EDITOR’S NOTE: BoltBlitz.com launched on February 26th of 2013. The two weeks prior to the launch were spent building the site and getting things in order to begin what I had hoped would be a successful blog. The website had a ton of success in its first year. I brought over Greg Williams with me from a site that we used to write for in the past. Jarvis Royall has been a part of my team for the majority of its existence. Williams and Royall are ranked number two and three, respectively, in number of articles written on BoltBlitz.com.
Little did I know, it would be working together with Thomas Powell to take this thing to a high level at a very rapid pace. Take a look at all we were a part of in 2014. It is quite humbling when you see it all written down. We were clearly blessed last year.
The 2014 Charger season began with Booga in North Carolina while I was here in San Diego. We had just started to team together to make BoltBlitz.com the biggest fan site for Charger news and information. We also wanted to unite Charger fans from Facebook and Twitter. Then Booga landed a radio show on 107.9 fm Mountain Country here in San Diego, BoltBlitzLIVE. So he, at a great sacrifice to himself, left North Carolina and moved in and the framework for our plans began to unfold. He had been covering the team from across the country and we could communicate better in achieving our goals with him here in San Diego.
So with BoltBlitzLive set to air in June of 2014, Booga arrived in April. We planned our goals and what we both wanted to achieve. Then he left for New York and attended the NFL Draft a few weeks later. But before he left, the plan was set in motion to unite Charger fans: A BoltBlitz Meetup. The date was set for May 31st at the Tilted Kilt in Mission Valley. While he was gone I promoted the meetup and when he returned we went like a steam train putting the news out there.
While pushing and promoting the meetup, we had many questions about its success. One of the main concerns was whether or not fans would show up in the middle of May to talk Charger football. I mean, it was the offseason. Booga and I worked on the players and the media to get them to attend. Nothing this big had ever been done before, but we were determined to make this a very special event for the fans. Booga was set to raffle off over $4,000 dollars in Charger gear he had obtained over the years. The many hours of planning for this were, at times, overwhelming. But we knew it was worth it. Even the Chargers front office got wind of the event as people were getting excited and sharing the news all over Facebook and Twitter. Booga and I were hoping for between 50 or 70 people for this event.
As May 31st came, we learned for the first time to not ever underestimate Charger fans and their devotion to the team. People were arriving 2 hours before the event took place. By the time it started an astounding 225 people packed the Kilt from the front to the back. Charger offensive linemen Craig Watts and Jeremiah Sirles showed up for autographs and pictures with the fans. Our good friend Jesse Arroyo of www.arroyophotos.com took pictures of the fans smiling and laughing together and the group picture. Derek Togerson of NBCSanDiego came with his video camera to broadcast it on the 6:30 pm newscast that night. Fans were making friends and exchanging numbers. Laughter and smiles filled the room. Everyone had one thing in common that night, a deep devotion to the Chargers. A team that loves a team! The next morning Facebook was flooded for hours with fans sharing their pictures of the event on social media. The meetup was a smashing success. That morning we started planning the next meetup.
But first was the debut of BoltBlitzLive. Booga did the very first show live by himself. Then he was joined by Jamie Hoyle our staff writer at the time. I joined them a couple of weeks later to create a 3-man booth. We interviewed Craig Watts, Marion Grice, Alden Darby, Thomas Keiser, Adam Rank of NFL Network, Steve Adler and Eddie Brown UT Staff draft writer. We had Antonio Garay, Derek Togerson, and Fernando Ramirez of SportsSpeak (who covers the Chargers) live in studio. We took calls from fans from all across the country including Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Delaware, New York, Nevada, Washington, Texas, Michigan and, of course, San Diego among other places in California. It was a great time but now the 2nd meetup was ready to go!
The 2nd BoltBlitz meetup was at the Tilted Kilt on July 12th. The excitement was building through social media for another event. Most of our staff writers were there. So were CS Keys, Dan McLellan formerly of CBSSports, Eddie Brown of the UT and Tricia Mathews (Ryan Mathews’ mother). She was there to support their charity the Door of Hope Chest to help single mothers gets the necessities of life. She came all the way from Bakersfield. She took pictures with the fans and donated a pair Ryan Mathews autographed cleats. One fan came all the way from Seattle just to attend the meetup. It was such an honor for us to have him there and introduce him. The turnout was an astounding 250 people. The night ended with Booga and I in dresses posing for pictures. Fans exploded with laughter. It was another huge success that night.
