Blogger Keeps Fans in the Know About Texas Stars
The Texas Stars began play in October 2009, and Stephen Meserve’s comprehensive coverage of the team wasn’t far behind.
Meserve is the guy behind 100 Degree Hockey, the go-to site for Texas Stars and information. It’s a labor of love born out of a passion for hockey and the belief the team wasn’t getting enough news coverage when it first arrived on the scene in Central Texas.
“I grew up in Dallas and I was really passionate about the team,” Meserve said. “I saw that Defending Big D [blog covering the Dallas Stars] had started around that time and thought maybe I could give this a shot.”
Meserve, a season ticket holder, sent an email to then Texas Stars director of media relations Josh Fisher, who put him on the list for press releases and 100 Degree Hockey got going. It’s been rolling ever since. Meserve provides game previews, game recaps, analysis, news updates and feature articles. He has historical information on the site as well, including the whereabouts of every player who has suited up for the franchise. All this with a full-time job as a product marketing manager for an Austin company.
“I think the impressive part of it is not how comprehensive he is, but the fact that he does it all on his own,” said Owen Newkirk, Texas’ current director of media relations and broadcasting. “He’s not contracted out by a major media publication, he’s not getting paid to do this like a normal beat writer would be. He is literally showing his passion for the sport in general, for the sport in Texas and specifically for the Texas Stars. He gives us the blanket coverage we wouldn’t have if it weren’t for him. His dedication is admirable, and it is just fantastic what he does for us.”
Meserve’s coverage goes beyond sitting in front of a computer, regurgitating press releases or firing off opinions. He goes to where the news is, heading out to the rink to conduct interviews at a morning skate, practice or team media day. He has a season ticket and will watch games from either his seat or the press box, and will head to the locker room for postgame comments from players and coaches.
“It makes it feel like I am putting more into it and am connected to it,” Meserve said. “It would be easy to look at whatever is put up on YouTube and say I am covering the team when I am not actually there asking questions. I have the ability to ask questions fans are wanting to know about and drive the conversation. I am able to do feature articles as well, which is nice. I do take a lot of pride in being there and being present to have the conversations and be a consistent contributor.”
Newkirk joked that even when Meserve isn’t at a morning skate or practice, he still finds a way to be there in a way.
“He’s everywhere. If he’s not there by himself he’s got spies everywhere. And I say that in the most endearing way possible,” Newkirk said. “He’s made enough connections over the five years that if he can’t go to a practice or a morning skate, he knows people that will report for him. You’ll see an article on his blog and say, ‘I didn’t see him today. How did he know that?’ I think he has taken a dive headfirst into this and really embraced it.”
There also is an occasional trip to Dallas or Frisco to catch up with players who have made the jump from the Texas Stars to the Dallas Stars.
“It was a real rewarding experience to go into the locker room in Dallas and have guys like Brenden Dillon and Colton Sceviour recognize me, say hi and ask me how things are going in Austin,” Meserve said. “I think that minor league experience, where you get that more intimate exposure to a player – that’s true for the fans as well – it’s a very different experience, and it’s been rewarding to be able to go up there to cover a playoff game, the preseason and training camp, all sorts of things.”
Meserve has had feature articles published on the American Hockey League’s official site and the official site of the Dallas Stars. All of the work he puts into the blog takes a lot of time. Meserve couldn’t’ say exactly how many hours he puts in every week maintaining the blog, but it’s somewhere between 20 and 30 hours per week. That doesn’t include the time he puts in keeping up with stuff related to the team.
His employer is on board with Meserve’s efforts. As long as he is getting everything done at the day job, there’s no problem if he heads to the rink now and then.
All the time and effort has paid off, not so much financially. He has some Google ads on the site to help cover costs, but the payoff has come in the increased popularity of 100 Degree Hockey among both fans and the team as well.
“The traffic obviously really picked up with the Calder Cup run that first year (2009-10) and it has continued going up from there,” Meserve said. “[The Stars] have been really supportive. Josh Fisher didn’t have to give me the time of day. I am not a journalist by trade. I am a mechanical engineer, which is what I went to school for at [UT-Austin]. … I know a lot of people with the team read the blog. Michael Delay, the VP, really loves it and supports it. I know when coach [Glen] Gulutzan was here he read it. Lots of players, wives and girlfriends read it. Sometimes I get positive or negative feedback about that.”
But in the team’s eyes, the coverage Meserve provides is a big positive.
“In Central Texas football is huge, University of Texas football particularly takes the cake. Anything that happens there gets the mainstream attention,” Newkirk said. “So, to have somebody that is not only dedicated to coverage but specifically to us, gives us the kind of coverage that otherwise we probably wouldn’t see very much.”
The coverage of the team has grown over the past couple seasons. Sean Shapiro now provides stories for the Austin American-Statesman and has his own blog, Wrong Side of the Red Line. Between Meserve and Shapiro, the Stars are well covered.
But it was Meserve who set the standard with a lot of dedication and hard work. While the support of the team, fans and his employer has been key, there is another very important backer of his efforts.
“My wife really does support it,” said Meserve, whose wife attends games with him when he is not in the press box. “She sees that it makes me very happy to be able to cover the team on a daily basis and she loves seeing me happy, so she absolutely supports it.”
And the site’s growing popularity over the years is proof that a lot of people are happy with the Texas Stars coverage Meserve provides with 100 Degree Hockey.
Calder Cup Finals resume
After a four day break, the Calder Cup Finals resume Monday in St. John’s Newfoundland. Texas leads St. John’s 2-1 and the two teams will play back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday in St. John’s. Games 6 and 7, if necessary, will be played in Cedar Park.
Game 4 on Fox Sports Southwest Plus
Game 4 of the Calder Cup Finals between the Texas Stars and St. John’s IceCaps, which is Monday at 5 p.m. CDT, will be carried live on Fox Sports Southwest Plus. Here is the channel lineup for the various carriers in Dallas/Fort Worth.
Time Warner – 906
Charter – 300 (SD), 776 (HD) - Denton (314)
DirecTV – 676-1 (SD & HD)
Dish – 444 (SD), 9514 (HD)
U-verse – 754 (SD), 1754 (HD)
FiOS – 77 (SD), 577 (HD)