Columnist Kriens bids farewell, remarks on fun five years

Travis Kriens


Editor’s Note: Travis Kriens has been an important part of The Collegian and its sports columns. We thank him for his hard work over the years.

My first story in The Collegian had the dateline, May 2, 2007. It was about the annual spring football game that had taken place that past weekend. It was the second time I had been in the press box at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, the first being a game earlier that season in which the sports information department needed extra help with a football game since a wrestling tournament was going on in Frost Arena at the same time. That was my first taste at what my next five years would look like.

After the scrimmage, I tracked down Sports Information Director Jason Hove to see if he had any final stats that I could use in my story. On the way up to his office, he asked me if I was doing anything that summer. I was not and jumped at the chance to be a part of the SDSU athletic department.

As my freshman year came to an end a week later, I received a call from Jason asking if I was around for an interview. I had just moved back home for summer vacation the day before. We scheduled an interview a few days later and I started my four-and-a-half years in the SID department in late August 2007.

Ventures into newspapers, media relations, radio and television led me to my internship with the Charlotte Bobcats this season. When I look back on where I was, nearly five years ago to the day to where I am now, it is something else. The games come and go. The stories are written. The shows are broadcast. When those are done, they become memories that you look back on with joy or disappointment.

Almost every ex-athlete will tell you the thing they miss the most is their teammates. Not the games, the practices or the travel. They miss the bond with the people that they make along the way and the same goes for me. I have met quite a few people over the past five years that helped me get to where I am now and have joined me along the way.

• Being a student assistant in the SDSU SID office is the best job I have ever had and it will probably be tough to top. Jason Hove and Ryan Sweeter were great to work for and taught me a ton over the years. Anyone that has had the chance to work with or for them would say the same.

• My counterparts in the marketing department as graduate assistants were Blake Day and Emily Kuecker. Blake knows more about the NFL Draft than any person I know. Emily is one of the nicest people you will ever meet, along with being one of the easiest people to talk to ever. They are great people and wherever they go and whatever they do in their careers, I have no doubt that they will be very successful.

• My bosses at the Charlotte Bobcats, B.J. Evans and Josh Rosen, gave me the opportunity to see how things run in the NBA and I will have stories that I can tell for the rest of my life from what I have experienced over the last four months.

• When I moved to Charlotte, I formed new relationships that were similar to the ones I had in Brookings. Jessica James was the fellow intern that I shared an office with. She’s completely opposite from me in nearly every way imaginable, but somehow it worked out. In no other place or situation would we have been around each other or gotten to know each other like we did. Mark Kern was the multimedia intern that wrote game recaps and previews for In a group of interns that grew up in the Carolinas region, Mark grew up in Kansas and had a background similar to mine. The whole experience would have been a lot less rewarding without these two.

• Charlie Hildebrand, Drue Aman and Marcus Traxler comprised three-fourths of The Sports Lounge TV set with me for the majority of the year long, 40 plus episode run that we had. I met Charlie when he started working with me during the summer of 2010 and our conversations in the office were usually the highlight of the day. Drue and Marcus have both been fellow writers with me at The Collegian, as well as editors of the sports section. They are two of the most talented writers I have been around during my time at the paper and believe me, I have seen a lot of them come and go.

• Nathan Stacken was co-creator of the TV and radio shows. He may be the most passionate sports fan I have seen and if he had it his way, he would do a show every day. Doing the TV show and being around those guys is the most fun I have had over the last five years.

• Dustin Veurink was also a part of the Sports Lounge, behind the scenes as a member of the production crew during the first season. Dustin became the jack of all trades: camera man, audio technician, director and recorder. Without him, the show doesn’t run.

• Lowell Haag and Tami Watson were unbelievably helpful in getting The Sports Lounge up and going. From scheduling times to shoot the show on the third floor of Pugsley to little technical things, they made sure we were able to get the show running. My college advisor, Jim Paulson, taught me a lot about how the television news industry works and aided in turning the TV show into a finished product.

• Radio was something I also wanted to try and I got to experience a wide variety. The first time I met the future voice of SDSU athletics, Tyler Merriam, he was working in the SID department just like I was. The biggest thing he did for me was giving me the opportunity to be the play-by-play guy for SDSU softball during the 2011 season with broadcasts on along with a half dozen or so games on Brookings radio. I had done a handful of softball/baseball games the previous season, but was given full reign for 2011. It was always something I wanted to try and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

• On the Sports Block radio show, we were fortunate to have the Argus Leader’s SDSU beat writer Terry Vandrovec call in every week and he was tremendous each time.

• Doing an hour of radio with the head football coach at a Division I University on the student station for two seasons is something that just doesn’t happen, but that’s what John Stiegelmeier did. Stig could have gone home and spent an extra hour with his wife at night or do anything else with his time during the season where there isn’t much free time, but he chose do radio once a week for an hour with me, Charlie and Nathan. He is truly one of the good guys.

• My parents, Lee and Lee Ann Kriens have supported me with everything I have wanted to do. Not seeing your parents for four months and being over 1,300 miles from home is a lot different when you have never been more than an hour away from them for an extended period of time. Every child wants to make their parents proud and I hope I have done that.

As my time in Charlotte comes to an end, the difference between working at SDSU and with an NBA team are few and far between. No matter what media relations department you work in, it’s the same basic concept; work on game notes, handle media requests, travel with the team when necessary, work the game, etc.

What is interesting is when you move on in life, how many of those people you have met throughout the years do you still keep in contact with? Most people you meet end up just being acquaintances, while others become friends. It’s weird to think that I will never see some of the people I’ve worked with for four month again. Same thing goes for those during my five years at SDSU. Those you keep in contact with after you move on become friends.

The Bobcats hired Jerome Hubbard as their communication director about three weeks into my internship. He had a saying, “Life … is a dash.” I had no idea what it meant and for weeks kept asking him what he was talking about. He explained people try to dash through each day just trying to get to the finish line. After a while, the days, months and years of dashes add up. It goes by quick.