Friday, September 25, 2009

We're a Winner!

Back in June, I learned of a contest that Office Depot was holding for small business. This contest recognized small businesses nationwide for their smart survival strategies. To enter, a small business uploaded an original two-minute video explaining the smart things their business is doing to survive these challenging times.

I talked it up in the office and found a willing associate in getting together an entry. Our client and media relations director Andria Simons is an avid "contester". Maybe not quite as extreme as the character played by actress Julianne Moore in "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio," but I do know Andria has entered lots of different contests and has won quite a few prizes. She once won a stove.

Additionally, Andria is a talented video editor so she was excited about the project. And we had another willing participant to star in the video. Ambassadors Coach Lade Majic never met a camera that she didn't like.

Andria and I put together a story line where we showed Majic doing the different things that we as an organization do to save money when shopping at Office Depot. We are in that store all the time, as it is located about two blocks from our office.

We shot it in a couple of hours and Andria did a great job editing it to be under the contest maximum two minute length. My on-camera scene ended up on the cutting room floor, but the video came out great. As an experienced "contester", Andria even had suggestions for when to enter, not too early she advised so that we don't get forgotten following the expected last minute flurry of entries.

We won! Here's the finished result:

Friday, September 18, 2009

On the Road Again

Our two week training camp concluded with a pre-season game in Eaton, Colorado on September 15. Following the game, our team was divided into two touring units and early in the morning of the 16th heading out for the first two-month tours.

The Stars and Stripes unit is led by tour manager Jesse "Nephew" Whintly and show player Ashley Wilson (shown here). These two veterans are accustomed to life on the road with HA. The rest of the tour is filled with rookies who will have to learn to operate on little sleep and deal with all sorts of variables including all sorts of weather, changing lodging conditions, different gymnasiums, different floor surfaces, etc. We hope that everyone adjusts and some thrive in the "HA life", but we also know from experience that some won't make it. Homesickness is a real phenomenon, even for 27 year old males.

Stars and Stripes performed their first show of the 2009-10 season before an enthusiastic crowd in Alliance, Nebraska on September 16 and are off to a good start.

Our Red, White, and Blue unit is led by Coach Lade Majic. They departed about the same time as the other unit, but had a much further drive to get to the first show last night in Park Rapids, Minnesota. Greeted by a large, energetic crowd Red, White, and Blue also got started with a good show.

The Harlem Ambassadors not only perform basketball shows, but also visit schools presenting the message to elementary and middle school students of staying drug-free and getting a good education. Red, White, and Blue is presenting three of these programs today in Staples, Minnesota. Stars and Stripes presented three yesterday in Rapid City, South Dakota and the Rapid City Journal produced a video that you can see at this link

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Go Greyhound ... And Leave the Driving to Us!

The start of camp is always exciting. We get rookie players, hungry for an opportunity, arriving in Colorado from all over the country. As rookies, they are responsible for their own flights. Or I should say their own transportation.

Every couple of years we get a prospective performer that may have limited funds and can't make an airline flight. Going back to our second season, the highly unique Reggie "Fly" Thompson, drove in from Southern California in his van. When his brakes gave out in the mountains of Colorado, the resourceful Bahamian-born "Fly" (also nicknamed "MacGyver") simply parked his van on the side of the road, hitched a ride to an auto parts store, bought the necessary brake parts, hitched back to his van, and proceeded to give his van a brake job on the side of Interstate 70 at 8,000 feet! He arrived for training camp badly in need of soap and water, but ready to play!

Other performers have taken "the Dog" to get to camp, the Greyhound bus. We've had players travel in from Midland, Texas and from Spearfish, South Dakota on the bus. Until this season, the distance record on Greyhound was held by longtime performer Ketrick "Jazz" Copeland who arrived for his initial camp from Memphis via "the Dog".

But we have a new record this season, with a player arriving from Brunswick, Georgia on "the Dog". I will withhold his name because he might consider this embarassing. We consider it a positive sign of someone hungry for an opportunity. I looked it up. To get from Brunswick to Denver, you first ride to Savannah, and change buses. Then it's on to Atlanta, and change buses. You ride to Nashville, and change again. Next stop St. Louis and another bus change. Finally from St. Louis to Denver concluding about 2 days of riding.

That's hungry! And we respect hungry.