined or dreamed formed before my very eyes. I've never met most of you face-to-face, yet I feel like I know so many of you. We live and die together with these teams (Husky fans, insert joke here), and part of what makes all the frustration and, at times, misery so bearable is all of you. We keep each other going -- just like we did when we lived together in Pullman. Because WSU is our place with our guys, and if we're going to be miserable, we're going to be miserable together.
So, as I think about all the ways "technology" has impacted my life, one of the most important things it's done is brought me all of you. From wherever you are, you bring me a little slice of Pullman on a daily basis. And for that, I'm truly thankful.
Now, if someone would just invent one of those things like they have on Star Trek: The Next Generation that makes a pint of beer out of nothing, my life will truly be complete.