I remember reading an Ariel Helwani Q & A several years ago on Thomas and wanted to do more of a feature piece on him for FIGHT!. I pitched, they accepted and off we went. But pro athletes in the “traditional” sports are a bit tougher to track down than their MMA counterparts, sometimes to a maddening degree.
Thankfully, this wasn’t the case but it still took a while. I used to work for a pro hockey team and understand the athlete’s workday pretty well. There’s a lot of hard work but there’s a lot of downtime too. I was glad to be able to work everything out, which is more than I can say for another Boston team that I was attempting to work with. That story will hopefully have a happy ending…someday in 2015.
After leaving several messages on voicemail and getting nowhere, I took to Twitter (of course!) and asked if anyone could help out. I hate doing biz in public like that, but desperate times call for desperate social media efforts. And hey, it worked!
The next day, I got an email/call from Eric in their PR department and after several months of trying to figure out a good time for a phone call, we found a window when the team was in Vanouver on a long layoff.
Tim called me on a late-Thursday afternoon and we had a great 30-minute chat about his love of MMA, where it came from and basically anything but hockey. Having worked in the sport for so long, I knew it was going to be fun. Hockey players are very similar to MMA talent in that they are tough dudes who enjoy being tough dudes. For the most part, they can have normal conversations like most normal people and that’s refreshing.
The shifting of conversation away from hockey was done by design as Thomas and many other athletes talk about their professions constantly. Especially in the Boston media, they are doing interviews non-stop about the same subject over and over and over again. I thought it’d be a nice break for Thomas to discuss something other than the ice, even though we did chat a bit about his scrap with Montreal goalie Carey Price earlier this season.
So I encourage you to pick up April’s FIGHT! and check out the feature, along with the other great writing in there. As always, let me know what you think and be on the lookout for another big athlete piece in May’s FIGHT! as well.