GreenNGoldGirl Rises (so much cooler than Batman)

In the days of dial-up internet, buffering and waiting ten minutes for a webpage to load, I was a teenager and had just started to understand the power of information. I had never known what life without internet was, so spending hours in front of a computer that loaded a new page every few minutes was a day in the life. Most kids my age were doing the same thing -- running home after school to their computers, loading up some page and wasting their afternoons away in front of a hunky Windows 2000, in awe of what they could do with the click of a button.

I was one of these children who aided the death of outdoor interaction, but I contributed in a different way. While my friends spent their time playing pointless flash video games, I could not wait to get home to refresh my AthleticsNation homepage.

I started writing on AthleticsNation in 2004, right before my freshman year of high school. I was by no means normal to my family -- when you're a teenage girl with an irrational obsession for a baseball team in a Mexican household, things get a little tense. My parents couldn't understand what had possessed me to spend hours upon hours talking to these strange online people about how this Barry Zito character had pitched the night before. Or why I laughed at the term Cupcakes. Or why my favorite phrases were "we're not selling jeans" and "SAMPLE SIZE!" Frankly, my parents didn't care -- they just wanted me to stop caring. As always, when parents tell a teenager to stop doing something, they keep pushing the envelope. In my case, they ordered me to stop liking baseball because it wasn't what a teenage girl should be obsessing about. I disagreed.

At school, things weren't much different. I had a lot of friends that were teenage girls, which meant conversation about clothes, boys and high school. I wasn't interested in any of those topics -- I wanted to talk about baseball. Life was rough at home and with my friends, so I threw myself into AthleticsNation. I learned everything I could about the scrappy players who wore white shoes from the perspectives of dozens of people. I was taught how to look at baseball in different ways -- there was the personal perspective, the quantitative perspective and the professional perspective. For a while, I did not leave a single unread thread and made sure that I read every single post that happened on AN. I became friends with people that I thought didn't exist -- die-hard fans with the same irrational obsession for green and gold.

As I got older, I got the reputation for being that chick who always wore green and gold. Lucky for me, my high school's colors were green and gold, so I could pull it off a hell of a lot more. I went through the ups and downs of adolescence, high school and life, just like everyone else, but I had a secret weapon -- I had the Oakland Athletics. My boys and my team became like a coping mechanism -- whenever things got hard, I would lock myself away in the world of statistics. I would spend my time blocking out the world with random baseball facts, meticulously gathered from baseball-almanac and stored away in specific compartments of my brain. I would watch every single game, from first to last pitch, blogging on the pre-and-postgame threads and during the game itself. The harder life got, the more I knew about baseball. It was just how things worked.

Eventually, my reputation as "that baseball obsessed girl" helped me find some of the most incredible friends in the world. I had people to talk to during lunch about the A's game or the Giants game, the WebGems or that heinous error in the Rangers game. I started volunteering my time to my school's baseball team. I got my license and started attending more live A's games. I met the people in the Right Field Bleachers. My A's fandom evolved, but lost in the wayside was the very thing that developed my love for the A's -- my beloved AthleticsNation.

After I decided to go to college and major in Sport Management, my once constant presence on AthleticsNation dwindled to mere spectatorship. My posts were few and far between and the people that I felt I knew on a personal level became lost amidst the spectacular growth that spiked AN and SportsNation to the premier league of blogging. I became a sort of lurker -- I still read, but rarely post. Instead, I took that passion that I cultivated on AN and focused it on my career. As much as I wanted to be that thirteen-year-old girl, reading and learning about my team and my sport all day, I needed to start working hard to make sure I made it in the sports industry and would never have to work a day in my life again.

To those of you who knew me back in the days when GreenNGoldGirl was synonymous with high socks and Barry Zito, I want to say thank you. You all helped create this indescribable fire within me that helped me pursue a career in sports. You gave me friendship, laughter and a safe place where I could be that insane, misunderstood, teenage A's fanatic. Collectively, you all steered me toward the path of no return -- I will never, ever bleed anything but green and gold.

To those ANers who don't know about GreenNGoldGirl: you are all so incredibly lucky to be a part of this community. Us A's fans need to stick together because no one else understands the power of this fanbase. I hope you've found what you need from AN, be it a friend, a debate or an inside joke.

Blez, the founder of AthleticsNation, inspired me to keep fighting on because, some day, your hard work will pay off. I was on AN a few months after its inception and have seen its exponential expansion. I have friends that I've made from this blog that I still talk to frequently and have become a constant part of my life. I like to look at AthleticsNation as the beginning of my life and career in sports -- thanks to the skills and network I developed on AN, I have been fortunate enough to work in nearly every major sports organization in the Bay Area. I did eight internships in college, which helped me land the position of a lifetime -- an internship in the Disney Created Sales department of the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. I went from being a teenage girl posting about the High Socks Crew and Barry Zito to a grown-up A's fan, working and learning for one of the most prestigious sports organizations in the world. And, honestly, I have all of you to thank for that.

Although I am extremely fortunate for this opportunity in Orlando, I have become someone I never thought I would be -- an out-of-state A's fan. It's pretty miserable that A's games usually come on at 10:00pm, end around 1:00am AND I have to pay for a package to watch my boys, but it's worth it. And, obviously, since the A's are in Tampa today, I will be trekking from Orlando to St. Pete's to sit in their subpar right field bleachers, wearing my Right Field Bleacher Crew shirt, cheering my heart out. Even though I'm working in my dream industry, it's always an amazing to remember that it's okay to be a fan -- and it feels damn good to be an A's fan.

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