After 4,888 posts dedicated solely to Northwestern Athletics, what else is left to say? What started as a seemingly innocuous experiment combining a personal passion with a crash course to enhance my profession on June 27, 2007 (Taking the Purple Plunge) ends with this final LTP Post on January 15, 2015.
I’ve already gone to great lengths to explain the reasons for why it was time to hang up the blog. You can read the two part series here – Closing Time Part I & Closing Time Part 2. This site will remain live for years to come, but now the role of LTP will be a living, breathing archive of living up to a promise – “a daily dose of Wildcataganda” – for a significant span of time.
Hundreds of you have expressed your effusive praise, thanks AND sense of loss that comes with our daily ritual of pulling up a chair a the virtual table to rejoice, lament and share the roller coaster ride that accompanies any passionate fan’s experience during the season. I know you feel like you know me and I feel as though I know you.
We are all bonded by one universally shared common bond – our love of Northwestern. For some it is limited to a single sport, like football. For others, particularly alumni, it has had a transformative impact on our lives. It has for me.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit today was an emotional one for me. On the one hand I’m sad about partially cutting the cord on what at some level had become part of my identity and purpose. On the other hand, I’m thrilled to embark on new hobbies, new adventures and really going all-in on family and work in that order.
Once I knew it was time for me to end LTP, I specifically picked the final post date to be the day after a Northwestern – Illinois basketball game that I knew I would attend. In my own Wildcat warped sensibility this made complete sense. After all, my very first laking of a field goal post occurred in my freshman year (1991) when the ‘Cats, dressed in all purple special uniforms (an idea way ahead of its time) upset the then Top 20 Illini in a game at Dyche Stadium. Gary Barnett’s upset of the Illini in a 20-point fourth quarter comeback win in Champaign in his first season (1992) was the moment that several of us went all in on believing in the “Expect Victory” coach. I felt by scheduling the final post to coincide with Chris Collins’ attempt to move to 3-1 against John Groce would somehow mark another milestone for the rising men’s basketball program that someday we’d look back upon and point to as one of the many “signs” that revisionist history affords us.
As you know, the win didn’t happen (Illinois won 72-67). There I sat in my seats in section 211 with a friend and Northwestern employee in the NU season ticket section completely engulfed in Illini fans and there was NU and Alex Olah taking a 3-pointer to tie the game right near the end and it rolled around the rim, seemingly going down, but spun out. A sports metaphor in many ways. I turned to my friend, made a motion with my eyes to the opposing crowd around us and said “we’ve got a lot of work to do, but I can just feel it is going to happen here. Chris is going to get it done and I cannot wait for the day when this is almost all purple.”
I do believe that. I also believe that while we didn’t reach our stated goal of selling out Ryan Field and Welsh-Ryan every game with almost all purple, it can happen. I am also telling you right now that WHEN Northwestern makes it to the NCAA Tournament I will come out of retirement for one post, but more importantly, we’re going to have a party unlike any other first round site has ever seen. Some unsuspecting small city like Providence or Boise is going to get overrun by the largest mass of passionate, purple-clad folks they’ve ever seen and I’m telling you right now it will be the single highest ticket demand for an NCAA first round game.
As I’ve recently shared, LTP has had a profound impact on my day job, which is more than a day job. I am the CEO of TeamWorks Media, a purpose-driven marketing company that helps inspire our clients audiences to care about them. Whether you’ve got a product or service with purpose (many of our clients are for-profit) or you want to authentically create purpose within your organization, that’s what we do. We tap in to the essence of clients’ brand stories and then help them strike the emotional chord that converts them to engaged brand advocates. Sound familiar? Yup, very much like what has happened here, we do on a daily basis. I’d genuinely love to get your feedback on our brand new website (at the time of this post) and I’d be curious to get your take on the LTP-like tone, if there is one.
I joke about the “day job”, but as you can likely imagine, I LOVE my job and I bring the same passion and intensity to TeamWorks that I brought (yikes, even the past tense hurts) to LTP. It’s as trite as time, but the life is too short to spend so much of your time not doing something you love has been one of my guiding principles in life.
During the LTP era, you’ve seen a ton of our company’s work that directly relates to Northwestern. We’ve done dozens of campaigns for the Big Ten Conference, most recently the B1G Map spot you see in every game. We also run BTN’s cause marketing platform – BTN Live B1G and we produce Northwestern-related content year-round.
It’s been kind of funny running LTP before and after work and having our firm involved in some Northwestern-related marketing through our relationship with the B1G and BTN. While I’m very proud of the work, these samples also reinforce why I love NU so much and I hope one or two of them strike a chord with you. Here is some NU-related work I’ve been involved with during the LTP run that I think captures some of the essence and spirit of our LTP community…
B1G Map (and no, there is no subliminal LTP message in it)
B1G Experience & NU Lacrosse- If you haven’t been to the B1G headquarters, please go. We created the B1G Experience, a 3,000 square foot fun, interactive way to celebrate the rich history of the B1G that obviously has a ton of NU presence. It is free an open to the public. There is a theater featuring short films from every school and currently, the below Northwestern women’s lacrosse film is repping our ‘Cats:
BTN Live B1G – Honor Flight – one of many spots running in BTN live games that shows off NU-related folks making a positive dent in the world.
Faces of the B1G – We’ve done 20+ spots on NU athletes alone, here is one:
Northwestern I Will Campaign – 2008
One of my personal favs sice Under Armour came out with a very similar “I Will” campaign a year after this….
Northwestern alum John Trautwein and his impact via Will to Live:
Some fun Big Ten Fan Camp circa 2011
At the time of this post, I do have some things in the works that would very much help continue my ability to “spread far the fame of our fair name” so be on the lookout in the coming months and years for some positive Wildcat-related projects that you’ll know about hopefully by feel alone (aka “that seems like an LTP thing!”). Our friends at InsideNU.com are carrying the torch of daily original Wildcat content in the fan blog category and I invite you to visit if you don’t already do. Additionally, guys like Louie Vaccher at WildcatReport.com and Chris Emma at Wildcat Digest will continue their respective beats. There is no loss of opportunity to consume daily NU content.
I’m confident there will be other torch carriers of the purple passion in the digital world in years to come and perhaps one of them is you. I’m happy to spare you a lot of learning curve should you want to do so. Your perspectives weighed in to many of the above creative ideas. And so many of you influence the purple positive in your own way. Let’s continue to do so.
LET’S STAY IN TOUCH
As I’ve said to many of you, I’m not going anywhere. You can find me every Saturday in the fall along with my wife Tanya, my three daughters, my father-in-law and a host of friends in the west lot of Ryan Field as far north as you can possibly go. We nestle up against the trees and fly a green Dartmouth flag (in addition to the Northwestern one, of course) in honor of “Mrs. LTP’s” first love. I also attend many hoops games and sit in Section 211, row MM (never quite learned how to leverage the LTP factor in to better seats). I’d love to see you, but just give me a heads-up if you want to swing by the tailgate so we can plan accordingly food and beverage wise.
I will be very much reaching out and taking you up on your offers to connect when I come to your city, so be careful what you asked for!
Here is my contact info:
Jay@TeamWorksMedia.com (I won’t be checking the firstname.lastname@example.org email that much moving forward)
cell – 312.446.9435
work – 312.829.8326
Twitter – @_JaySharman
LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/pub/jay-sharman/2/6b9/13
Until we meet again…
Thank you for your support, daily readership and engagement. As much as you believe I have done a service from you, I feel as though I am the one walking away with even more fulfillment and that’s because of you. I’ll see you soon. Good day Wildcat fans. Good day. Go ‘Cats.