by Mike McAlister
Reprinted with the author's permission
Having lost his customer service job in June, Alan Balthrop began suffering the usual negative vibes associated with sudden unemployment. He felt unproductive. Unwanted. Uninspired. It became a struggle just to climb out of bed each morning.
But those feelings didn't last long. The Plano resident found an outlet for his pent-up energy, throwing himself into KicksFan.com, a site he had launched the previous year as a cyber history of his favorite team, the Dallas Sidekicks.
What had been a 20-hour-a-week labor of love was suddenly an 80-hour-a-week source of therapy.
"This was my reason to get up and keep going," Balthrop said. "I enjoyed having the site as an anchor to my day."
His devotion to the site is evident in its exhaustive content.
A Sidekicks fan from Day 1 in 1984, Balthrop has produced, through extensive research in conjunction with current Sidekicks public relations director Herman Hudson, a compendium of information that blows away history areas on most official team sites – in any sport.
Detailed statistics are available, as is information on every league and every opponent the Sidekicks have known. And there are individual files for every Sidekicks player, from Jorge Acosta to Moses Zialu.
Balthrop's most impressive area – and his personal favorite – is This Date in Sidekicks History. He combed through every Sidekicks media guide (some of which he bought on eBay), as well as newspaper clippings and the team's archives to get any tidbit of information on a particular day. There are just three days on which he's found no news about the Sidekicks.
"This is not a rah-rah site," Balthrop said. "It's a site that says, 'Here's what happened.' "
The impetus for creating the site was Balthrop's frustration with the official Sidekicks site, DallasSidekicks.com. The team site has promised a history section since its launch three years ago but has never delivered.
After checking the site about 18 months ago, Balthrop still saw the "coming soon" message. That's when he took matters in his own hands.
Impressed with Balthrop's efforts, the Sidekicks – who open the season Saturday – now have a working history link on their site. It's a link to KicksFan.com.
"My media guide would not be as good without his efforts," Hudson said. "His site goes beyond anything I had envisioned as far as producing an extensive history section on the team."
Meanwhile, Balthrop has returned to the work force, having recently landed a full-time job. And he's even got a second job.
Fittingly, he's the
new statistician for the Sidekicks' radio broadcasts at all home games.