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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Learning from Legendary Sportscaster Spencer Ross

Learning from Legendary Sportscaster Spencer Ross

Blog by Master of Chaos Kevin Knight

Legendary Sportscaster Spencer Ross Master of Chaos Kevin Knight

Posted: October 1, 2018

With his distinctive voice and smooth delivery, legendary sports broadcaster Spencer Ross was the soundtrack of my childhood.

Growing up, my dad was Public Affairs Manager at PSE&G and part of his duties were managing a Luxury Suite the company owned at Meadowlands Arena.  I was lucky enough to attend almost every event.  The suite was in section 108, dead center, behind the press box.  I sat behind Devils and Nets broadcasters and was fascinated with how it all worked.  The announcers would give me media guides and game notes.  I was just as interested in those broadcasting the game as I was in the players.

Spencer called the play-by-play on radio and television for almost every New York area sports franchise, including the Nets, Knicks, Yankees, Giants, Jets, Devils, Rangers and Islanders.  He did soccer and horseracing, hosted shows on WFAN and did updates on WINS.  Outside the New York market, he called games for Florida State and Boston Celtics.  Nationally, he worked for NFL on NBC, MLB on CBS Radio, and the Olympics.

As a student at William Paterson University, well-known for their top-notch radio and television departments, I got involved immediately.  The only problem was the faculty advisor taught us nothing.  All he did was write memos.  We were without guidance.  The summer between my sophomore and junior year, we all quit under protest.  WPSC immediately returned to the original faculty advisor who launched the station, John Kiernan.  We happily returned!  Kiernan was a true professional, teaching us the nuts-and-bolts of radio.  He previously owned a commercial station so he brought a no-nonsense, business-like approach to the table.  He ruled with an iron fist.  It was a welcomed change.    

I was promoted from Sports Director to Operations Manager, yet still did play-by-play announcing.  John taught me almost everything, however, he didn’t know sports.  Department chairperson Dr. Anthony Maltese and Dean George McCloud brought in Spencer as guest professor to teach a Sports Broadcasting course.  Having worked at the radio station for two years doing play-by-play for every Pioneer sporting event, I was first of 20 students to register.

Learning from Spencer in the classroom was a helluva wake-up call.  The first day of the semester, he asked the class “how many of you are involved in the radio or television stations?”  I was the only one.  He was baffled as to how 19 others could take a broadcasting class yet not be on the air.  We hit it off and in the first session I was really the only student who asked questions and participated in the group discussion. 

That Friday was the first football game of the season, and Spencer decided to pay a visit to the booth where I was the radio play-by-play man.  He thought I had potential and wanted to see what I could do in-person.  I was excited to have this legend critique my performance.  This dream opportunity soon turned into a disaster as I was terrible.  I was ill-prepared and had no clue what I was doing.  During every break, he ripped me.  "You aren't painting a picture for the listener!"  "You aren't telling a story!"  "You don't know the formations!"  "Why aren't you wearing a suit?"  “Why did you arrive 30-minutes early instead of 3-hours early?”  His parting words were “bring the tape of this game to class Monday!”

Monday arrives and he played the tape of my awful broadcast.  He ripped my mistakes apart during the entire three-hour class.  What a verbal beating!  If it was a fight, they would have stopped it!  But, he told me why I was wrong, how to correct it, and what I needed to do to improve.  It was constructive criticism.  I listened.  I got it.  I had my notebook and wrote down every word.  I didn't quit, and after class, I asked for extra help.  He gave me his phone number.

On his own time, he taught me lessons he learned from his mentor, the legendary Marty Glickman.  Spencer helped me prepare roster charts.  Told me how to read formations.  Explained how to tell a story and paint a picture.  He told me that a broadcaster, even on radio who isn’t seen by the listeners, needs to wear a suit because you represent the university.  He told me to go to practice during the week to talk with players and coaches.  Arrive 3 hours before kick-off.  Get on the field and get a feel for the game during pre-game drills.

