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Media Day is an event that, hence the name, is only open to the media - TV, radio, newspapers - and is closed to the public. I got on the Storm's press release email list and received a notice about this year's Media Day. I thought, what the heck, and asked if I could attend, just observe, take some photos and report back to the fans on what goes on during this event. Andrew Herdener graciously agreed (thanks, I owe you one) as long as I didn't intrude on interviews or such. No problem, I'm there.

For me, this was fascinating. There were photo set-ups on one side, a video shoot on the other with impromptu interviews happening all around. Each player had a Storm staffer as their guide and media go-between. As the players made the rounds to each photo or video station, the various reporters or news crews would pull them aside and conduct the interviews. Many of the reporters had their own entourages and had specific set-ups in one corner or another (FOX for one), while others roamed around and followed the players.

The Storm make use of this day to get all the still and video images they will use of the players in the season's marketing materials and/or video clips. All of the in-game video pieces where they have the players start a cheer or say something to pump up the crowd was captured in a video room by the dressing rooms. In the main training gym, another video booth was capturing front and side head shots, serious and smiling, for player intros. There were two photo studio set-ups - one for ID photos (blue screen, digital camera) and the one for marketing shots. The Storm's primary photographer, Jeff Reinking (he always sits under the basket in front of the Storm bench during the games) was doing all the shooting here. Each player would stand on a white seamless background and he would have them do various things like dribble, pass or fake shooting. For most of the players, this would take about 5 to 10 minutes. For some it was very quick. For Sue Bird, she ended up coming back 2 or 3 times for a total of at least 45 minutes of photos. Simone, Jamie and Semeka also had extended shoots. If the number of photos relates to a players marketing potential and likelihood for a roster spot, I think those 4 players are in for sure. Sue was a trooper and is most probably used to this kind of attention, although it did seem she was getting pretty bored with it all. I think Coach Dunn's real reason for drafting Sue stems back to comments Coach made at the end of last year about having the players be the "face" of the Storm's marketing. Well, she definitely got that when she drafted Sue Bird.

When Sue first entered the gym (she's shorter than I expected), she was instantly surrounded by reporters. The only time over the course of the next couple of hours she had a rest was when she got a call on her cell phone and sat down to answer it. Otherwise, she was talking non-stop. I felt like I needed to stand back a bit since she was in such demand, so I didn't really get to hear much of what she was being asked. The other interview favorite was Michelle Marciniak. She too was being interviewed basically non-stop. The questions always seemed to gravitate toward her coming battle with Sue for the starting point guard spot. I eavesdroped on a couple of the interviews and it sounded like Michelle was handling herself extremely well. She pointed out that she is in the best shape of her life, that she weighs the same she did in high school, that she has been working on her game through the offseason, and that she welcomes the competition Sue presents. One reporter asked her about her career and pointed out that she hasn't been on the same team for two years running since she graduated. She agreed and said that the Storm is the first team that she has the chance to hit two years, she is determined to make a place for herself here.

I talked to Tony Ventrella from Seattle's Channel 7 and asked him what he looks for when he comes to events like this. He smiled and said that sports isn't really news, it's entertainment. These kinds of events are basically PR for the teams and he and the other sports reporters play along, just like they do with the Sonics, Seahawks and Mariners. If this were politician or any other kind of business holding an event like this, the reporters would come in more skeptical. But since it is entertainment, it's all fine. He said that he tries to get a couple good pictures, maybe a couple sound bites and will use it to let his auidence know about the Storm. He sounded a bit cynical, but I can see his point.

I had a chance to talk to Semeka about her time in Israel this year. I told her that everything we've been hearing have painted a pretty bleak picture of daily life. She said that where she played was relatively removed from all the West Bank and that she never really felt threatened. She left for Israel last September, so her Mom was worried, but everything was fine. Because she was there for 7 months and the WNBA season is only about 3 months, I asked her if the summer doesn't feel like the offseason instead of the other way around. She said no, that the Israeli league only plays once a week and while the practices are tough they are not nearly as intense as the ones here. The WNBA season still feels like the "on" season.

One more thing about Michelle Marciniak - she has mad crazy ball skills. She put on a show for the video crew by doing this alternating two ball bounce behind her back through her legs routine that had jaws dropping all over the gym. I told Sarah Childs, the Storm's Community Relations Coordinator, that they should just film 3M doing that for their tv ads with the headline, "You cannot do this." I was so astounded that I forgot to take a picture.

Overall, this was an interesting event (for me at least). I like to think of myself as an amateur member of the media, so it was cool to see the "real" media in action. One more thing - why was it necessary for FOX to conduct all of their interviews lying or squating on the floor?

 

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