So in preparation for this entry I realized that I should read the post I put up on July 22nd. It was my "The Biggest State of The Pich' Address Ever" because in it I announced I was moving to Austin Texas and after the announcement I did a fake Q & A session to explain it. I realized that it would be pretty fitting to look back at what I wrote then and update it with what really happened 8 months down the road in my second month back in Boston... It's a fun journey come along...
Original entry paragraphs will be bold and italicized. Then I will comment below with the current day updated thoughts.
Ok... shame on you if you scrolled down just for this news but if you've seen the video by now, you now. The Most Electrifying Man in Ice Entertainment is taking his talents to Longhorn Country! Austin Texas! Holy crap right?! That's why this is the "Biggest State" of The Pich' Address ever... everything is bigger in the state of Texas!
I was so excited for this move for so many reasons. I hated having to keep it under wraps as long as I did but it did give me the chance to release a video from Austin Texas with me already there. After releasing that video I finally hit post on this entry which I had been working on for weeks prior.
So first a lead statement and then I'll take questions. I will be working for a company called Chaparral Ice. They currently oversee 2 properties and plan to be involved in more in nearby cities in the next couple of years. Of the current facilities, one is an older facility in or near a shopping mall? And the other is a brand new multi-sport facility currently scheduled to open August 1st. They would like me to be there in time for opening. I discussed the opportunity with anyone who would listen. People in the industry, my family, friends, people that used to live in Texas, people that know someone that went to Austin once... anything I could get. This for me checks all the boxes of looking for new employment in a new city. And I feel like this is a great next step for me.
One of the rinks was in fact in an old mall. The new facility would open on the 4th rather than the 1st. My discussions were good but I did forget one key person who I had met before who had worked for Chaparral Ice. Had I talked to him and learned what I'd later learn I might never have stepped a foot on Austin soil. But it is what it is. No regrets. Honestly. You'll see.
I parted ways with Warrior Ice Arena and quite frankly can not thank them enough, although I intend to write a longer send-off in the near future to try anyhow. Marissa was very supportive and was the person I discussed it with first at Warrior. It's never been a secret that I've been looking elsewhere and never intended to be a Boston lifer. I do hate that it's come at a time when we are returning to business being open and Marissa is out on maternity leave. But I did work with the staff to educate them on all I do when I'm not playing pop-a-shot, or writing a gem of an all-staff email. I expect they will be ok in my absence and I love knowing that we just had months to work on projects and the building has never looked better so not only am I leaving the building in good hands, but it's looking 100 as the kids would say.
I said and always will say great things about Warrior Ice Arena. Nothing changed about this paragraph. Just knowing how the management gave a shit about my well-being and future was a great backing for the move and would end up being a large factor in why it was so easy to accept the offer to come back.
I'll take questions at this time.
Have you ever even been to Texas?
Great question. Technically - yes. Once. Layover in Dallas on the way to Milwaukee. Had to stay overnight in a hotel and fly out in the morning. So Actually - No not until 7/20/20 when I landed in Austin
I decided to move site unseen except for this week. Thats why Im here. Starting some work stuff but also to scout a place to live. I would have loved to have visited before but due to the re-flare of Covid (thanks again big guy!) I opted to not travel here to see it first. Not because I fear it but because a visit would have meant a quarantine upon return and basically undo what would then be my 2-week notice... not ideal. I had enough first-hand accounts, chats with those who have been and info to know I'd like Austin. I actually had to Google "Bad things about Austin" to try and find some bad stuff because I mostly have heard good things. Basically it sounded like bad traffic and extreme heat... if that replaces bad traffic and extreme cold then I'm down... well also Massholes, people caring about Tom Brady, and ok I'm deviating too much... Next.
Yeah moving across the country during a pandemic is not recommended, of course later I'd ignore that fact to return but you get it... As far as good-bye and hellos go, it sucks. Not the same memorable moments you'd have normally when moving. Any who, trading the traffic and cold for traffic with heat was pretty right on. Although I never really saw a huge impact from traffic myself. Austin was and still remains a pretty bad ass city. I didn't really get to see it at it's full-blown best with outdoor music, and festivls everywhere. In fact I thought seriously about switching careers to stay down there but ultimately I didn't have to go through with that.
What the hell guy?
