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Meet the Commenters: rockchalk

An up close and personal interview with the founder.

The 2012 ESPY Awards - Backstage & Audience Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Thanks for joining us rockchalk. Let's start at the beginning. For those who don't know, you started Rock Chalk Talk as a high schooler. How did that come about? How did you get started?

I had gotten into a couple of the early age sports blogs shortly after moving to Southern California immediately before high school and needing a connection back to the city I still felt was my home. I mostly perused Royals blogs, like Royales With Cheese and Rob and Rany on the Royals, and happened upon SB Nation. I honestly don't even remember how. But they were still basically brand new and, luckily for me, had a fairly low barrier for entry. I saw a Bloggers Wanted ad and actually sent in interest in running the Royals site. They said they were already developing Royals Review, but they were really trying to build up their college sites. I offered to run the Kansas one and boom. Deal done.

They came up with the name. They provided the initial logo. They did all of the work. They basically just handed over the reigns and let me figure it out. I mean this in the best way possible; I had to send in a couple of writing samples but hadn't exactly built out a strong portfolio. Them allowing me to find my footing and figure out the site I wanted to run was part of what made SB Nation such a cool place.

Running a site like this at a young age must have been difficult. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in those early years?

Well, there's one obvious answer that anybody who read the site back then (thank you!) would know. I had a nasty habit of promising features and then never delivering, or promising a once-a-week thing that ended up coming twice a month on random days. It was easy to have great ideas of previewing the entire football schedule one week at a time. It was a little more difficult to spend a couple hours every week diving deep into Central Michigan's football prospects come finals week.

More than anything though it was building a community. The site truly took off and gained a solid following after Denverjayhawk came into the mix, but before that I would post game threads that would have 12 comments.

What are some of your favorite memories from running the site?

I have a couple. They all come from basically the same timeframe, the 2008-09 season, when the site exploded in popularity and game threads became the best part of watching the Jayhawks play basketball. Off-day random 'game threads' would garner 1200 comments and insular memes began popping up, like the Rally Pacific Life Whale.

There were a couple times during that season where I'd hop on late in the day after not perusing the site at all and seeing a self-cultivated community, discussing a million things and dissecting the KenPom preview I had put together the night before. Knowing I had played a part in building this community that other human beings were investing significant time into was pretty sweet. The actual memories of living through the same basketball games with other people across the country were definitely the best part, though.

I also have hung out with someone I met on the site IRL and stay in touch through twitter, which is pretty neat.

What made you step away from the site?

Time, basically. I sometimes still think back and kick myself for leaving the site altogether. It was the right move to allow Denver to run the site as once I went off to college I simply didn't have the time required to invest. But I chose to drop it altogether to focus on college, both in and out of the classroom, and while I loved my college experience I still wish I had kept up with sports writing. Especially seeing how so many of my then-peers have parlayed their experience with SB Nation into more full-time opportunities covering sports, it's a source of regret.

Another factor was I attended Xavier University and, as sacrilegious as this likely is given the context of this interview, I found myself paying more and more attention to Xavier. Today, Xavier is clearly my favorite basketball team even though I still love the Jayhawks. So losing a bit of that fanaticism surely didn't help my time management choices.

Lets talk about you for a moment. Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What did your folks do?

I grew up in Kansas City, moving to Lexington when I was 11. I lived there for 3 years then moved out to California, where my parents and brothers still reside. Moving out to a sports abyss and wanting to connect back to my childhood was a huge reason into how I got into sports blogging and, if anything, has intensified my connection to Kansas City sports. As I mentioned I went to Xavier University, graduating in 2013, and still live in Cincinnati.

My dad worked in the newspaper industry while I was growing up, which is why we moved around a lot. He wasn't a journalist, though, he worked in advertising and sales.

Now I understand you didn't attend KU. Was it a difficult decision to attend another school after creating the greatest Kansas Jayhawk website ever?

Haha you're too kind. Actually, no, I never really considered KU. I was deadset on going somewhere that nobody in my family had ever gone. I wanted to carve my own path yadda yadda yadda. Life's a fun, idyllic place when you're 17. I also wanted to get as far away from California as I could. I'd be lying if I expected to become such a huge fan of Xavier but I was sure that I wanted to go somewhere that wasn't KU. And now I'm about to renew for my fourth season of Xavier season tickets and will cry the day they make the Final Four. So, I guess it worked out.

What are you currently up to? Do you still have the sports blogging bug?

Well, currently I work for Enterprise Rent-a-Car. I started in January of 2016 and actually thoroughly enjoy it. A lot of logistics, it's a fast-paced job where you are moving around a fair bit and not just sitting behind a desk. It's been good.

Before that, however, I worked for the Cincinnati Reds for four years. I was in ballpark operations, which sounds far more exciting than it actually was. I essentially helped carry out the day-to-day operations of the ballpark, which included a massive amount of moving furniture. I was on staff and in a gameday management role during the All Star season, however, which afforded me a bunch of really cool memories.

I'm not writing at all and, save the occasional piece or two, haven't written consistently since 2013. I still sometimes wonder how far I could have taken writing, and I suppose it's far from too late to try. But I'm focused on my IRL career at the moment.

Age 25

Height 6'4"

Where do you live Cincinnati (Oakley if you're familiar with the area)

Facial hair Had a beard for about 3 years straight now

Any pets Nope landlord doesn't allow 'em

What kind of car do you drive 2003 Toyota Corolla. It's paid off and I'm riding her around til she dies

Corrective lenses Yes, glasses some days and contacts on others

Hair style I don't know how to answer this

Favorite movie Good Will Hunting, I guess

Favorite tv show The Office

Favorite beer or thing to drink MadTree Psychopathy or Rhinegeist Truth, two locally brewed IPAs. Besides beer my favorite drink is water

Favorite band Kendrick Lamar

Favorite food Burritos

Favorite non KU team Xavier

All time favorite KU player This is impossibly tough. But probably Markieff Morris

First concert Barenaked Ladies

First w-2 job Pizza delivery for Marco's Pizza

Best athlete seen play live LeBron James

Favorite dinosaur when you were a kid Raptor cause I loved Vince Carter

Is a hot dog a sandwich Two pieces of bread surrounding meat? Sure sounds like a sandwich to me

Was Tyshawn right to dunk Absolutely