After spending 17 years as a sportswriter and columnist at The Seattle Times and helping three startups (Rivals.com, Scout.com and HoopGurlz.com) sell to large media organizations (Yahoo, FOXSports and ESPN), transforming myself into a photographer and multimedia journalist who (so far) has specialized in girl’s basketball, and becoming more and more serious about my craft and the arts, I want this to be a place where we contemplate where and how this all is going to converge. It may seem like kind of eclectic mix, but it’s me, for sure.
Me and My World -> Glenn Nelson
(Click on hyperlinks for more details)
I am of Japanese descent (along with mixed Caucasian), so I don't like to illuminate myself very much. However, I believe it is important that you know who I am, since you will be relying upon me for information and hopefully some insight.
My interest in women's and girl's athletics dates back to even before the birth of my two daughters, Sassia and Mika. My editor for a vast majority of my career at The Seattle Times was Cathy Henkel, whom I credit with helping me develop a "women's touch" to storytelling. Because there were no women on the writing staff, I took up the cause of covering women's sports – from basketball and volleyball at the Seoul Olympics to the first-ever Women's World Cup on U.S. soil (when Brandi Chastain ripped off her jersey) to the first and last days of the old ABL and, of course, the WNBA.
Basketball and writing have been in my blood for a long time. My high-school yearbook is full of "see you when you are covering the Sonics for The Seattle Times." And that's essentially what I did – cover the NBA for 17 years. But I also covered everything else – the Olympics, Goodwill Games, Final Four, Seahawks and NFL, Mariners and Major League Baseball, hydroplane racing, and lots more, literally taking me around the world. My first love always has been basketball and, when I became the first sportswriter ever to win a national writing award at the Times, it was for a profile of then-Sonic coach Bernie Bickerstaff. That story is so old, it's not even in the Times archives anymore. However, two others I won national awards for – about Gary Payton (The Son Also Rises) and Shawn Kemp (Man Child) – are still there. While we're on the subject, I've also had stories about Steve Largent (too old) and Soviet baseball (Comrades of Summer) published in books. I also was the main author of Rising Stars: The 10 Best Young Players in the NBA for SI for Kids Books. It should come as no surprise that my wife, Florangela Davila, also used to work The Seattle Times, and now teaches journalism at the University of Washington and does work for NPR affiliate, KPLU.
My longtime involvement in basketball led me to coaching. I first coached boys and adults, then turned to girls when my oldest daughter, Sassia, was old enough. Our first team was an all-Asian team called the Dragons. Our last team was the Northwest HoopGurlz. My mentors in coaching are two historical figures – Bob Kloppenburg, who developed the SOS pressure defensive system, and Ernie Woods, the winningest community-college coach in Washington history. I helped set them up with a website while I was at Rivals.com, which now is the most impressive coaching site on the Web, Hoop Tactics. My other main coaching influence is Chris Bown, my coaching partner with the HoopGurlz. I also coached briefly in the Triple Threat program, where I met Chris Hansen, who now of course works with me at HoopGurlz.com. We have players now playing in college but, as objectively as I can be, the player who had the most heart, I'm proud to say, was Sassia. She loved taking charges and was unselfish, sometimes to a fault. Her personality isn't such that she was a consistently big scorer, but she put up numbers when we needed them. My youngest daughter, Mika, went to a lot of our games and still goes to a lot of games with me and loves to cheer for just about anyone. She just started Special Olympics activities, I'm proud to say, so we shortly will be able to cheer for her!
I earned two degrees – in journalism and political science – while also working on the student newspaper and in student government (I was SB vice president my senior year) at Seattle University. I also worked almost the whole time with a community newspaper chain that owned the Beacon Hill News and South District Journal, among others. I earned my Masters in American Government/Minority Affairs at Columbia University, where I studied under Charles V. Hamilton, the co-author of the seminal Black Power. I also played a lot of basketball in New York City, including down at the famous Cage down at West 4th and 6th Avenue in Greenwich Village.
I thank those who have read this far. I want to wrap this up with a list of some of my Favorite Things, to help you know me better and turn you on to some cool things:
Best Seat in the House
National Press Photographers Association
National Association of Photoshop Professionals
Even users of this website know my latest, greatest passion is photography. Most of my mother's family back in Japan is involved in the camera business, so it's kind of in my blood. That and being Japanese makes me pretty gizmodo. But I really got past the point-and-shoot interest level because of HoopGurlz. I wanted a website about girl's sports to be very visual and, from all the feedback, it's hit home with many. I even have had a photo displayed in the Smithsonian The first link is to my buddy Rod Mar's hellacious blog on sports photography. I've been all over the place with Rod on stories and he's always been a shooter who could write while I now am a writer who can also shoot a little. He does a great job explaining how he made his awesome sports pictures – as an added bonus, he has a great sense of humor. The second link is from my friend Harley's personal site. I have to say that no one captures the moment better than he, and it was the result of a lot of planning. He and I also went on assignment together to the Soviet Union; it was supposed to last 10 days and we stayed nearly a month. The Strobist is the website I probably check more often than my own because it is a tremendous study in off-camera lighting. Joe McNally is another go-to for lighting, but also for his awesome National Geo-level photography and great sense of humor. I’d been a big fan of Paul Bannick’s nature photography, but after taking a class from him, I’m even more hooked. The others are organizations to which I belong, helping the non-stop process of self-education. The other links are to organizations to which I belong and which contribute to my never-ending education process. And oh yeah, in case it isn’t clear, I’m a Nikon guy.
