I never set out to build a sports site. For that matter, D Magazine never set out to have one. That we are here, celebrating one year of StrongSide, owes itself to some measure of opportunity, timing, providence, kismet, or just plain dumb luck.
Perhaps all of them. Because what those things have in common is an element of the unplanned. Something that forces a course correction. To where? Well, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some idea. Once this became a reality—when I signed the employment papers and sat down at my new desk and cracked open the laptop and I had to actually, you know, do this—I knew how I wanted StrongSide to look. I wanted it to be smart without being intimidating, clever without being obnoxious. I wanted it to be fun. I wanted to tell stories no one else was doing. And, above all, I wanted it to be pretty damn well-written.
In a nutshell, I wanted it to be the Dallas sports site I wanted to read, which is to say I intended to make this different from anything else in town. No matter what kind of sports fan you are, you’d find something engaging here. And once you did, you’d stick around for a while.
But conceptualizing is not creation. The former never overlaps perfectly with the latter, which is where the joy comes in. How dull would the ride be if we knew every mile marker along the way?
One year in, I’m thrilled with the ways this has gone to plan. We don’t sound like anyone else, and our team does the sort of work that makes you learn, laugh, enjoy, and feel. We’ve even won our first major award! Yet some of my greatest joy comes from the unanticipated detours. I didn’t expect a concept ginned up in five minutes—“The playoffs are here? We should probably write about those.”—would become one of the more popular things we’ve done. I could not have conceived of us being the spot that ran the excerpt revealing the truth about the greatest legend in Dallas sports history. I was not prepared for Brian Dameris, to name one member of regular crew, to become this good of a writer when he reached out to see if there’d be a spot for him to try his hand at the only medium not on his extensive media résumé. Or Rachel Gill, our sales director, being so down to write an insightful series about the realities of NFL cheerleading to accompany Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team. There were other, less joyful surprises along the way, like the site crashing in the first 90 minutes of its existence. But a little chaos comes with the territory over 365 exciting, enriching, occasionally exhausting days.
So many people deserve credit for the foreseen, the spontaneous, and everything in between. Our owner and editor-in-chief, Christine Allison, for humoring my one simple question—Why not sports?—and then empowering me to answer it. Everyone in editorial, but especially Tim Rogers, Zac Crain, and Matt Goodman, all of whom helped make this a reality and help me shoulder the editing load alongside the legendary Mark Godich, who began lending his expertise this summer in a freelance capacity because he can golf only so many times a week in retirement. Our writers, the heartbeat of this site, from the one-offs to the regulars and especially those who jumped on board from the very beginning: Jamey Newberg, Jake Kemp, Roberto Jose Andrade Franco, Dan Morse, Iztok Franko, Brian Dameris, David Castillo, and Dorothy J. Gentry. So many unsung people in our building who help us keep the lights on, from payroll to sales to art to audience development. My wife, Sarah, whose patience accommodates the weird hours that help sustain a lot of what happens on my end.
And, most important, all of you who read us. This works because you make it work: because you invest your time and attention in what we do and what we’re building, and keep coming back for more. I assure you none of us takes that lightly.
Which is why we’re planning on Year 2 being even better. Not only because we now have an idea of what the hell we’re doing but because none of us is close to satisfied with what we’ve done so far. We’ll keep evolving just like the sports we cover, in expected and unexpected directions. And if you want to steer us anywhere, we’ve got a survey so you can tell us how we’re doing and what you want more of. You’re always welcome to shoot me an email, too.
Last year at this time, I told you I looked forward to our journey together. My friends, we’re in the thick of it now, and I couldn’t be having more fun. I can’t wait to see all the places we go next.