Welcome to Year 2 of The I-5 Corridor
As The I-5 Corridor celebrates its first birthday, Tyson Alger takes a look back on our first lap around the sun.
I still can’t believe Ohio State credentialed me.
I’m not a nobody in this profession, but when I sent in my credential request with “I-5 Corridor” behind my name a year ago, I figured it was a bit of a Hail Mary. One of my biggest regrets of leaving The Athletic after three years was leaving at a time when introducing yourself as “from The Athletic,” finally had some cache to it.
Now it was back to square one — just me with an empty email list and no subscribers. And they credentialed me anyway.
It might have been the luckiest thing to happen to me in this first year.
Because Ohio State let me in, I was in Columbus for Oregon’s upset win over the Buckeyes — its biggest nonconference win in nearly a decade. We sportswriters aren’t supposed to cheer for results, but anyone whose seen the numbers knows there’s a substantial difference in interest between a team contending for a College Football Playoff spot and a team that’s not.
In that moment, the Ducks were, and I was on the field when time ran out.
It was controlled bedlam, and once pictures were taken and palms were slapped and Sewell had said what he needed to say to family and friends, he turned around and saw his final target, locking Oregon coach Mario Cristobal in a hug and squeezing the air out of the former offensive lineman. He then put his finger in his coach’s chest.
“We did that!” Sewell yelled. “We did that.”
Oregon was off and running.
I’m usually pretty quick on deadline, especially when there’s good access and a clear storyline, but I struggled writing that night. Earlier in the day, I ran into one of my former bosses in the cafeteria who joked, “I wish we had an Oregon writer for this one.” And while here in August of 2022 I’ve come to peace with my departure from a dream job, the wound was still fresh in September. Thoughts of “you easily could have” and “I’ll show you” floated in my head, and the pressure I put on myself to write the best story meant I had to finish from the front porch of my friends’ place because I took so long.
Andrew Greif and Shane Hoffmann were gracious enough to remotely give the story a look over and, upon posting, I was rewarded with a fresh slice of greasy pizza and a Miller Lite cold enough to cut through the humid Ohio night. A few subscriptions came in before bed, the trip had paid for itself by the time I got back to Portland and, for the first time, I thought this thing might have legs.
It’s the favorite moment of my career — and one that carries a lot of the same threads that have helped pull The I-5 Corridor to today, its first birthday. I’ll give myself credit for having the courage to jump out of the plane, but I’m only still writing because of the litany of people who have swooped in to assemble a parachute. I’m indebted to every writer and radio host who has promoted The I-5 Corridor, to my parents who have supported every bone-headed decision I’ve made, to friends like Jeff Smith who send me ideas, to the dozens of athletes who have shared their stories — even when I struggle to convey exactly what The I-5 Corridor is — and to my wife, Ali, who definitely didn’t sign up for this ride from Oregonian intern to internet newsletter writer, but has never said no to an adventure.
I created the account on Substack in late July 2021 on airplane WiFi after visiting my friends Taylor, Brooks and Erik in Salt Lake City. I had quit The Athletic earlier in the month, and maybe it was the rabbit hole I went down after watching Bo Burnham’s “Inside” repeatedly throughout unemployment, but I was feeling creative again. On the way up a hike through the hills east of the University of Utah campus, I mentioned to them the idea of The I-5 Corridor. By the time we came down, they had convinced me it was my only option. When I had to write in a description of the site on the plane, I quickly jotted down, “A place for quality Oregon sports stories.”
With a year to reflect, I think that ended up being pretty accurate. Year 2 begins with Aidan Schneider on board for another season of podcasts, Shane Hoffmann in the fold for coverage throughout the football season and The I-5 Corridor represented on press row for Oregon’s Week 1 opener against Georgia in Atlanta.
Can you believe they credentialed two of us?
— Tyson Alger
The I-5 Corridor
Celebrate The I-5 Corridor’s 1st birthday with us on Thursday from 6 p.m. to close at Lombard House in North Portland. There will be no free drinks. There might be pizza. There will be stories.
If you can’t make it Thursday, join me Friday at 3:30 p.m. Pacific for a Zoom happy hour, co-hosted by Justin Myers of Rip City Radio. Bring your questions, stop by and chat or listen along if you’re still at work. I wouldn’t recommend starting a Substack if you want to solve that problem.
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