As the season approached we attended the Chargers MCAS Miramar practice with press passes. It was a practice with the Military, their family members and the Charger players. We were able to take pictures and talk to several players and members of the organization afterwards including Philip Rivers, Tom Telesco and Mike McCoy. The preseason kicked off with Booga in the press box for the Dallas game and quite a few regular season games. I was able to attend practice on Wednesday covering the team as they prepared for Oakland. We were both very appreciative of the access the Chargers allowed us. We owe a big thank you to Bill Johnston for those opportunities.
As our 3rd meetup approached at the Fox Sports Grill in Downtown. LaDarius Green showed up for a meet and greet. Many of the fans were now not only friends but family. The view over the bay was gorgeous and Jesse Arroyo handled the group photo again. The management there was kind enough to donate five $50.00 gift cards for our raffle. We realized at this one to put an emphasis on incorporating the kids in our events. We had a few of the youngsters hop on the microphone and announce some of the raffle winners. Lesson learned.
The Bolts started the season off strong and all was good in Charger land. So a celebration was in store during the bye week. An intimate evening for the fans: A bonfire at Fiesta Island under the stars. I have to admit this was one of my favorite events. Everyone – about 80 fans – standing near the fire under the night sky smiling and laughing again. But this one was special because we met so many of you for the first time. There were so many new faces at this event. Everyone who attended has become very close friends with Booga and I. They have joined the family and have done so much for us. Future bonfires will happen. The amount of people were smaller than the meetups, but the interaction was so much more personal. It was a great night for all of us.
Through the exposures of these events we were contacted by Paddy Pickford of Evolution Lighthouse to help hold an event downtown where Eric Weddle would sell his jewelry to help stop domestic violence against women. It was held at Taste and Thirst in downtown. It was quite personal as a lot of our guests shared their experiences of what they have gone through. The event raised more money than any other charity in their history. Again, don’t ever underestimate Charger fans, folks.
Our focus of uniting Charger fans and supporting the Bolts continued as we planned 4 viewing parties for the away games. We gathered at La Bella’s in Chula Vista. Fans gathered to be with their fellow family members to watch the games together. It was a good time and San Diego went 3-1 at La Bella’s when the BoltBlitz family got together there.
This brings me to the most fun I’ve had in a long time. We were welcomed to the Bolt Pride tailgate in P4 at the Qualcomm stadium parking lot. We are simply boys among men with these guys. When you are passionate about something in your life, you want to share it with people who share that passion among others; the ones who feel the same way you do. The atmosphere there is amazing. It is a close-knit family sharing the same experience. It is what Booga and I envisioned yet they had already achieved. The music and the dancing was legendary. Bolt Pride, we thank you all so much for the experience. Truly a heartfelt thank you goes out to Rafael Alvarez, Josh Casillas and Johnny BoltPride. You are Charger fan legends and we thank you all. Much respect to all of the BoltPride members and we love your group and all that you do.
Thanks to Joe Allen again, we were asked to cover the 2nd Annual Ryan Mathews Golf Tournament. It was a great day as we hung out with Mathews, Seyi Ajirotutu, Ronnie Brown and their friends at the Rancho Bernardo Inn and golf course. All three Chargers were really cool and each had a great sense of humor. I won’t get into their golfing abilities.
I am an administrator on several Charger pages on Facebook. While cleaning up one of these pages I came across a 3-year-old with terminal brain cancer. I stared at his picture for 10 seconds and he had me. Something about his mother’s post just got to me. It’s not like we don’t see these posts all the time, but this was like love at first sight. Killy’s mother, Amanda Sardelis, stated he was a Ryan Mathews fan. They were contacted by Joe Allen from Strikes for Kids and got Killy a signed football and autograph. But the boy stayed on my mind. At work, at home, and while sleeping he was on my mind. Maybe because my kids just moved away. I don’t know, but he was my obsession. He wasn’t looked upon as a son, exactly. Nephew? Nah. Brother? Nah? But he was mine. I fell in love with him immediately.
My father died of cancer, as did my grandfather. You took them but you’re NOT taking him, PERIOD! This was so personal to me. ALL I cared about was a boy named Killy. Cancer talks to so many today. We all know someone. But a 3-year-old? Seriously? Come on? NO! You won’t take him, not him, NO! Love overcomes all and people will love him.
I had no idea the impact that Killy would have on others as he did on me. I went to Booga and shared his story. We decided we’re going to do something for him. We talked and due to having many media contacts and influence among the fans, we wanted to reach out to as many people as possible. The fans have taught us many things. Most importantly, we’re family!