(I've inserted this question as I'd imagine Justin St. Louis would have asked me had I seen him on my most recent trip to Vermont. Another tip of the cap to Covid for that)
Well I've been looking for a place to go for awhile. I moved down to take a job in Mass in 2014 and have bounced around that area since. I got a lot out of it and by no way have any regrets about it. In fact it prepared me for all I'll face in the future, but this was never an area I wanted to settle down in and it hurt me a lot outside of work. For awhile I never wanted to form connections with people outside of co-workers, for fear I'd end up doing exactly what has happened to Katie. I just never put my all in to anything outside of work here because I never wanted to be here. Now I get to choose where I go and I'm excited to spread my wings in an area where I could literally drive 10 hours in any direction and be somewhere I've never been. In fact just driving over there eventually (an estimated 29 hours away) I'll be able to hit 2 states I've never been to and some big time cities I've never set foot in.
I look forward to really digging in upon my return to Boston. Basically I am coming back with a whole new perspective. I've learned through therapy and experience that I should have approached it differently before and now I get to do sort of a half reset and try it again. So far it's been going well!
I thought you loved your job at Warrior Ice Arena?
I do. And I always will. I may never like another job as much as I've liked this one. The people I work with and for have been so great that it's hard to imagine it could ever be topped. However I felt like I was living for work. I often stayed well over required hours. Sometimes almost refusing to leave. I just felt super-comfortable there. Almost too comfortable. Hell, I wrote most of this address at my desk when I was done working instead of going home one night. (I later came back to edit along the journey to Austin) I need to shake things up. I'm meant for more. I finished the top certification in this industry this past year (thanks in large part to WIA) and in order for me to move up I have to move out. I've had some chances in the past couple of years but this one has truly surpassed my expectations so far. I mean it's hard saying not knowing, but on paper this is a slam dunk. I always joked with Marissa when she asked if there was anything she could do to make me happier, I'd say "Can you move the building somewhere else?" Well she can't do that but I can certainly look for a like situation and finally I found what I believe to be a good fit.
I have quoted "I may never like another job as much as I've liked this one" many times since this post. Maybe it made the shoes for Chap Ice too big to fill? While moving there did shake things up it certainly wasn't the "more" I claimed to be meant for. It was less. Having all the certifications I had made it a further slap in the face to not be used correctly. On paper it was a slam dunk. Over the phone it sounded amazing. But then I think the actual execution was not only a swing and a miss... it was 3 "swing and a misses" and as the rules state "3 strikes and your out."
Why do you think it will be a good fit?
Well as I said I hope to explore and soak in Austin and it's surrounding area. Just learning a new culture and keeping my winter hats boxed up all year will be a fun adjustment. I've learned already I'm supposed to hate Californians who move there, and The University of Oklahoma (Hook 'em!). The cost of living is such that for what I pay now I could have my own very nice apartment and if I don't have to have roommates then that's solid. No offense meant to any current or past roommate but I'm 41 here... lets go. Plus I thought living close to family and friends in Boston would at least have the benefit of visitors but since I've been in Boston almost no one has come to visit (Aaron Stata excluded... I think he already has us booked for golf in Austin in December too) as my Mom barked "That's because Boston sucks!" Touche Mom. But you know where doesn't suck? Where people flock to for festivals, fun, and an average temp of 67-45 degrees in February? Austin, Texas that's where. And with my own pad y'all can come and visit. (I get to say "y'all" now that I live in the south)
As far as the work aspect I welcome the challenge of helping a new facility open while also helping an older one stay running. I have experience with both and I can't wait to dig in and get going on all that needs to be done. The meetings I had with the owner and operators went very well. They were from Winnipeg, and Massachusetts originally so we got along well. I could tell they wanted me and valued my years of experience and relationship with U.S. Ice Rinks Association. Later I met the new COO who was just hired in June and she is from Chicago, but also spent time in Australia working in the AFL. It's a transplant friendly city and a job with the same vibe. Working with people who understand that transition is pretty helpful. Part of the reason Marissa and I clicked early on at WIA too.
With my natural charisma I'm sure I'll be knee-deep in peeps by mid- August (whoa cocky much?) and if not I'll get a dog because apartments all seem to allow those too! It's like I could have a regular life there at the wages I currently have... wild!
So that first paragraph still stands... except for that unfortunate ice/snow storm that ended up rolling through later in the week I left. I LOVED learning the Texas culture and I think it's a great state. Honestly I could see myself moving back to Texas down the road and I'd recommend it to all. The parts I saw from Dallas to College Station from San Antonio to Austin... all great spots!
Woof... this paragraph... what can I say? Honestly I think all those people mentioned meant well and aren't bad people. I got along with them and I don't think they had malice in the heart or purposefully ignored me all the time... But honestly when it came to actually working with them I only regularly saw and enjoyed working with one of the three... The other two were the main reasons why the place was poorly managed. And I'll leave it at that. But I do want to say that a lot of the other operations and front desk staff were great. Their hard work and effort in face of disorganization and chaos is the only reason the place runs at all. Hopefully things change there for the sake of the employees and the skating/hockey community of Austin because there are a lot of great people down there!
