If you live in Philadelphia and you love sports, then you are probably a Philadelphia Flyers fan. While the Eagles may have the bigger fanbase, Flyers fans are more like a cult; they are devoted to their team to a fault and will follow them through good and bad, thick or thin.
If the above is a good description of you, then you are going to be jealous as hell of this week’s Geek of the Week, Sarah Baicker. In addition to being in charge of all Flyers content on CSNPhilly.com, she gets to go to every game, interview players and handles social media for the team.
I was lucky enough to interview Sarah about the Flyers, Philly sports fans and what any of this has to do with little green dinosaurs.
Have you always been a sports fan?
I’ve definitely been a hockey fan for as long as I can remember. The other sports … well, they were slower to come.
I have this memory of being maybe 11 years old or so, and my dad had promised to take me ice skating – something I was very excited for, as I’d really jumped on the hockey bandwagon by that point – and his friend called him up and offered him two really good free tickets to an Eagles game. He pitched the idea to me, and I immediately rejected it.
We were going ice skating, come hell, high water, or free Birds tickets. These days, though, I’m pretty sure I’d take the tickets … even though the team didn’t live up to expectations this season. (Ugh, that’s a whole other issue!)
You do a lot of Flyers coverage for Comcast Sportsnet. What’s a typical day like?
It probably sounds cliché, but there’s no such thing as a typical day for me. Technically, I’m a digital producer responsible primarily for overseeing the Flyers coverage on CSNPhilly.com, Comcast SportsNet’s home on the Web. But … it would take me three days (or about 300 pages) to list everything I do.
To pare it down: If I’m covering a Flyers game, my day generally starts at about 10 a.m., when the team has its morning skate. The morning skate is basically when the team skates for a short while and warms up before heading home to take a pregame nap. (Yes! They really do nap before games! Jealous?) After the morning skate, I’ll head to the locker room for pregame interviews to learn things like which goalie will start that evening, if anyone’s returning from injury, so on and so forth. Then I’ll write a story or two recapping whatever I’ve learned.
After the morning skate, I head home for my own pregame nap (yes, really). I’ll be back at the Wells Fargo Center (or whatever arena the Flyers are playing at) by 4:45 p.m., for one more interview with the coach. I’ll stay for the game and write while I’m watching it – I am so thankful for all my middle school classes that taught me to type fast and without looking at the keyboard! After the game, I’ll return to the locker room for one final time to do postgame interviews with the players and coach before writing a final story about the game, as well as a couple blog posts or feature stories to run on CSNPhilly.com along with it.
If I’m not covering a game or a practice, I’m in the Comcast SportsNet newsroom at the Wells Fargo Center as an editor responsible for maintaining our Flyers editorial calendar, as well as editing and posting any stories that are filed. I also oversee all of CSN’s social media efforts. It’s a lot of work, but I definitely enjoy it.
How excited did you get when it was announced the Winter Classic would be played in Philly?
My first thought was, “Oh my god, I better get to skate on that ice!” After that, I was so excited that Philly, my hometown, would get to play host to such an awesome event. Philadelphia is a great hockey city, but many times it gets overlooked, especially by the hockey media I know from New York, Toronto, etc.
The event didn’t disappoint at all. I’ve been to a lot of cool hockey events – All-Star games, the Stanley Cup Final – but this was far and away my favorite. Yeah, the Flyers lost, but that was the only part of the experience that wasn’t amazing.
Oh, and I did get to play hockey on the ice. It was even more awesome than I could have possibly imagined!
So, what have you thought of how the Flyers have played this season with all the changes from last year?
This season has been a surprise. If you rewind to July, you wouldn’t have predicted that the goalie they spent through the nose on (Ilya Bryzgalov) would be struggling as much as he is. You definitely wouldn’t have thought rookie Matt Read would have more points than either Jeff Carter or Mike Richards, who they dealt over the off-season. And you certainly couldn’t have imagined Scott Hartnell would lead the Flyers in goals and have made his way to the All-Star Game.
All that said, the Flyers have been very good so far. They’ve been battling for the top spot in their division all season. Next month will be very telling, though, because all you need to do is to look back to last season to see the Flyers sometimes have a tendency to take a turn for the worse come February.
Impossible to choose a favorite today, since I work with them … but growing up, I adored Eric Lindros and John LeClair. Meeting both – especially Lindros – at the Winter Classic Alumni Game was an amazing experience.
And to prove I have no shame: I have this terrible photo of a very awkward adolescent me posing with Eric Lindros at a Flyers Wives Fight for Lives Carnival in 1998 … and I showed it to him at the Classic. He cracked up.
I saw on your Facebook page that you make adorable little green dinosaurs out of clay. What made you start making them?
Yes! I’ve been playing around with clay for as long as I can remember. The dinosaurs actually started in 2007, when I was working on my Master’s degree at Northwestern. At the time, I used to make cartoonish dogs out of clay as gifts for friends. On Easter afternoon, I was bored and got the itch to play with clay. But since it was a holiday, all the stores in town were closed!
My roommate Emily happened to have some modeling clay in her desk, but it was only in a few shades of green and purple. In my mind, green + purple = dinosaur. I’ve been making them ever since. (When I’m motivated, I catalogue and sell them at www.sarahtoppsart.com.)
What makes Philadelphia such a great sports town?
Philly fans – of all four sports – are brutally honest. They’ll boo their own guys if they’re not happy with the product that’s out on the field, court or ice. They’ll boo the guy sitting next to them (and his six-year-old daughter) if they’re wearing the opposing team’s jersey. You don’t get that everywhere.
I remember when I lived in St. Louis and the Cardinals were in the World Series in 2006, there was almost this “Well, whoever wins, they deserve it!” mentality among Cards fans. Fans here are too passionate for a response like that – and that’s just one reason Philadelphia is a great sports city.