A time to reflect
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Forrest Gump said, "It used to be I ran to get where I was going. I never thought it would take me anywhere."

Twenty-two months ago, almost on the dot, this strange journey called life took me to Hatboro, Pennsylvania.

It's a funny story how I got here.

I didn't serve in Vietnam or catch shrimp on a boat with Lieutenant Dan. I didn't even play ping pong against the Chinese national team.

I just wanted to write.

When The Sports Network let me, well, I jumped at the chance.

That wasn't something a lot of places were willing to do. I was only 21, fresh out of college, with a sports blog few people outside my circle of friends ever visited.

I graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, one of the best schools for broadcasting in the country. The only problem was, I wasn't a broadcaster!

It took me a little longer than most to figure that out. Two years into my broadcast journalism degree, I began an internship with the Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A team of the Washington Nationals.

I didn't get to broadcast much while I was there. They already had two guys who were pretty good at that: Jason Benetti and Mike Couzens. If you've watched college basketball on ESPN at all this season, odds are, you've heard one of them call a game.

They coached me as much as they could but by the middle of the season I realized, I didn't want to call games. Writing was what really interested me.

So for the next two years, I wrote and wrote. And then I wrote some more.

I didn't stop writing until The Sports Network called me. The article that caught their attention was a 2000+ word piece I called "The 17 Commandments of Fantasy Baseball." They told me they wanted to bulk up their fantasy department and I said let's do it.

Well, maybe it wasn't that simple. It wasn't like I was moving to Arizona but I knew I'd be far away from my friends and family in Connecticut.

And at first, that part wasn't easy. Neither was working 3-11 most nights and almost every weekend.

Some of my columns have been big hits. Others ... not so much.

Sometimes the words just fly off my fingertips and onto the screen. Other days, I stare at a blank Word document for half an hour wondering how those words came so easily the day before.

I have friends who do all kinds of things. I know engineers, teachers, accountants, web designers. And I marvel at what they do. I still don't know what a hedge fund is and I probably never will. Trust me, it's been explained to me on multiple occasions.

What they do is hard. But so is writing! What I will say though, is that when you write a good article, and you'll know when you do, it feels good. Really good. Probably better than anything in the world.

I know I've written some funny, creative stuff while I've been here but I wasn't sure who noticed. That's why I was blown away when I found out I'd been named a finalist in three categories at the upcoming Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards in Las Vegas.

It's one of the highlights of my life so far along with getting into Syracuse and accepting a job at TSN.

My mom's way of telling me I got into 'Cuse was by throwing an orange at me. As far as I remember, no fruit was harmed when I got the phone call I'd be joining TSN.

People always say getting nominated for an award, especially when you weren't expecting it, is a humbling experience. I'm not sure humbling is the right word.

Can't I just be excited?

Seriously though, I'm trying not to be overwhelmed by all of it. I'm trying to be the normal amount of whelmed, if that's possible.

I'm not sure exactly what will happen if I win. I hear I may get a trophy or some type of plaque. And I imagine "award-winning journalist" would be fun to add to my LinkedIn profile.

Of course, this is all hypothetical. With my luck, I'll probably lose all three.

I guess I'm just thankful for the opportunity that I've been given by both The Sports Network and the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. The fantasy industry is really booming right now and I'm proud to be a part of it.

By Thursday night I'll know if I won any awards. But I don't think it will change me.

As far as I'm concerned, I'm still the same idiot who got clubbed in the face by a poorly thrown citrus. Nice aim, Mom.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.