When a family member gets sick, what does family do? They come running in like the cavalry. And you certainly did come blazing in. We shared his story on Facebook and Twitter and you fell in love with him too. We all were going to make this boy’s Christmas the best of any child on earth. The family was assembled and the family responded in such a way that brings me to tears. We can get 40-50 fans together to bring him Christmas presents. YES, that is it. We’ll meet him and bring him presents.
We then asked our Facebook friends to change their profile picture to him 2 weeks before the event on Dec 13th. HA! The next morning everyone changed their picture to the little boy in a Charger Santa hat. I thought maybe 30-40 people would change their profile picture. Over 400 people (could be more we don’t know the exact numbers) changed their pics. Killy was EVERYWHERE! Mess with family but don’t mess with Charger Family!
When people call San Diego a bandwagon city, tell them to go Google Killy. Even Matthew T. Hall of the UT ran a story about the movement. Killy actually proved if we unite in a cause it can be overwhelming. Nancy Castro of Telemundo, Derek Togerson, Dan McLellan and Annie Heilbrunn all changed their profile pictures to Killy. Presents were sent in from Twitter and Facebook from all across the country. Even Thomas Keiser sent Killy a gift. #KillyStrong and #KillysArmy were hashtagged everywhere on Facebook and Twitter. But would the fans respond? Would they show up to an event to meet our little celebrity on December 13th twelve days before Christmas? YES, YOU DID! Around 80 people showed with presents at Chargers Complex on December 13th to meet Killy. Then we all hopped in our vehicles and headed out to the Q, cars honking to party with Killy and show him what a tailgate is like.
Dan McLellan dressed up as Santa Clause and Elmo, per a referral from the Make A Wish Foundation, came. Animals for Children came as well. Every fan lined up to meet Killy personally and hand him a present. To everyone who attended, you’re forever in my heart. I love you so much. To Amanda,Valerie and Jimmy we support you and love you. To Killy, you know how we feel about you. You are incredibly special!
Our last event of 2014 was our final viewing party at La Bella’s. We were all shocked and heartbroken by the week 17 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs. We accepted that the loss, as heartbreaking as it seemed, was just a loss. Now back to family. Amanda brought Killy down to spend time with the BoltBlitz family. We laughed and shared memories with him after the game. Why? Because that is what family does! So many of you are our family. I can’t tell you enough how much we love you all. For those who have welcomed us into your homes, we thank you. For those of you who have been in our home, we thank you and you appreciate you being in our lives. To Bolt Pride, the media, and the fans, we LOVE you!
By uniting we all showed what can happen when we come together. Now, let’s go fight for our stadium and Keep Our Bolts in San Diego! You’ve proven that anything can happen. We have two exciting events coming up in the last week of February that we’ll be making announcements about in the coming days. Let’s make 2015 smash 2014.
Leave a comment on the website in the section below. Not on FB or Twitter, but below. Let us know we met you and at what event. That would be great information to help us all share in the amazing memories. And, of course, always stay #KILLYSTRONG!
Thank you all for your support.
As soon as all of the dust settled from our last meetup, Thomas Powell and I were already working on setting up the next one. I’m excited to announce that our next meetup is scheduled for Saturday, August 30th at 4:00 pm at Fox Sports Grill in downtown San Diego. The event will run from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm.
The parking structure will allow us to have 3 free hours of parking. Simply take your parking slip and have it validated at the front desk of the restaurant. They will stamp it and then you show it to the people working at the parking structure.
If you haven’t been to Fox Sports Grill, Thomas and I went and scouted it out a few weeks ago. The venue is perfect. It’s right on the water and we’ll have both the inside and the patio area for the meetup.
We’ll have raffle items as usual and even more San Diego media members than we’ve had at either of our previous meetups. We are working on getting players to attend and I feel confident that we will achieve that.
What is really cool is that DSC – Deluxe Signature Collection – is donating some items to the raffle. They have the best autographed merchandise in the business and they are partnering up with us to make our event even better.
Between the first two meetups we have united over 400 Charger fans. I am so proud of all of the fans that have attended and had the opportunity to meet so many other members of the Bolt family.
If you would like to attend but are unable to do so due to not having a vehicle or a ride, go to the BoltBlitzLIVE Facebook page and we’ll try to arrange for someone to pick you up for the meetup.
One of the coolest parts of or meetups is the group photo. We are so lucky to have professional photographer Jesse Arroyo take the photo. It is top-notch quality and we can’t thank him enough for taking the time out of his extremely busy schedule to come down and
I hope to see all of our past attendees and even more new faces. These meetups are a great opportunity to network, increase your Twitter followers and Facebook friends, win some cool Charger stuff, meet a ton of Charger fans and San Diego media members while enjoying great food and having a great time.
