Holiday Exclusive – Fans of the Heart and From the Heart  –What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than to share from our own hearts? Sit back, relax, grab some chocolates and read what Brooks, Shannon Ruchir and Gavin are most passionate about in sports!

BROOKS BYERS – Digital Director

*Brooks and his better half at a Baylor game!

What’s Your Favorite Sport? College football

Why Do You Love College Football So Much? I love college football because even a
game with no impact on the national championship race can mean everything to
the players and fans at the game. The passion for the universities/teams brings
people together in a really unique way.

Who Is Your Favorite Player? Robert Griffin III

What Is Your Favorite College Football Memory? My freshman year at Baylor, when Terrance Williams scored with ten seconds left to beat a top-5 OU team and our student section rushed the field.

SHANNON HOOPER – VP Partnerships

*Passing on the passion to the next generation!

What’s Your Favorite Sport? UNC Basketball

Why Do You Love UNC Basketball So Much? Being a student at the University
of North Carolina, basketball is a right of passage and religion.  I have so many memories of going to games, including my husband Clay and I’s first date. It was actually a UNC vs. Duke game (the best rivalry in sports, where last time I checked the Heels still lead).  Let’s just say it was not the best end to
a date (which had nothing to do with the company) because UNC lost in double overtime. My little Tar Heels Lia and Van have already been to their 1st game at the age of 4 of 2 (photos included)

Who Is Your Favorite UNC Basketball Player (do we even have to ask)? Has to be Michael Jordan

What Is Your Favorite UNC Basketball Memory? I grew up watching Chicago Bulls games with my father and loved the old flashbacks to Jordan wearing Carolina Blue.  My 6th grade teacher had us write letters to ourselves telling the older version what we wanted to do when we graduated high school.  This amazing teacher kept the letters and was there on our graduation day to hand them out.  I had forgotten all about
the letter and what I wrote but was not surprised to read my 6th grade handwriting telling me that I would play Volleyball at the University of North Carolina. As the fight song goes “I’m a Tar Heel born I’m a Tar Heel bred…”

RUCHIR SHAH – Director, Analytics & Business Intelligence


*Teaching them young,
cheering on India against Pakistan in the 2015 World Cup!

 What’s Your Favorite Sport? Cricket

Why Do You Love Cricket So Much? I started engaging with the sport
of cricket very early in life since it’s tough to be away from it if you live
in India. As a sport, I love it’s many nuances. It can
seem complicated with all the laws of the game but it’s a beautiful sport and
requires a fair amount of physical and mental skill to be good at it. Cricket
also has had its fair share of colorful and talented personalities from across
the globe which makes it a fun sport to follow. Also, cricket is the one thing
that brings an entire country of a billion people together. In a very diverse
country with hundreds of religions creating divides between people, cricket is
the one “religion” that is the ultimate unifier. For all these reasons and many
others, cricket will always be my favorite sport!

Who Is Your Favorite Cricketer? Sourav Ganguly,
who played in the late nineties and early 2000’s. He was a great player but an
even better captain and even today is regarded as one of the finest captains to
have led the Indian team.

What Is Your Favorite Cricket Memory? There are so many to choose from! My
entire childhood was spent playing and watching cricket. My favorite memory is
watching India win against Australia in 2001 in what probably still ranks among
the top 3 most thrilling Test matches of all time. I had exams going on at the
time but decided to leave half-way so I could catch the end of the game. I
couldn’t go home since I was supposed to be at the exam for another couple
hours and my parents would not be very accepting of the fact that I skipped a
really important exam for a cricket game. So I ended
up watching the game outside an electronics store on one of their display TV’s,
surrounded by at least a hundred people who were taking a break from whatever
they were supposed to do to watch the game. India won, setting off the craziest
celebrations. It was an amazing moment and what made it even more fun was that
I celebrated with complete strangers who all shared my joy!

GAVIN WILKINSON – Digital Coordinator


*Baby Gavin the hockey fan, and adult Gavin the hockey player!

What’s Your Favorite Sport? Ice Hockey

Why Do You Love Ice Hockey So Much? When I grew up my entire family played,
my mom and dad still play to this day. I started skating when I was around 3 or
4 and played my first game at age 5 in Dallas, Texas. I sort of grew up in the
“boom” of hockey in North Texas. The Stars won the Stanley Cup in 1999 and I
was at the perfect age to take full advantage of the success they had. Family
wise, hockey has always been the one thing that everyone in my family has had
in common. My dad has season tickets to the Dallas Stars games, we talk about
them in almost all of our conversations. I truly love the sport.

Who Is Your Favorite Ice Hockey Player? All-time it’s Mike Modano. He is a
Dallas Stars legend and was always my idol growing up. He grew the sport in the
Southern US and inspired me on and off the ice. Currently it’s either Alexander
Radulov or Alexander Ovechkin. I love watching players that give it their all
every shift.

What Is Your Favorite Ice Hockey Memory? May 4th 2008,
Dallas Stars vs San Jose Sharks game 6 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals. I
will never forget this game… The Stars won 2-1 on a goal scored by the captain
Brendan Morrow in the 4th overtime. I will usually go back and watch the
extended highlights once every few months, you cannot replicate that energy,
but it’s always favorite memory of mine. I was 12 at the time and I believe the
game ended around 2:30am local time. I didn’t have to go to school the next day
because I was up so late. I will never forget that game.

BONUS Q. What Is Your Favorite Personal Ice Hockey Moment? I played hockey in college at Texas A&M University. As a lot of people know
there is a big rivalry between the University of Texas and Texas A&M, we no
longer play football against each other, so when we play them in hockey it’s
actually a big deal. We play UT on senior night every season, my senior night
was a once and a lifetime experience. There were about 2,500 people in the
arena (we normally have around 100-200 people). It was incredibly loud and full
of energy. Probably the only time in my athletic career when I felt like a
professional athlete.

We hope you enjoyed getting to know us a
little better. Comment below with what you love about sports for a chance to
win chocolates!

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