My broadcast the next week was tremendous.  He played the tape in our next class, praised me and explained everything I did right.  The following week, he brought in Ian Eagle for a seminar, who was at WFAN and now does NFL on CBS.  Later, Erik Spitz held a seminar, who was WFAN operations manager.  After the four-month semester, I was the only student to receive an A.

I did radio play-by-play for football, men's and women's basketball, and baseball.  I then moved to television and did those same sports plus men’s and women's soccer, and volleyball.  My partner on television was Kevin Burkhardt.  Burkhardt took Spencer’s course the following semester and was the standout student in another group of 20.  He also got an A.

During this same time while still in college, I was working professionally at WGHT Radio in Pompton Lakes, NJ, as Morning Show Co-Host and Sports Director.  My first hire was Burkhardt, and we were partners again on the College and High School game of the week for football, basketball and baseball.  We made a great team!

Kevin moved on to WFAN, then joined the Mets on SNY, and now is a play-by-play man for NFL on FOX and studio host for MLB on FOX.  I was lucky to also work with many other soon-to-be stars at WPSC including Rich Kaminski of 106.7 WLTW, Joe "Monk" Pardavila of 95.5 WPLJ, and IWF Hall of Famer Richard Ross.

Spencer was a great mentor.  He taught me professionalism and the art of storytelling.  There is no handbook for success.  To learn any craft, you must listen to those who were successful in that profession, surround yourself with great people, and do whatever it takes to improve.  The lessons I learned from Spencer Ross are still carried with me today.

9:07 pm est          Comments

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Freedom Is Yours, Do With It As You Please by Southside Slugger Tony Graves

Southside Slugger Tony Graves 

Football season is finally over, and the champions of the NFL have been crowned. This past year in the NFL, there has been a change in atmosphere because of the climate that exist in America. This is the subject of policing in America and protest showcasing of NFL players across teams.

Players feel as though they need to use the platform of television to showcase their concerns with Police and the United States government in America. Now, I’m not here to say which side of the field I’m on, but the fact remains that players in the NFL or any sport for that matter have every right to protest and kneel for the mistreatment of people in America whether we agree with it or we don’t. That is a freedom that has been fought for, for them to do.

Before Southside Slugger was Southside Slugger, I spent 6 ½ years in the United States Army, a time that I don’t regret because I felt it was my duty as a citizen of this country to do so. Knowingly knowing I’d put my life on the line to preserve all the freedoms that we love each and every day.

Sometimes it saddens me to see everyone at each other’s throats for opinions and gestures that people like myself have fought for every citizen in this country to do and say. Sometimes we look at our own lives and we often are narrow minded to the fact that people may not share the same viewpoints as ourselves.

The point is, is that wherever you may stand politically or a decision someone makes, we have to step outside and look at the situation from others point of view and understand and empathize the concerns that they may face every day. We live in a place that is supposed to protect those decisions and freedoms.

At the end of the day, you would want the same thing for yourself. In conclusion, we as a country have spent the best part of 200 plus years protecting the rights and freedoms of every citizen in America. Do with it as you please.

2:50 pm est          Comments

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Who Are You by First-Class Justin Adams

First-Class Justin Adams T-Shirt 

It is essentially everyone’s goal in life to find a purpose, YOUR purpose; in other words, who you are. This is not an easy thing to accomplish, and many people feel that by the time you finally figure this out, unfortunately, it’s too late. I, however, do not believe this to be the case. I believe that you have a feeling deep down inside you that tells you the answer to this very question. Some people choose to ignore this feeling, others decide to embrace it.

When I was younger, I watched the Sister Act films, and in the second film Whoopi Goldberg’s character, Deloris Van Cartier/Sister Mary Clarence, spoke with a girl about being a singer. She quoted a book (Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke) and said, “If when you wake up in the morning you can think of nothing but writing…then you’re a writer.” (Clip of the scene can be found by clicking here)

This line had stuck with me because all I could think about was becoming a wrestler. I was always told that me being a wrestler was nothing but a ‘pipe dream;’ that I ‘can’t be a wrestler.’ However, I just knew that was what I was meant to be. Now the question was, what was I willing to do to make this ‘pipe dream’ a reality.