It took me awhile to form some relationships down there because honestly after about 3 weeks I admitted to myself I had made a mistake. I quickly was looking for a way out and then often tried to reset and dig in and be part of the solution and not part of the problem but too often I was discouraged and therefore wasn't really the best dude to be out trying to dig in to an area that I already assumed would be a short stay. That said the peeps I did connect with are awesome and I'll definitely go back down to visit!
What's the plan dude?
Well the plan was to help Warrior Ice Arena with whatever they need from me physically until the 20th. Then for this week I plan to get cracking with an intro week at work and a scouting mission for apts. Then home for the court date on the 27th and pack up that week and get moving. Even if I drove 10 hours a day it could take 3 days to get out to Austin with the ol Prius. Already talked with friends and family about stops along the way. Ive always wanted to drive across the country and other than trips to Milwaukee and Florida this will be the closest to that, and it will be the longest road trip Ive ever made.
I was hoping to have a farewell New England tour but time and travel restrictions dont really make that too advisable at this point. (Thanks yet again Covid!)
Nothing really to report here. This was a pretty accurate paragraph. The current plan is to live and enjoy my life. Carve a new path in a similar world. I'm excited about it!
You seem confident... too confident. Any worries or concerns?
I have a few sure. I chose to move somewhere Ive never been before yesterday. It would be impossible to feel completely 100% ok with that but as in Texas Hold 'em sometimes you have to go all-in when the odds are extremely in your favor. Might someone make a straight flush on the river? Maybe. but if you've got a strong hand you've got to play it, or always wonder what if. Bottom line I was uncomfortable with wondering what-if on this one, and shoved all my chips to the middle. And I feel strong I'll win the hand and maybe the whole tournament!
Other than that I'm not sure I'm fully ready for 100 degree weather but working in rinks should help with that some. I've also heard of a "Cedar Fever" which concerns me slightly because they say it affects pollen allergic people... however I'm prepared with a list of medications to keep it to a dull roar if in fact it rear it's ugly head.
I'm sure it's going to be hard to find people with ice rink experience in Texas so while that might be a bad thing in some areas I also get a chance to teach everyone the proper stuff and not have people coming in with bad habits from other rinks. I think this will mean more training up front but will be rewarding in the long run.
I'm mildly concerned with how in to College football the region will be. I've never been a huge fan of it but my intention is to embrace it and don the orange which has never bumped me in football and root root root for the home team. Because as we all know I always adopt the local teams as my own. I mean I Iove the Brewers, and Bucks from my time in Milwaukee, obviously I'm a UVM guy through and through, and from my time in Boston... well... ok maybe that's not always true but I'll be happy to be in a city where I'm comfortable supporting the local squads. Might get weird when the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL) come down to face the Texas Stars but time will tell... ( also a little concerned I might be in Astros country... How 'bout them Nationals?!?! It's still probably too soon for that. Maybe if I don't mention the sign stealing thing they'll let me slide?)
Gonna quickly hit these...
- I went all in with a Full House but got beat by a straight flush on the river. Bad beats happen. Ultimately, I played the cards I was dealt properly.
- 100 degree weather was not that bad. It really wasn't as impactful with little to no humidity... that phrase "but its a dry heat" now makes sense to me.
- Cedar Fever never hit me but then again I wasn't there for a full year so maybe I missed that season.
- Definitely got to train staff from the ground up which is actually sometimes better than trying to correct someone who has been doing it for years the wrong way.
- College football wasn't the same without fans. Sure people talked about it WAY too much but hey when you're NFL options are the Texans and the Cowboys you've got to talk about some football I guess.
- The Texas Stars didn't start until I was gone and I couldn't go to other events so the only local-ish team I connected with was the Dallas Stars. I did get to go to their home opener before I left and I'm so glad I got to. They went to the Cup final while I was there too so that was cool.
So what all goes on at these rinks you'll be at?
Well one is the home to the University of Texas Hockey team... I think they are Division 2 or maybe club? The new facility will be the practice rink for the Texas Stars of the AHL the affiliate of the NHL Dallas Stars. Also the Texas Junior Stars are there and aside from those I believe it's mostly going to be public sessions, learn to skate, figure skating and hockey leagues and camps like all other rinks. I mean whatever keeps the lights on and the ice cold. And who knows 2 months from now I could read this and be like "Well that was all wrong" and then I'll update you. It also features and indoor and outdoor turf field for soccer and lacrosse. Plans have many other sports to be added as well outside such as beach volleyball and pickleball courts. It's going to be a sight to behold when it's done.
