Hi, my name is Ryan Wooden, and I write about sports. It may seem weird to announce it like I'm in a therapy group for troubled sportswriters (AKA all sportswriters), but it seemed like a relevant sentence considering the fact that I'll be writing a column about sports on this very site. I also would like to point out that I have been referred to as a buffalo chicken bon vivant, although that seems a bit less relevant.
I'll predominantly write about the Tennessee Volunteers in this weekly column that will run on Tuesdays, which is good, because I have been informed that this is a Tennessee blog and my previous endeavors in writing about archery haven't exactly been successful.
You people just don't appreciate the beauty of archery.
That's neither here nor there. As a matter of fact, neither is the title of this post. Other than the fact that it's a Vols hat and this is a Vols column (I promise we'll get there), it really has absolutely no pertinence whatsoever. It sounds kind of cool, though.
Anyways, back to me. (Note to aspiring sportswriters: being SLIGHTLY conceited will work in your benefit. It takes a special kind of arrogance to assume that people should be interested in what you have to say.) I am from the Chicago area, but I attended the University of Tennessee, and now I chortle violently -- like Verne Lundquist violently -- at all the moronic people I grew up with who still seem to think that Big Ten football somehow deserves to mentioned in the same sentence as the brand being played in the SEC. You know, the kind of people who cite Minnesota's dominance of the early 1900's as material.
I started writing as a hobby nearly two years ago now, and I was lucky enough to catch the eye of a few people that helped me turn this into an actual career. None more important than Joel Barker, who covered Tennessee for BleacherReport.com and was also the editor at KnoxVegasVols.com.
Joel plucked me away from B/R and gave me the creative freedoms of being the lead columnist and de facto assistant editor at KVV, and though it never had the financial payoff either of us had hoped, it gave me considerable confidence in my skills moving forward. At my home in Chicago I started freelancing for my local daily newspaper, and everything has snowballed from there.
Now, I'm lucky enough to do this full-time. It can be a little like prostitution from time to time, selling myself to the highest bidder; unlike prostitution, I've got a decent chance of remaining disease-free. As a whole, it's been absolutely incredible and I enjoy it more than I ever thought possible. In the past year my work has been featured on several very large national websites and in many regional magazines.
I still work regularly with my local newspaper, and recently I've become a credentialed member of the Chicago media covering the Chicago Bears. However, despite all that, I still needed a place to write about my beloved Vols -- a place to sound off on the joys and frustrations that come with the territory -- and that's why I contacted the fellas over here at Checkerboard Chatter about writing a weekly column.
When I was over at KVV, I was lucky enough to develop a modest following and Derek Lusk, Drew Pirtle, Eric Taylor and the rest of the gang have always been supportive, routinely linking my work in their "Pick 6" section. Now, they've welcomed me to their website.
I won't be paid for this column, and don't expect to be anytime soon, but that doesn't mean I'll half-ass it by any stretch of the imagination. At least, it won't be anymore half-assed than the rest of my work.
To put it bluntly, I'm doing this because I love the Vols.
That being said, there will be an obvious Big Orange-slant, but I'm by no means a sunshine-pumper. I'll be "keepin' it real."
There will be some intentionally bad puns, some accidentally insightful commentary, and a lot of jokes about Vanderbilt. There may even be some actual reporting because, as a journalist, sometimes I just can't help myself.
That's what you can expect from "The Legend of Bill Dance's Hat."
Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryan_wooden.