Dr. Tom Prichard believes there are three types of people: those who try and say at “least I’ve tried,” those who give it their best shot and say “at least I gave it my best shot,” and those who do whatever it takes. I wanted to be a wrestler so badly, because I felt that was what I was meant to do, I always told myself I’d do whatever it took. I feel that in the two years I’ve been wrestling, I’ve done just that. I’ve made personal sacrifices, transformed my body, and mentally prepared for the struggle I would be enduring. I may not (yet) be where I want to be, but I am on the right track and am getting closer to that goal every day. I’ve won championships, wrestled at the same events as wrestling Legends and Hall of Famers, and have even worked for WWE. I’ve pushed myself as hard as I could, and try to go even further. I am the third type of person mentioned above, which one are you?

I am a wrestler, who are you?!

11:01 am est          Comments

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Message From The Atkins Brothers

The Atkins Brothers 

Whats up IWF fans, its your favorite twins on the independent scene, Rob Atkins of the Atkins Brothers here to announce how excited we are for what is sure to be the biggest must see wrestling event of New Jersey!  With less than a hundred days until Loud and Proud 21, only one question remains unanswered:  What have the Atkins been doing since graduating and retaining the IWF Tag Belts the same night back at the IWF Center in Nutley? 

Since the IWF center closed her doors we have been wrestling all over the tri state area, beating out the competition and showing what it means to be a true wrestling team.  Most notably, my brother and I took over the tag division at the Worldwide Wrestling Alliance in Pennsylvania back in December to end off 2017.

It's been awhile since some of you may have seen us last, but for those of you who follow Brian and my tag pages you know that the Atkins have kept their roots of amateur wrestling, out grappling any and all opponents in the ring and using technique and speed to stay ahead of challengers. Just because we kept the same style of wrestling though doesn't mean we haven’t expanded our repertoire!  Specializing in submissions, we have been developing our own twists on some well-known classics you remember seeing legends tap out to when you were a kid.  We also have incorporated some intense, high octane moves that your gunna want to see! 

Brian and I are pumped to return to IWF for Loud and Proud, and can't wait to prove to everyone that we not only earned these tag belts, but that we have no plans on giving them up any time soon.

Follow my brother and I on FaceBook, Instagram, and remember to subscribe to our YouTube page for all the newest matches!

YouTube: Atkins Wrestling

Instagram: @AtkinsWrestling @BrianAtkinsWrestling

Facebook: Brian Atkins

5:58 pm est          Comments

Thursday, January 11, 2018

New Year's Resolutions Are a Waste of Time by Southside Slugger Tony Graves

Southside Slugger Tony Graves


The New Year is here and as they say, “out with the old and end with the new."  It’s very true that you should learn to improve yourself each and every day.  But here’s the problem with that... It seems as though people choose to improve themselves at the start of the year and stick to New Year’s resolutions for about two weeks and go back to business as usual and in the end they find themselves not improving at all.

This is why New Year’s Resolutions are a waste of time.  You’re simply not improving yourself.  You’re actually following the herd and doing what everyone else does and not completing whatever task you set out to do.

The true ability in wanting to change is not choosing one time a year to do certain task you set out for yourself, but to take any objective, task, and goal you want and make that change immediately.  If you want to get in shape, go to the gym immediately.  If you want to go back to school, don’t wait, start immediately.  The point that I’m trying to make is, if you hold off, you’ll never get to what you want and your life goals will be subjected to the first few weeks of the year every year.  Starting wherever you are at the moment, truly showcases your discipline and starting anything at the moment you’re in gives you a head start before everyone else.

In conclusion, start immediately because New Year’s Resolutions are a waste of time and holding off task only shows you don’t have the discipline to start something outside of the farce of New Year’s Resolutions that people tend to fall within.  Be a leader and set the tone for what it truly means to follow suit with accomplishing goals you set to complete.

1:54 pm est          Comments

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Thursday Motivation by First-Class Justin Adams

Justin Adams and Tommy Dreamer

As the new year approaches, people start thinking about what they’d like to do over the course of the next 12 months; they make ‘resolutions.’ Personally, I’ve never been one for resolutions, but it seems like the most common resolution to make is to go to the gym more/get in shape. Now, on the surface, this is all well and good, but getting in shape isn’t a resolution, it’s a lifestyle; and more often than not, it’s a complete lifestyle change.