Thanks a lot for reading and mark your calendar for Saturday, August 30th.
So far we have introduced you to several of the people who cover the Chargers for the media. Let’s take a look inside at some of the people you don’t hear about in reports on the team. Jesse Arroyo was the photographer for the Chargers for 10 years. Many of the photos you have seen in the LT and Merriman era were done by Jesse. So, let’s get to know Jesse Arroyo.
Tpowell: How did your love of photography and football come about? How and when did you become a fan of the Chargers?
Jesse: Love for football definitely came first. I remember at 4 years old in Minnesota watching Vikings football at home with the family. I was an inquisitive kid and wanted to know all about the rules and structure of the game. I loved the way football incorporated all kinds of athletes from the strength of the O and D linemen to the speed of the receivers and defensive backs.
The move to photography came about by accident. I sold Apple computers, film scanners, and Photoshop software to photographers. When photography went digital it fell right into my lap because I knew all of the back-end digital processing. I bought a digital camera to enhance the web pages I was designing and at the time more people were interested in digital photos than web pages, including my boss at the Chargers where I was interning at the time. Soon after I was doing both photography and intern assignments and then eventually moved over exclusively to photography. Photography is my art and my expression. In many respects it’s a dream job.
I became a Charger fan when my family moved to San Diego during the Air Coryell years. Dan Fouts, Charlie Joiner, Wes Chandler, John Jefferson, and Chuck Muncie were among my favorite players.
Tpowell: What were you responsibilities when you were the photographer with the Chargers?
Jesse: I was listed as an associate photographer and handled miscellaneous assignments from several departments. I helped start the fan photo sections in the Tailgate Times and the Chargers.com website. I shot community relations and PR photos of Charger special events such as the Gatorade kids camps and Charger training day at MCAS Miramar. During training camp and game days I shot football action, cheerleader performances, VIP field visits, sponsor signage, a little bit of everything.
Tpowell: What kind of access were you given?
Jesse: Technically I had access to all areas except locker rooms, but every once in a while I’d receive an assignment that would take me into locker rooms as well. The only place I’ve never been into is the visiting team’s locker room.
Tpowell: You were working during the Marty -AJ era. What was that time like? The overall majority of the fans believe it was all AJ fault. I don’t believe this to be true. Seemed both men had their flaws in the relationship. How was it for you to be around and observe that dysfunction?
Jesse: The Marty – AJ era was one of the most exciting times in Charger football. The famous 14-2 season in 2006 was the peak of my time with the team. AJ and Marty both deserve a lot of credit for helping turn around a team that at one point was 1-15 under coach Mike Riley. Of course not everything was perfect. I saw and heard enough to know that even before the media blitz came, that Marty and AJ were reaching a boiling point. One thing is to read about it in the paper, another is to observe it in front of you and even be an unlikely participant of a spirited discussion with one of them. Both men are very intelligent, had strong characters and had masterful knowledge of football, yet both had similar flaws. They both could have benefited from being more flexible on their stances. I highly respect both men and believe that they both shared equal part of the blame. Ultimately it was not that either was not a good football person but rather they were just not compatible professionals. I supported Dean’s decision in releasing Marty in spite of the 14-2 season. Heated debates at the top have a resonating effect throughout the organization and has an effect on morale and production. The following season under more easy-going conditions the team was able to pull off their first playoff wins of the era and nearly captured their first trip to the Super Bowl.
Tpowell: Being up close with the players as you were, What do you feel some of the misconceptions are about some of the players in the NFL?
Jesse: Probably the biggest misconception is that many overly critical people think that many pro football players are just thugs who hang out at late night spots and do bad things. Many people who make this claim do not interact with the players and have never been to the late night spots they mention. My work takes me frequently to late night spots and well as community and charity events. I see who is there and what people do. The vast majority of players are not troublemakers. They are family men and all around great guys. Many are strong in moral character and spirituality. Many fund and participate in charitable causes that improve the neediest areas of the community. We need to give more media attention to the good guys rather than just tear apart the very few bad guys who are by far a small percentage in the NFL.
Tpowell: You were on the field when LT broke the single season TD record. What was that moment like and what did it feel like to be so close while watching history take place?
Jesse: The advantage of studying hard and becoming familiar with the team, the players’ tendencies, and the game of football in general is that I can, in certain situations, anticipate a play. When I received my assignment to take up a position on the field’s edge and be ready to shoot the record-breaking TD I chose the back of the end zone by the goal post. I anticipated that LT was going to jump over the Bronco D line and into the end zone. My vision was to capture LT flying through the air towards me. Sure enough Lorenzo Neal and LT both lined up in the “I” formation and at the snap they began to run straight ahead. As LT took the hand off from Rivers the play hit a snag. Neal stumbled and fell to the ground early. The play was technically broken but LT, being the gifted athlete he was, cut to his left and raced towards the left pylon and in for the TD. I didn’t get my dream shot but was super happy that LT got his record-breaking TD.