Seattle Audubon Society
Union Bay Natural Area
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge
OK, believe it or not, I'm a birdwatcher – also a bird feeder. We have a family of Northern Flickers who are regulars (Flicky), a Downy woodpecker that we call "Bobby" (as in Robert Downey Jr.), a hummingbird we call "Buzzy," chickadees, junkos, sparrows, finches, Stellar jays, the occasional hawk, a couple of squirrels I like but have cut off their access to the bird seed. I started going to the Union Bay Natural Area, near Husky Stadium, because it was easily accessible with my daughter Mika. I bought a spotting scope so she could see the abundance of waterfowl and other birds. We always see a Great Blue Heron and occasionally a beaver. I discovered the Nisqually NWR after my latest visit to the Ridgefield NWR, which is near Vancouver, Wash., and Portland, Ore. Nisqually is my “home” National Wildlife Refuge and delighted this winter with Great Horned owlets. Ridgefield, with its vast diversity and the awesome Sandhill Cranes, is really what got me hooked on birding.
Pacific Northwest Ballet
Seattle International Film Festival
Jovino Santos Neto
The Royal Room
Seattle Art Museum
Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
Portland Museum of Art
Georgetown Art Attack
Game of Thrones
The Walking Dead
Think I have some time issues? In addition to the website, to my family, and all of the above, I also love the ballet, movies, love to read and love listening to music, especially jazz. And, of course, in a household that includes a TV writer, there are plenty of shows to watch. Ballet is a lot like basketball, if you think about it – athletic and theatrical. The "PNB" is the only thing to which I have season tickets. I have gotten to know Carla Körbes, the prima ballerina considered the best on this continent (at least) and she is inspiring. I’ve also been frequently to New York City Ballet and San Francisco Ballet, and been to every major ballet company in the country. Unforgiven is my all-time favorite movie, not because it's a Western, but because I love Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman and it's about friendship and a man seeking redemption. I've managed to shoehorn a constant presence at the Seattle International Film Festival into my busy schedules. I love to read. It is the way I've learned to do most things and the best way to get inspired when I'm on a major writing project. I’ve gotten to know trumpeter Thomas Marriott through a project I helped do for KPLU and, in addition to being a talented jazz musician, he’s a great guy. I met another great guy and artist, Jovino Santos Neto, by teaching his son Ariel in a high-school newspaper workshop. Earshot Jazz is my hometown jazz organization and presents a cutting edge festival every fall. I contributed to SF Jazz’s impressive center and have my name on the building. Pretty cool. My local, local spot is The Royal Room in Columbia City; it has one of the best listening setups of any club I’ve been — anywhere. My all-time favorite "album" is Unsung Hero by saxophonist Charlie Rouse. It's sometimes sad but always moving. Did I mention that I love museums? I’ve been taking my girls to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) almost since they could walk and they still love it. The Burke, Wing Luke and the fabulously re-done Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) also feel like home and are other places we have memberships. I try to get to the Met and MoMa in New York City and the SF MOMA and DeYoung in San Francisco at least once a year. I discovered the Portland Museum of Art when helping my daughter Sassia settle into grad school in Maine. I really love American art and this is a very, very underrated and overlooked home for it. When I was growing up, my brother and I would ride our bikes down to Georgetown, which, except for a place we liked called Valu-Mart, was a depressed warehouse district. Today? It’s an artsy, hipster neighborhood where, on the second Saturday night of every month, they conduct the Art Attack, an event I try not to miss. I don’t watch a lot of TV, so I make it count. I’m totally geeked out over Game of Thrones. I listen to podcasts and now am reading George RR Martin’s massive books. Though Thrones is gaining, I think the all-time best show is The Wire and the all-time best character is Omar (Comin!) Little. I also love The Walking Dead, though I’m not a zombie lover. I love the characters on Dead and how they deal with the massive stress of a quickly changing world. I know I said I didn’t watch a lot of TV, but I also adore another David Simon/HBO partnership (The Wire being the first) called Treme. It combines two of my other big loves — jazz and food. How can it miss?
Fleet Feet Seattle
Elliott Bay Books
Columbia City Farmer’s Market
Portland Farmer’s Market
Bayview Farmer’s Market
I used to be more of a shopper than I am now. These days, I just like my favorite places to stay in business, so I can return. If you visit Seattle, you need to stop by one of Kobo's two locations. The one down in the International District (Jackson Street) is bigger and has a historical section. This place is run by my friend, Binko, and her husband John. I've known Binko since high school and we were roomies in New York City while we both were in grad school (and she had the rent-controlled apartment). I don't think I've ever left that store without buying something. Check out the website because it's equally beautiful. I’m a runner and, if I ever need anything to accommodate (from shoes to recovery tools), I sprint over to Fleet Feet, whose owners, Brian and Andrea Morrison, have made their spot the most helpful, welcoming place around. Not much more needs to be said about REI, except if you didn’t know, its flagship store in Seattle is so beautiful and serene. And I don’t really know if I could go on without Elliott Bay Books. Even when I go in “just to browse,” I walk out with at least one book to add to my growing pile of need-to-reads. I may actually head to the Ballard or University District markets more, but only because they are year-round. But the Columbia City Farmer’s Market isn’t just my ‘hood market, it is the most vibrant and diverse of all of them. I get kind of choked up every fall when it closes down for the year. The farmer’s market in Portland, Ore., is oh-my-god cool. For starters, it’s huge. The vendors there also really know how to display. It’s just a colorful, very organized and enticing place. The Bayview market, on Whidbey Island, has become one of my all-time favorites — certainly worth a ferry ride — because it offers some unique crafts and great prepared food, in addition to top-notch organic goods.