This time of the year I always think back to summer as a kid. Long days with no bedtime. Bathing suits, bicycles and my dad’s grill. Nothing to do but wake up and play!
And while there was nothing like the freedom I felt during those few months, there was something equally as exciting as the impending school year. I mean, come on, who doesn’t get excited about reconnecting with old friends, meeting new ones and anxiously anticipating the challenges a new year will bring.
As much as I longed for “just…one…more…day” of an alarm-clock free morning, the excitement I felt in the “pit of my stomach” when the ringing woke me on the first day of school is something I’ll never forget.
Well, guess what? That still happens to me today! Ever since I hung up my NASCAR firesuit on May 31, 2014, my work focus has been College sports, and therefore my adult summers have mirrored those of my youth. Why? Well, because I have most of the summer off.
In fact, the morning after Coach K and his squad cut down the nets in Indianapolis, I flew home, and my name officially changed from Shannon to Mommy. Yup, I drove home and waiting outside (literally) were my two beautiful, wonderful and extremely extroverted 5-year-old identical twin boys, Liam and Brady. They ran to my car screaming, “Mommy is home from work!” Behind them stood my equally wonderful, but a lot less energetic husband, who had just spent the past eight months playing the role of “Mister Mom” and the last 30 days as close to a single parent as he would like to get. You see, while covering Kentucky’s Pursuit of Perfection will always be a career highlight for me, it required that I spent most of March with the team instead of my family — but hey, I got major mommy brownie points for my pre-Final Four Facetime conversation with my kids and the Wildcat!
So this summer was all about the kiddos. I drove them back and forth to camp, sat on the sidelines during Lacrosse, swimming and diving practices, and with the exception of the few days I spent in New York City covering the NBA draft, I had dinner at home with my family almost every night and spent every day trying to reinforce the “magic” my boys still believe exists around every corner (more on THAT in a later entry).
And while my family is, and always will be, my number 1 priority, I also love my job. Which brings me back to the whole “first day of school thing.” When the month of September nears, I start to get that same sensation I did when I was a kid and the first day of school was right around the corner. Excitement. And if there were a “first day of school” for ESPN College Football broadcasters, it would no doubt be our 2-day pre-season seminar, which takes place about two weeks before the season kicks off.
ESPN gathers its College Football staff (producers, directors and on-air team) for our pre-season seminar. The first time I attended, my head was on a swivel! As a football fan, and someone who respects all the play-by-play, analyst and reporters who cover the sport, I was in professional heaven. Over the years, I’ve become friends with and have worked with many of the men and women in the room; however, I still can’t help but turn my head from side to side just to see who’s in the room and think to myself “Damn this is cool.”
And so it begins again — balancing my life as mommy and wife with that of an ESPN reporter for the 2015-2016 College sports season (football directly into basketball). Suitcases. Airports. Alarm clocks. Summer is over for all of us, but you know what? I can’t wait!