This is all still pretty true. Texas and Texas State use those facilities for their club level games but their seasons were called off. The Texas Stars as previously mentioned only began practicing there in my final weeks and I never made ice for them. The public skating was pretty well attended around the holidays and the hockey leagues and groups were steady. The learn to skate program did some great numbers and the learn to play hockey programs were also very well run. In an area where not necessarily everyone grows up with skating or hockey they do a good job providing the tools to get people interested and that's a vital skill in that area.
How much Texas swag did you already own versus how much have you recently bought?
Almost none. I have a Dallas Stars jersey thanks to a trade awhile back with noted Stars fan Josh Goyet. I also have a pretty sweet Dirk Nowitski jersey. But that's about it. Not even a hat, or shirt of much anything else.
My first purchase was a sweet Texas Stars scarf which I realize will mostly be for display. I looked at some other stuff but waited til I arrived to drive around and get some stuff on site!
So far I haven't bought much. Don't see much point in buying something to bring back and pack to bring right back. I've scouted for sure but no big purchases right now.
Well I have added several items since then including a Jamie Benn Stars jersey that August gifted me for Christmas. Plus I had to get some stuff at the game. Yeah I added a fair amount of Texas based gear to the collection. Almost too much to name.
Anything else to add?
Uh yeah this is going to be like the biggest thing since I moved to Milwaukee, but I'm 12 years wiser this time. I'm going to bring the Piche brand and electrify the ice entertainment world one Texan at a time! I hope you follow me on this site and on the 'Gram because you're about to come along with me. It's going to be a rootin tootin time! (I'll have to check to see if the kids are still using "rootin tootin" in Texas when I get there. That could be a weird Yosemite Sam thing I'm putting on them wrongly)
Ok folks that was wordy enough right? There was a lot of meat on that bone. Hopefully you were in shock, moved, and laughed a bit as I did putting this together. These feelings were real and from my brain right to the keyboard... just the way I like it. Hope to give more of that going forward. Living my life out loud is way more comfortable for me than being secretive and withholding.
Bottom line we all have had hardships in these past few months. And it's all not over yet. I've been told the whole time to expect a new normal... I had no idea my new normal would be written in the Lone Star State. I'm so excited for this adventure!
More to come soon!
While having the life experience of the years during and after the Milwaukee move it sort of ended the same. It was for sure better to have had that prior knowledge of a cross-country move but this was a whole different beast. Due to early disappointments and realizations I was not as electrifying as I'd have liked to be but honestly I often had a hard time dragging myself in there or not quitting mid-shift so one could argue that by simply getting through and staying tight with the staff that I was in fact adding some spark of electricity. "Rootin tootin" times could be counted on one hand, and not even the whole hand, over the 6 month time period.
Yeah this paragraph is a key one. Because I felt in many ways locked back in to being secretive. I felt like I couldn't appropriately post about how things were going or that I was seriously looking for other jobs starting in October. I didn't like that I couldn't share, aside from a text or phone call with friends and family. It was like the opposite of what I wanted and fueled my desire to want to quit. Then I could have openly searched for other jobs and let people know what was up.
This last one hits hard for me because I know how I felt when I finished it. That hope. That excitement for newness... I was ready to fall in love with Austin, the job, and it's people and live there for the rest of my life perhaps. It didn't end the way I wanted it to. Which is odd to say because in that recently proposed dream it ends with my death but still... you get it.
It's why when after packing the POD, saying final good-byes and before I backed up my Prius to start driving away from Austin... I cried. It finally hit me... this wasn't at all what I had wanted... it was a good healthy cry that sort of finally allowed me to get out some of the emotions attached to this thing and put some of it behind me. And I say "some" because honestly I'm still gonna be working this out for a bit. Writing this is part of it. Later a more defined blow by blow because honestly while "Hey remember that time I moved to Texas for like 6 months?" has already become a joke... it was no joke. It was real. There was good and bad and I want to make sure to document it so I never forget... I doubt that I will but still...
Also what about all the stellar timing that led to my return? If you knew all the pieces that had to fall just right you'd assume I'm either a witch or just very lucky. Honestly its all pretty mind-blowing and quite the tale if I do say so. Don't let that sadness from the last paragraph fool ya. I'm glad to be back in Boston... yeah I wrote and meant that sentence. I'm happy to be back at Warrior Ice Arena where I already felt more valued before even agreeing to return. The first month back has been awesome, and weird and all kinds of better.
More to come...