By Tara Wheeler
Being Miss Virginia last year helped get my foot in the door to my dream job as a sports reporter and now I get to see my athlete buddies from a different perspective. As a new-hire at Comcast Sports Net, part of my job is to gather sound during locker room interviews for the Caps and the Redskins. One of the greatest things I’ve noticed is the bond between the players of these two teams. Several times this season I’ve been in the Redskins locker room only to turn around and see Mike Green and Nick Backstrom walking in to visit their friends in burgundy and gold.
Likewise, Redskins stars can be seen trotting around the Verizon Center. After asking Alex Ovechkin a few questions in the locker room post-game, I saw his eyes light up as he looked behind me, flashed his jack-o-lantern grin and hollered "Coooooooooooooooooooolleeeeeeyyyyy!!!!!" to his BFF who came to congratulate the Caps on their win! You’d never guess these guys were some of the most talented, toughest, highest-paid, athletes in the country with millions of fans and pressures upon them… when they’re around each other they just seem like goofy little boys excited to see their pals.
A couple of weeks ago while I was interviewing the Geico Caveman at a Skins game (don’t ask…), Coach Bruce Boudreau stopped by to say hi! Believe me, I was glad he did! The Caveman was giving me a hard time until Bruce brought some jolly to the scene. He is such an awesome guy and makes me smile every time I see him! We ragged on the Caveman for being so hairy… Bruce and I happen to have the same bald hairstyle and I have to say, we look gooooood. I mean, reeeeallly good J. Two months ago I shaved my head to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for pediatric cancer research and I definitely stand out as the bald reporter in the press box!
The Caps have been super supportive of my charitable efforts even inviting me to sing the National Anthem and show off my new do’ at one of the pre-season games. Jorge Fernandez and the rest of the staff at the Front Page in Ballston (responsible for keeping the Caps fed on a regular basis) organized an event during training camps where myself and Caps rookies got together and guest bartended to raise money for the charity. Mike Green even approached me at the Sneaker Ball to tell me about a dream he had that he was bald too! Do I see a trend catching on?
As a new reporter, I can tell you it gets kind of intimidating asking questions to coaches and players, especially after a rough game, but the boys of the Caps organization are always kind and respectful. I believe, out of every sport, hockey players are the kind of guys you could bring home to mom… Maybe I’m biased, being a hockey player myself, but I think the boys in red are something to cheer about on and off the ice!
Miss Virginia 2008