Such a drastic change may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. However, you must want it. It’s not enough to just say, “My resolution for [2018] is to go to the gym more and get in shape.” You may realize that come January 1st, there is almost no time of the day when the gym is empty. However, by January 31st, it flips into almost the exact opposite. These people are often referred to as “Resolutioners” because they make the resolution to get healthy, but don’t really want it so they stop going. Instead of making time to go to the gym, they look for reasons (excuses) not to go. As mentioned earlier, getting healthy isn’t a resolution, it’s a lifestyle; you have to want it, and you have to want it for you. And if you do, you will make time for it and will be successful.

I know it’s easier said than done, but I am speaking from experience. One day, I go to the doctor to get a physical/check-up, and get told that I’m getting too heavy and need to lose weight. I also struggled with other issues such as high cholesterol. I had always been a thin and active kid, but began slowing down as I grew older. This resulted in my gaining weight, something I believe I was in denial about at the time. I had even started wearing bigger clothes to hide and weight gain. It wasn’t until I decided I was going to follow through on my dream to become a professional wrestler that I started losing weight and getting in shape.

Now, I say wanting to be a wrestler was the reason I began my journey to good health, but the truth is I wasn’t happy with how I looked or felt and finally just wanted to change it. In life, attitude is everything; so, the better I felt with myself, the more successful I would be in whatever I choose to peruse. THAT was my reason; I wanted to be happy with myself. You can say you want to do it for your kids, your significant other, your family, etc. but you have to want it for you. No one can do it for you, and no one can make you want to do it. It won’t be easy, but in the end, it will be more than worth it! 

2:37 pm est          Comments

Friday, December 8, 2017

You Are Who You're With by Southside Slugger Tony Graves

Southside Slugger Tony Graves

I write this with the utmost importance because what I’m about to talk about, has a long term effect on your overall self-development. In wrestling, what do the Tag Team groups The Rockers, The Four Horseman, Blunt Force Trauma, and The Street Kings has in common?  What they have in common is that each member of the group makes one another better and they are a positive influence on their self-development. I say that to say this, you are who you hang out with, whether bad or good. It’s up to you to determine that and adjust accordingly. I’ll use a couple examples to bring context to point.

Ex. 1: If you decide that you want to go to college or go back to college to better yourself, who do you hang around. You don’t hang around the people who have nothing going for themselves, working dead end jobs, who are going nowhere in life. You hang around college campuses to get the feel of a college atmosphere and more importantly, you hang around people who are already college students because they’re the people who are going to be most influential in your development. By proxy, you’re in a stage of progressive and influential self-development because you hang out with college students. Along with people who have your similar self-interest.

Ex. 2: If you want to work out and trying to live a healthier lifestyle but you hang around people who play video games all day every day and eat hot wings and drink beer nonstop, then more than likely, you are a hot wing eating beer drinker along with them. This is regressive for the lifestyle you’re trying to obtain. Unfortunately, you have to ditch those old friends that are a detriment to your hopeful lifestyle. Fortunately, by proxy you gain new friends who share a same love of wanting to work out and live healthier lives by going to gyms, parks, etc.

Bottom Line: Is if you want to be rich, hangout with wealthy people. If you want to work out, hangout with gym rats. If you want to be a coach potato and play video games, then hangout in a virtual reality world on Xbox Live. Just know though, who you hang out with is going to be a representation of who you are.

7:09 pm est          Comments

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017 by FIrst-Class Justin Adams

First-Class Justin Adams

After a non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner (NO ONE HAD TURKEY!!!), I am sitting here trying to figure out what I am going to write for this blog. As I am rewriting this for the fourth time, I am scrolling through social media, and see everyone making posts about Thanksgiving and what they are thankful for. This got me thinking about the “correct” answers we have been told to give, beginning at a very early age. However, I believe that as one grows and experiences life, they begin to realize why those answers are correct. This has become more evident for me over the past few years.

