Wow, has it really been twenty years? This is me with one of my best friends and sorority sisters, Karen, at Calico Jack’s in Tallahassee in late 1990. I was in graduate school at the time, working 30 hours a week in the Florida State Sports Information office. I remember this night. It was the Friday night before the 1990 home Florida State/Florida game. I worked the press box that game, and it was chaos at the end of the game because it was the fourth win in a row over Florida (our arch rival) and in the early part of Florida State’s 14 years finishing in the top five in the AP poll in football. My college boyfriend, a four-year starter for Florida State, was on the Green Bay Packers roster at the time, spending his fall in the great white north.
I had to work all through college; that was one of my parents’ requirements. They said they’d take care of the undergraduate tuition, room and board; I had to earn the play money. I put myself through graduate school. But I admit the jobs I had during college were pretty fun. While completing my undergraduate studies, I was a photographer for Bob Knight Photo Marketing. My job? During the Fall and Spring terms, go to fraternity and sorority socials and formals and take pictures. We got paid by the number of faces on a roll, so the socials were always the better gigs…more opportunity for large group shots. The formals naturally consisted of lots of couples shots, but I became pretty adept at the “Hey, why not join them?!” encouragement. To this day, part of me still wants to turn around when someone yells, “Bob!” May and June, I shot high school graduations, usually six weeks’ worth, one and sometimes two graduations a day depending on the location. Bob held the contract of just about every high school in Florida at the time. It was during this time that I perfected the art of changing a role of film in a split second (yes, we still used film in those days…)!
After I finished my bachelor’s degree (double in Public Relations and Broadcasting), I went to work full-time for a year for the PR firm that I had interned with. It specialized in travel and tourism clients, so I wrote press kits and had the arduous task of taking writers on trips to the properties we represented. Tough gig, huh! After that year, I went back to grad school and got the job at Florida State. You know, I worked for peanuts, but man I loved that job! I wrote feature stories for the game-day magazines and edited a couple of the media guides; I worked either in the press box or in Coach Bowden’s box during football games; I typed play-by-play at the mens’ basketball games (called by my most excellent friend Nick Gandy…we had so much fun, and I really knew my way around a basketball court in those days…); and I worked a lot of the womens' softball games. Since softball is a non-revenue sport, that role consisted of keeping the official book and serving as the P.A. announcer at the games, most of which were double headers, and then going back to the office after the day’s games to write the press release and get it out to the media. Those were some LONG days. But still, I loved every minute of that job. I worked with some really, really great people, most of whom I’m still in contact with today via Facebook.
My crowning glory while I worked for Florida State was researching, writing and compiling Florida State’s very first set of trading cards, which debuted in 1991. I spent hours and hours digging through old filing cabinets (several of them in the mens’ basketball locker room bathroom…go figure), pulling files and pictures and writing short bios. The set included twenty Bobby Bowden cards, one for each year he had been with the team at that point, and since Coach Bowden was famous for his trick plays, I wrote about different trick plays on the back of each of his cards. As I was getting down to deadline, there were three players I badly wanted that I still had not heard back from: Fred Biletnikoff, Robert Urich, and LeRoy Butler (yes, both Robert Urich and Burt Reynolds played football for Florida State). That day I had left messages everywhere I could think of and actually heard back from all three of them at home that night. My roommate was a guy at the time (not a boyfriend, just dealing with some stalker issues so I needed a male roommate, and that’s a whole other story), and he couldn’t believe I talked to Fred Biletnikoff, Robert Urich and LeRoy Butler all in the same night. LeRoy’s call was actually the most entertaining. Like Stan, Leroy was also on the Green Bay roster at the time and, unlike Stan, he actually got to play! LeRoy was the inventor of the Lambeau Leap! We went to school together and had a great time catching up. I distinctly remember him telling me how proud of himself he was that he was actually learning how to cook. :-) Anywho, that still stands as one of my professional projects that I am most proud of. And look, you can find the cards on eBay now! Just search Florida State trading cards. The first edition was 1991. The publisher gave me the uncut press sheets which I have framed and in storage at home; that’ll be something my girls can take on Antiques Roadshow one day!
Twenty years, seems like yesterday. Karen has two girls now, too, 11 and 14, and we still keep in touch regularly. When I popped this picture up on Facebook for her, she said, “Man, that’s a lot of teeth!” Check out Tia's blog for more Flashback Fridays!