Tpowell: You were up close and personal with the players. You saw the injuries that they deal with that teams either hide or the players hide. Given that, what do you think of the new rules to make the players safer? Do you think it’s gone to far, not far enough or right amount of rules for today’s game?
Jesse: The players, especially the stars, are what drives the NFL. Making sure they are upright is in the best interest of everyone. although I like to watch bone crushing hits just like anyone else I do see and support the need for player protection. Some of th e head hunting and bounties being paid to severely injure an opposing player is deplorable. Hopefully technology will enable sports companies to design better protective gear to properly protect players from injury but until then the longevity and integrity of the came must be protected so that we can see as many of our stars on the field as possible.
Tpowell: You wanted Mike McCoy all along. I’ve learned the Chargers thought they had no shot at McCoy because Denver was probably going to beat Baltimore in that Playoff game. When he became available they pounced. What do you think of the job he’s doing along with Telesco? What attracted you to him? Sure seems night and day from AJ Smith would you agree?
Jesse: McCoy was on my short list of coaches to replace Norv and after I heard some of the results of the interviews McCoy was moved to #1 on my wish list. There’s a saying in Rome where popes are elected, that a fat pope usually follows a skinny pope. The saying highlights leaders of two extremes where one is brought in to remedy the shortcomings of the other. Chargers head coaching hires have followed a similar pattern. Hard core Kevin Gilbride was replaced by easy-going Mike Riley, who was replaced by hard-core Marty Schottenheimer, who was replaced by easy-going Norv Turner. What the team needed is a balanced leader. McCoy is a strong leader who is also flexible. He understands that along with a solid playbook there needs to be a positive working environment. He saw the benefit of incorporating the strengths of various coaches and players around him and worked to orchestrate a winning team based on what everyone does best while moving at the tempo of the QB. This was a stark difference from AJ and Marty who seemed to just push their own agendas, which at times conflicted with each other. Many people didn’t buy into McCoy and Telesco at first but I believed in McCoy and gave Telesco the benefit of the doubt based on the success of the Colts the year before and his long history working with Bill Polian. I predicted a 9-7 season with a 6th seed playoff appearance. My prediction was right on, for once. LOL
Tpowell: You don’t seem to be a big fan of the Media in sports. Are your disagreements with more national reporters or local alike?
Jesse: I wouldn’t say that’s entirely true. I am a big fan of sports media. I grew up reading news articles and listening to sports talk on the radio. Much of what I learned about football I attribute to sports media. I still enjoy sports media to this day. My beef is that it seems in recent years some reporters have a hidden agenda to look for dirt on a player or a team and exploit it. This practice compromises the integrity of the game and the league, and cheapens the fan experience. The other issue I have is when journalists are overly critical of a team without doing the correct research on the topic they are criticizing the team on. It leads to disseminating improper facts and misguided opinions. This misleads the fans and creates unnecessary anger towards the team. During the Charger games I spent a lot of time working directly with the fans and spent a great deal of time clearing up misconceptions they had of the team. Local writers and national writers both have their strengths and weaknesses. I don’t think either is to blame more than the other. I do give props to those who are straight shooters, take the time to do the proper research, and tell it like it is. Good or bad.
Tpowell: Your profession has now taken you on your own as a photographer. You’re also mentoring my daughter in her modeling career. I thank you. You’ve established yourself as one of the most popular photographers in San Diego. I’ve seen your posts at weddings, concerts, and many events. Take some time to promote yourself. What are you doing mostly now? If a Charger fan is in need of your services, how can they find you?
Jesse: My web address is www.ArroyoPhotos.com. People can contact me there regarding photo and video services and to check out samples of my work distributed via social media. After my time with the Chargers I signed on with UT San Diego. Now I shoot all around the county during all times of the year. I also have my own freelance practice and team of assistants. We do mostly company events, weddings, and other special events. It was great working with you and your daughter for her prom photo shoot and I look forward enjoying the upcoming football season with you and your family.
Editor’s note: On behalf of BoltBlitz.com, I’d like to thank Jesse for taking the time to do this interview. In the past, his unique perspective is certainly something that we can all take and learn something from. We wish him nothing but the best in all of his future endeavors while no longer covering the Chargers.