My first post on BN was on December 2, 2006.
I remember it specifically because Eric McNeal just went legend and seven horrible years of frustration were coming to a totally unexpected and unbelievably welcome end. I tore through my house in utter delirium, jumping, screaming, celebrating like I'd won the lottery.
And no one was there to share it.
I don't remember now where my family was, but I do know they weren't there because in that moment of unadulterated happiness I found myself alone, and I suddenly realized how much I wanted - how much I needed - someone to share that moment with.
I'd lurked on BN for a while, mostly to get info on BBall but I'd never posted a comment. I thought the newfangled blog world was just for tech savvy and socially activated kids. But this was a momentous occasion. After a little while, I got up the nerve and logged on and wrote what seemed like kinda lame comment in the post game thread.
BruinBabe2000 promptly replied to it, echoing my joy with hers. And reading that thread suddenly felt like being in a stadium and hugging random people, not because I knew who they were but because I knew they were Bruins, and that meant they understood the moment and felt the same way as I did.
So when my family wasn't there, BN was. This site became part of my family that night, and it has been ever since.
Fast forward 8+ years from that night and after a few more comments and some posts I'm still here spending time with my virtual Bruin family. That night and that comment started something that is still rolling. I owe BN for rekindling a love and rebuilding a link to my school that had gotten lost among the business of life. For that, I owe every single one of you out there in BN land a thanks for making this the best online Bruin community on the Internet, and I owe Nestor and all of his crew an enormous thank you for creating and building this place for all of us.
One quick peek behind the curtain...I asked Nestor last week if he'd like to add something on this big anniversary and he politely declined. BN was his baby for 9+ incredible years, and believe me, no one put more time and effort and heart into anything, and it's hard to see others assume responsibility for something like that. Believe me, I understand. I just dropped my kids off with my mother-in-law for 5 days, and I'm terrified that I won't be there to watch over them this week. So I consider it a tribute to Nestor that his insistence on excellence and responsibility and consistency are applied to friends and coworkers in the same way they have been applied to Karl Dorrell and Dan Guerrero and Gene Block. His standards are hard to achieve. It's not always comfortable and it's never easy.
But isn't that the whole point?
That's what Coach taught, and it is ultimately what started Bruins Nation and what has driven it throughout its decade of existence. It's what we all should strive for, and it's what we will continue to push from BN.
The moments after McNeal's incredible play explain why.
It's often overlooked, but his interception did not end the game. We got the ball back with 70 seconds but $c had 3 timeouts. With victory in our grasp, our coaches called 3 predictably safe plays and we then had to punt the ball back to the trogans.
No way could they block the punt, right? No way could they break a return, right? No way could they rip out our hearts and toss a Hail Mary, right? At the moment that should have been our greatest joy in years, there was still that tinge of fear and doom and disbelief whether the right thing was really going to happen.
And that's why BN was there at all. To celebrate. To share. And to remind us to be vigilant about what U.C.L.A. is about: pursuing excellence.
The reason I came to BN was right there in that joyous moment on the field. And the reason I stayed at BN and why I'm still at BN today was right there in that fearfully uncertain moment on the field. It is a testament to the founders of this place that both sides were represented here.
So looking forward. What do we want this place to be like on our 11th Anniversary, or the 15th, or 20th?
Another peek behind the curtain...It takes a few hours of work every day to keep this place running at the level that has made it the best U.C.L.A. site on the Internet, and it's to the credit of JoeBruin15 who is doing all the real work managing this site, with huge assists from uclaluv and Bruinette and Fox and Orlando and DC and IE. Frankly, I don't have enough time for BN these days. I thought that as my kids got older, I'd have more time for my own passions, but it's the opposite right now. A big part of that is the kids have become my biggest passion of all, so their school and sports and hobbies and dreams and growth are my full time priority. When there is some time between, work occupies a bigger chunk than ever. My personal passions like biking, guitar, and even sleep are all losing ground. It's becoming clear I will not become Peter Sagan. Or Mark Tremonti. Or even well rested. There just aren't enough hours.
And I won't become Jim Murray either, but I am going to stay as close to BN as I can. I know life before BN and life since, and life since is fuller and richer and all sorts of better, and it's because of the added sense of family that Bruins Nation brings. Bikes and guitars are just for me. Bruins Nation is for all of us. After all, BB2K and I still keep in touch today, and that counts for something.
So this is my call to the community to help us create the future of this place. This site will be a reflection of the entire community, so please join us in building the next ten years at Bruins Nation. Read, comment, share, ask, debate, critique, cheer, post. Then repeat.
This community needs to thrive and grow, because somewhere out there is a person like me who has had life interrupt the connection with U.C.L.A. But maybe something happens tomorrow, or the day after, or a year from now that inspires that person to look for a familiar hand wearing blue and gold. Bruins Nation needs to be that welcoming and tolerant and relevant hand that person is looking for.
And what I want is for that person to be a loyal BN family member 10 years from now.