12-15-12 Pacific Cup

Hey, Rookie, LFL360.com, Marcus de la Fuente

LFL360.com, Marcus de la Fuente

Inexperience can be spotted quickly in almost any working environment. Much like the young kid who doesn’t quite know how to enter your order into the system, the insecure assistant nervously rolling calls for their boss, or the greenhorn that every roughneck is nervous to work around, a rookie athlete typically garners attention for all the wrong reasons. There were plenty of rookies on the field at the ShoWare Center this weekend, as the Seattle Mist hosted the BC Angels in the LFL’s first ever Pacific Cup Border War. However, the inexperience wasn’t limited to the players on the field this past Saturday. The Pacific Cup was the first LFL game for some of us on the production team as well.

I was brought onto the LFL team at the end of the Canadian season as a Producer/Editor. The title was quickly changed to Editor as perhaps it was considered that we should wait to see how Marcus actually performs during the production of a few games before giving him any sort of “producer” credit. After all, my first real interaction with the league came shortly after joining the LFL, when I introduced myself on one of the team’s Facebook pages. My naïve approach was quickly met with, “Who the f*** is Marcus?!” Nice. I’m suddenly the guy trying to sneak into the frat party. But actually, that response was to be expected. In sports, cordiality is for the birds. Groups of closely-knit people don’t simply welcome a “Rando” into their family just because they said hello. Like the rookies coming out of college and moving into the professional workplace, the new guys have to earn their respect and place within the league. Trust is earned, not given. Plenty of rookies have been cut or fired for not panning out. The Pacific Cup was an opportunity for some of us to exhibit the first layer in developing anyone who is moving forward within an organization: potential.

As the weekend grew closer and closer, the anticipation for the game was mixed with nervousness and excitement. Much like a rookie receiver whose reps are limited, you’re only allowed so many drops before you find yourself working somewhere else. Patrick Ruhlig, who started working for LFL Films this week, and myself were determined not to drop the ball during our first game.

Upon arriving in Seattle, I thought of what this game meant for me and the other rookies. Obviously the game would be an opportunity to show what you can do to contribute to the team, but it would also be a chance to test yourself on how well you stand up to uncertainty. The crew underwent its final preparations the night before, at the hotel. The athletes were doing photo-shoots. The technical guys were briefing each other on the equipment and expected workflow. The production staff was scheduling every minute of game day. All the while, Patrick and I were thinking of how we were going to jump right in to this moving wheel of production without slowing anyone down. Our pre-game delegation was to capture material for the commercials that would air during the game, and set the story for the matchup by interviewing the players and coaches. Our in-game delegation was to not screw up.

Saturday’s Border War would be broadcast live, so there was little room for error and certainly no room for incompetence. During the game, Patrick would be on the field with a camera, getting intimate coverage of the game, while trying not to get run over. Meanwhile, I would be field producing for the Commish, also trying not to get run over.

The game was hectic, fast, exhausting, and awesome. There were moments of confusion and miscommunication as in, “Oh I see, if I turn up the volume on my headset, I’ll be able to hear.” There were moments of bewildered uncertainty as in, “How come no one has said anything over the radio in a while? Oh because I’m on the wrong channel.” Then there were simply rewarding moments, like when I had to inform some pretty high-up people of how many points a 2-point conversion was worth if returned the other direction. Not everyone knew. All throughout the day, there was constant problem solving, responding to unexpected situations, adapting to last minute changes, and a whole lot of footwork. By the end of the day I was “Epcot” tired.

The trial-by-fire was not just a 15-hour ride of sweat/tears, but it was also a tremendous learning experience. Throughout the course of a football game, the athletes and coaches slowly begin to realize how well prepared their team was. Where could we have worked harder? What happened that we weren’t expecting? What mistakes did we make? How will we apply the lessons from these mistakes so that we can have a better performance next week? What needs to change? These same questions run through the heads of everyone on the production team before, during, and after each game. The harder you prepare, the smoother things will go on game day.

As the game wrapped up, there was elation all through the arena. Trophies were raised in the air, hugs were given, and tears were shed. There was also a celebration going on among the players and coaches. ;-) However, what hit me the most after the game was over was how happy the fans were to have been there. The Mist and Angels gave the fans a great game. Each team had clearly prepared and worked hard in the weeks leading up to the Pacific Cup. It was a success. The LFL production team is a hard-working, football-loving group of people that wants to give the fans the best possible experience whether they are at the game or watching at home. With only one game under our belts, Patrick and I are still the new guys. We have a long way to go before becoming an established part of this team. I can only hope that the other rookies in the league are as excited about the upcoming season as we are.