Goodbye Jessica, My Friend
NOTE: This was written in February of 2013 and published today. Yeah, it’s taken me that long to post this as her death really shook me up.
The night of the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado I was on the phone with my then girlfriend talking about the theater shooting as it happened and she asked me if I had any friends in the area that might be there. Instantly, I thought of Jessica and said brazenly that I didn’t think she was there.
I woke up the next morning and my worst fears had been realized. Jessica was gone. A shooting star was snuffed out before her full potential was realized.
I met Jessica online via Twitter while she was covering the San Antonio Rampage (a farm club for the Phoenix Coyotes). Like everyone else, I saw her now famous YouTube video. In that video along, I saw a raw talent that had the potential to be one of the greats.
One of the things I’ve learned about PR and the media in the years I’ve run this rag is that when it comes to finding writers and judging their talent they are either 1) talented but not dedicated or 2) dedicated but not talented. Even in Phoenix where we have one of the top Journalism schools in the nation (ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism), I have been unable to find someone who has the characteristics of #’s 1 and 2.
Jessica had both. Sure, she was rough around the edges with experience but she had the dedication to learn and be the best. She had the talent but at this moment in time she did not have the ‘street smarts’ in this biz. Jessica had moved from the comfy confines of San Antonio to Denver to follow that dream.
After I got to know her I was too busy covering the Phoenix Coyotes full time to read anyone other articles (locally or nationally) but whenever she posted something I stopped and took the time to read it. To me, she was a developing talent that needed to be helped along her path with advice and whatnot.
Once I became friends with her on Facebook I saw the extent to not only which she loved hockey and the NHL but her desire to become the best in the media. She lived, breathed, slept, and ate hockey.
In this day and age with the decline of the print media and the rise of online publishing, people can’t always recognize when there is a talent that should be paid attention to and nurtured. In the NHL biz, if you aren’t mainstream print, online, or TV media more often than not you’re considered to be shit.
One of the ways that you can tell a good PR person from the rest of the wannabes is the following:
- The good PR people will be able to recognize the ability for a media type to promote their client
- The rest just earn paycheck.
Jessica kept running into the ‘paycheck earners’ at just about every corner she turned. Even when she was discouraged, she kept talking with people for advice or just to vent when things didn’t go right. She never gave up her dream. She knew what she wanted and she went after it.
We had long talks about the business and the things she had to deal with in Denver with different aspects of her job. She went though some very tough times with some of the teams in Denver (including a sexual harassment incident with one of the Denver Area pro teams) but she kept with it because she believed.
At this point in time the 2012 NHL Awards were rolling around. Jessica and I had chatted about the awards and we kept trying to find a time during the craziness in Vegas to meet. I wanted to offer her a job to write because she needed an environment where she could be free to try new things, find her voice, and occasionally stumble without worrying about getting fired.
We had talked about getting her credentials for the NHL Awards but I never followed through with it. Because of my absence from reporting for the season and remaining emotions of the KHL disaster, I hesitated to ask for credentials for her.
This will be a regret that I will carry to my grave.
Goodbye Jessica, my friend. I’ll miss our long talks. You were a shooting star destined to become one of the all time greats. I’m going to miss you dearly.