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Granite State of Mind

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park.

I'm sure you've heard the entire laundry list of complaints against New Hampshire:

- Nothing happens here.

- Nobody lives here.

- It's too cold.

- It's too snowy.

...That list goes on...

If you have children, they spend a lot of time telling you how they're going to go somewhere warmer or some place where more things happen and never look back.  I was one of those kids.

I grew up in Hanover, NH, and, after getting accepted at the University of Southern California (in Los Angeles), I couldn't have gone farther away for school, save San Diego or Hawaii.  After USC, I continued living out my West Cost dream this past fall with a season-long position as a Digital Media Producer with the San Francisco 49ers.

However, they always say you don't know what you had 'til it's gone, and as much as I enjoyed that far away, fantasy land, I just couldn't get over the fact that I was missing something.

So, at age 24, it was time to pack my life into my 1996 Honda Accord and head back to where I belong: the Granite State.

I'm Jonathan Stallsmith, I'm the new Web Services Specialist at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and I'm proud that my cell phone has a 603 area code!

As we get The Granite Stripe underway, it will be my job to help keep you entertained during the mid-week lull in the racing schedule.  Travis Barrett (from Green-White-Checker) will be providing most of the weekend coverage to keep you updated on the local circuits.  However, I'll be taking a broader approach to racing: Tuesdays I will try to provide a column; Wednesdays I'll give some insight on my Fantasy Auto Racing choices.

Next week, I'll explain my foray into NASCAR and the racing world, but, for right now, let's just leave it at that I'm a "common racing fan."  I know enough about racing to provide an educated opinion, but I wouldn't go as far as to qualify myself as an "expert."  Hopefully, that will come in time.

As I mentioned before, I was raised in Hanover and attended the local high school.  Growing up (and to this day), I'm an avid hockey player and helped Hanover hang two Division 1 State Championship banners on the ice in 2003 and 2005.  I also played soccer through high school, and dabbled around in baseball, tennis, and track.  I never played football but love watching it; I detest basketball (especially the Lakers!).

In August of 2005, I headed to USC.  The school attracted me for a number of reasons: its fantastic sports program, top of the line journalism school, club hockey team, and, of course, the sunshine.  While I take as much pride in being a Trojan as anyone could in their alma mater, I couldn't stand Los Angeles.  I'm a country boy at heart, and there were too many people, too many lights, too much crime, but not enough real sports fans.

After graduating in 2009, I briefly relocated back east, waiting tables on Martha's Vineyard that summer before heading home to job search and bartending to keep the bank account alive.  I was offered a season-long position with the San Francisco 49ers in June of 2010 and quickly darted back west to see if Northern California could hold my attention longer than Southern.

It didn't.

The Bay Area is certainly a "prettier" place to live than "So-Cal," but that's all relative when you consider I grew up in the beautiful state of New Hampshire.  Ultimately, the area was still over-populated to the point it lacked an identity, everything cost a little more than it should have, and the sports fans were still a lackluster and/or unappreciative bunch (although I will credit San Jose with having a much better hockey fan base for its Sharks than would be reasonable for a small city in California).

I've come to the realization that New England is my home and, as Lynyrd Skynyrd sings, "Well, there just ain't no place like home."

It's nice to be back, New England!

It's nice (well, not that nice, but sorta nice) to hear everyone else booing Daisuke Matsuzaka's third-inning exit as loudly as I was last night.

It's nice that I'll be able to hit the lakes for some hardcore battle tubing this summer and lace up the skates on that same surface next winter (although, goodness, let's not rush that!  We've got a great 2011 race season still to come here at "The Magic Mile").

It's just nice to be home.

I look forward to connecting with all of New England's race fans throughout the season and am excited to start sharing my personality and musings on "The Granite Stripe."  If, for some odd reason, you just can't get enough of my rambling, please feel free to check out my personal blog: The J.T. Stally Blog, where I talk most everything else sports (except for the Lakers, of course).

-JS