September 2014 began a rough time for my family. We had experienced 4 family deaths in the span of 10 months, beginning with my grandmother, with whom I was very close. My brother then fell ill with what turned out to be a muscle degenerative disease. Then, last year, my mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer; and after having been in remission, the cancer came back this past year. I know this kind of a downer, but it gets better!

“What are you thankful for?” Especially since my mother has now beaten cancer for the second time, all of these experiences made me realize that the answers we were told were correct ARE in fact the correct answer. More importantly the experiences made me realize WHY they were correct. I am thankful for my family; I am thankful for the family that I still have, and the memories of the good times with those I’ve lost. I am thankful for my friends; they have been my support system during those trying times. I am also thankful for wrestling. Not only did it give me something to do, to take my mind off the reality of what was going on, even if only for a short time, it also gave me people I now consider good friends FAMILY.

For what will now be 21 years this coming April, LOUD AND PROUD has been a major event in the Nutley, NJ area. It’s a night of great family-friendly fun with plenty of action from IWF Wrestling. However, the event took on a different life seven years ago when the it became a benefit for Relay for Life. This brought a new meaning to the event; a meaning that as you’ve come to know is really personal for me. If it wasn’t for organizations such as Relay for Life, I might not have had as much time as I had with some of my family, and my mother may not be with me today. So, I am thankful for Relay for Life, and for IWF Wrestling for making LOUD AND PROUD a benefit event.

Let’s end this on a high note!

Share with me on Social Media (@JustinAdams_6) your favorite Thanksgiving/Family gathering memories! Some fond ones of mine involve my mother, aunt, cousin, brothers, and myself poking fun at one of my grandmothers! It happens EVERY time without fail, even while we’re playing games! She tries to fight back, but she’s no match for us!

12:10 am est          Comments

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Benefits of Working Out: Series 1 by Southside Slugger Tony Graves

Southside Slugger Tony Graves 

As a professional wrestler, the greatest asset you have is the athleticism and your ability to use what you've received in the gym to your advance in the ring. The beauty of this is, is that we all come in all shapes and sizes and bring excitement and diversity in the ring. True indeed, this brings life not only for the fans of professional wrestling but to the wrestlers themselves. In addition, outside of the obvious external benefits of working out (fantastic physique!), you gain internal benefits that have a lasting affect on your body. As an applier of fitness, I want to bring the first three of many to come internal and external benefits of working out.

1. Sleep better - If you can't sleep and instead are prone to tossing and turning, exercising can help you sleep better. By strengthening circadian rhythms, exercising can help keep you more bright-eyed during the day and bring on sleep at night. It also promotes better quality sleep.

While the effects may not be an immediate quick fix - a recent study found that it can take up to four months for those beginning an exercise routine to have a positive effect on sleep ­- starting a working out plan is the only way to ensure you'll sleep soundly every night.

2. Increase strength and flexibility - If strength training and stretching aren't a part of your fitness routine, it's time to incorporate them. Though many adults engage in cardio activities, quite a few stay away from resistance training and building muscle - and that's a mistake.

Strength training, whether you're lifting weights, doing bodyweight exercises or incorporating yoga moves, helps improve muscle strength and muscle mass, particularly important as we age. It also keeps bones strong, thus serving as a great natural treatment for osteoporosis. Plus, increased muscle helps your body burn calories more efficiently long after your workout is over.

Improve memory - Are you constantly misplacing your keys or struggling to recall names? Exercising regularly can help jog your memory. A 2014 study found that aerobic exercise, like running or swimming, boosts the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning, in women with a recognized risk factor for dementia. Besides looking to brain food to boost your memory and mental skills, start breaking a sweat!

In conclusion, these three benefits serve us in our everyday lives. As a professional wrestler myself, these three benefits are essential not only in the ring but out the ring too. How can the Southside Slugger perform at 110% if I don't get sleep, have strength, or have improved memory. So, start working out and gain these three benefits so you too can be the best you.

*Disclaimer: Even if you apply these principles, you still can't beat the Southside Slugger. Hahahahahahahahahahaha

1:08 pm est          Comments

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