Thursday, June 30, 2011
The Cave, the fortress, the dungeon or the hole, all names apply. It is where I spent the majority of my days the past three years. It is where I drank swill, aka the coffee from the business office, with Brad Jones in the morning to start the day. The cave almost wasn’t even my home. Brad pulled me out of the Sports Information office, seeing that it was already cramped and would become even more cramped once students arrived, and into his newly converted storage closet that would serve as command central for the newly created Duke athletics video department. On day one, all that existed in the room was a long desk that was mounted on the wall stretching the length of the room, a Dell laptop, a Mac Desktop and two Penn State graduates. A recipe, if not for disaster, but the potential for a lot of hilarity, both ensued.
In a blink of an eye all the space that existed would become engulfed by cameras, racks, towers, bags, monitors, switchers, audio boards, lights, tripods, cables and just the general clutter that two people who grew up in Western Pennsylvania generally amass over the course of a few weeks. A filing system was non-existent. Once a day a notepad would exist with scribblings from a meeting written on it, the next day that same notepad would be long gone. Flash drives, forget about it, they never stood a chance, countless were lost, but never forgotten.
“Have you seen the blue junk drive?”
“Not in weeks.”
But somehow it worked. Before long the new video board in Cameron Indoor Stadium was installed and with it a rack of equipment would be stationed in the back left corner, taking up more space. Another monitor. A switcher. A TV mounted on the wall. An Aja digital conversion box, a beta player, external hard drives, firewires, old cups of coffee, bottles of water that were now half way filled with chew spit, a Mac laptop, a box of donuts, all of this now filled the room, the desk, the work space, and essentially, the storage closest that was emptied to house the video department became a storage closest once again, but yet, it was still so much more.
This was only the beginning of the mess that would be created, over even more time Croc Pots would be used to keep beer cold, five pound bags of Mike & Ike’s, Reese Cups and peanut M&M’s would live on the desk, if only briefly. A shot clock, yes that’s right, the backup shot clock for Cameron Indoor Stadium would make The Cave its home, of course with its buzzer disabled, but other than that fully functioning. Another desk would be added, pulled from the hallway because Brad would have rather kept it in the office than have it thrown away. The desk just added another location for us to pile coffee makers, clothes, whisky and paper.
Since shelves were not in the budget, we improvised. Finding an old basketball rack in the hallway, along with some wooden planks, and before you knew it we had ourselves a shelf. Quickly it was covered with DVD’s (Seinfeld, Dumb & Dumber, Gladiator), a giant stuffed lobster, a Pittsburgh Maulers helmet, a bottle of Aleve that had an assortment of different colored pills in it, Blowpops, trophy’s, books, media guides, papers, everything, simply, we had everything but somehow we never could FIND anything.
That first year, with The Cave still evolving into what it would fully become, was my favorite, and my proudest year for what Brad was able to accomplish and pull off with zero budget. Things might not have always looked great. Cables may have been hung off lights and through ceiling tiles. The Fire Marshall may have given us fearful looks, but everything worked. It functioned in a way that the people out enjoying the show in Cameron, watching the videos on GoDuke.com, would have thought everything was roses behind the scenes. In reality, we were rushing. Software and hard drives were crashing. Video boards were freezing, but somehow, and I give all the credit to Brad, it worked when it needed to.
And in a way that is the best way to describe The Cave and us. It worked when it needed to and we had things done when we needed to. When the chips were down and the deadlines were upon us, we got things to work; we finished projects, exported files, filmed games, created highlights all when it needed to be done, even if we had went home at 3:00 a.m. the night before or were going on our seventh game in ten nights. So what if occasionally we spent an hour on YouTube laughing at videos, or Facebook, or making an extra coffee run, or taking a little bit longer at lunch, or simply just driving around Durham, because as much as we needed The Cave to be our place and feel like it belonged to us, there were times when we needed to be anywhere else but that room.
I’m sure I’ll never work inside an office like The Cave again. It was its own animal. It was not for the weak minded. It was our brainchild. It functioned how we thought… scattered in 10 different directions. But it was home, through the good times and the bad, the one constant was that office. It was always there, ready to house whoever wanted to stop by, to talk about work, to complain about their boss, to vent, to cry, to laugh, it served as something for everyone that stepped into it… If only those walls could talk….
Three years later the room has come full circle. Brad is gone. Chad is fully situated as the new director of video operations. He tried to clean up The Cave. He succeeded for about eight months. It is back to being a mess now, despite some slight changes. I fought Chad's need to be organized and brought the room back to its rightful clutter just before walking away. It looks good.