Four years ago

“And you remember… you’re a sports guy.” -High school year book signature from a senior classmate

Four years ago, I didn’t know what I was doing. That argument could be made now to a lesser degree, but four years ago, I was really just unsure of what I wanted to do with school and life. A quarter-and-a-half into the computer science major, I was beginning to think that wasn’t the right choice. My identity as math and science kid growing up in addition to a moderate degree of nerdiness led me to believe that comp sci would be right up my alley. Well…

I had thought writing would be something I could do, but I never wrote non-academically. I was a relatively poor writer until I hit high school and started to learn how to not suck, which took a handful of years until I could crank out a paper without much stress and do well enough on it. I hadn’t truly written in months, with the exception of just a group term paper the previous quarter, so the rust on such budding talent

On a lark, I texted Evan Ream and asked if he would be interested in a dramatic endeavor: starting a sports blog. Pretty sure our intent was to more or less shoot the shit with a “Why not? Might as well” mentality. I’m sure there was copious amounts of bullshitting and saying stupid (sadly, this all transpired via text, not Facebook chat. I looked through mine and Evan’s entire chat history, and history was not made there) things, but we ultimately decided that this was something we should try. Dylan Jamaal Davis was added within minutes.

We needed a name. I had no idea. Dylan had no idea. Evan had one completely immature, innuendo-laden idea courtesy of Matt Zavortink: “The SACK Lunch.” It was kind of stupid. It’s still kind of stupid. I thought it was so out of nowhere that I figured it would work to a degree, spinning posts as lunches for every day. It worked out. It made a modicum of sense. So, we rolled with “The SACK Lunch Blog.” I tried to keep the capitalization of “SACK” out of official channels as to make it seem not completely immature. Steven Gordon provided the indelible logo.

It was a slow burn with traffic, amount of content and our general ability. Feast your eyes on some of the quality posts we wrote early on. LOOK UPON THEM. It makes me cringe. It’s hard to believe that our writing has changed so much in over 1400 days (in a completely good way). I don’t know how our site with its old format didn’t catch on in a bigger way.

While things slowed down that summer, after I moved back to Davis, we picked it up in the fall, adding Nick Gallaudet to our typical rotation, nailing down a schedule. Evan’s brother Matt contributed here and there since the beginning. Brent Pella chimed in with a column every now and then. Russell Jordan and his short-lived segment “Russell’s Corner” was hilarious, but he also penned a well-done letter following the 2011 Gold Cup Final in which the stadium atmosphere was hostile for U.S. supporters, drawing the most traffic we’ve ever had with over 14,000 views. While success was not particularly amazing compared to hundreds of other blogs, it was enough to land some sick radio segments on KDVS. It was enough that people in town, slightly beyond our expanded social circle, read our stuff, and that was pretty cool. While we would have preferred more, it was enough for us.

The site went on for a short while but faded after a year and half or so: I got into USC and wrote for publications down there; Evan became sports editor of his school paper; Dylan and Nick worked more. We all went our separate ways, writing wise, although three of the four of us are still in town (not this writer).

I had to fill out a tagline for the site, and I couldn’t help but think of something other than the semi-cheesy:

A few Davis friends talk about the sports we love – soccer, football, baseball, and basketball.

Some acknowledgements, as well as my favorite and/or best piece by each writer, whether for TSL or otherwise (please ignore the novice editing and formatting on my part):

Russell: You never cease to crack me up, even if you say ridiculous things on such a regular basis.

Brent: Always appreciated your pieces, but even more so your videos.

Matt: The soccer knowledge you possess is about 1513 times mine, and I admire you for that.

Nick: You’re a good guy and one of the classiest sports fans I know who shares a mutual love of a man named Peyton. We should hang out more.

Dylan: Jamaal, we’ve been through a lot. Evan always thought you had the most potential in writing, and I was amazed how easily you could churn out 1,500 coherent words in a story.

Evan: To my promoter and the person whom I’ll always edit. I’m glad to see where we both ended up, as you’re doing actual journalism more often than I am. Keep up the good work. I don’t expect my paycheck anytime soon, but sometime before I’m 30 would be nice.

We’re still friends who talk about the sports we love (even if that has faded to a degree). As Evan pointed out today, it’s why he’s at the Davis Enterprise and why I’m at Reuters. Thanks for following us, everyone. I promise to never stop annoyingly flooding your news feeds with my writing. Would you want it any other way?

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