I was a little bit late to the Michael Jenkins bandwagon. Maybe that’s because I usually head straight to bed after Caps games and don’t stay up to watch CSN’s Geico SportsNet Central that “Jenks” anchors.
However, this past post-season, it was all of you NoVa Caps followers who drew me to pay closer attention to Jenks. I saw all of your chatter about him, and all of the re-tweets and Facebook shares, and I began to watch him on CSN and follow him on social media (@JenksCSN). I was hooked.
One of the very first videos that I watched of Jenks was his commentary after the spectacle the Philadelphia fans put on during Game Three of Round One of the Stanley Cup playoffs against Washington. You can refresh your memory by watching the following video:
As you can probably imagine, Jenks was inundated with insults from Philly fans – watch the following video for a summary of some of the “best” mean tweets he received:
After watching that video, the words I hung onto were: “I wish your cancer would come back.” WHO SAYS THAT?! At the time, I didn’t realize that Jenks was a cancer survivor.
Right about this same time period, I was completely engrossed in the following video that Michael shared on his Facebook page. This time, it wasn’t Jenks who was being attacked by “mean tweets.” It was female sportswriters:
Jenks was outraged, and he said: “As much as I’ve experienced on Twitter and Facebook in the past week, I can’t even begin to understand what it is like to be a woman who deals with such vile behavior. Watching this is painful and difficult, as it should be.
However, it shines a worthy light on why women should be respected, regardless of how you feel about their opinions. What you say to others–especially when you make it personal–DOES have an effect, no matter the forum.”
When you follow Jenks on social media, you’ll soon realize how “available” he is. He shares stories, all kinds of stories – yes, his focus is on sports, but you’ll see quickly how he can captivate the digital and social inter-webs with his passionate thoughts and commentary on just about any topic. And when his followers engage with him on his posts, he will likely take the time to respond! He offers such a personal touch to all that he does. And what is so beautiful about it is that it comes completely natural to him. He doesn’t really realize just how personable he is. It’s just who he is.
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with Michael. And while I was excited to have the chance to get to know him better, I was also a little bit nervous; there were butterflies in my belly!
We met at a Starbucks close to the CSN offices in Bethesda shortly before he was to start his workday – which is not until 3pm weekdays, his show airs at 10pm. It was a nice day, and I sat outside waiting for him to arrive. I had the advantage of knowing who he was and what he looked like, and as he was approaching me, I walked over to greet him and he had the biggest grin on his face and opened his arms wide to give me a wonderful hug! He was excited to meet me – and he was just beaming with energy and happiness.
Jenks was born and raised in Texas – and attended college there, too. He received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Texas in Austin. He moved to DC in 2004, when he was 31 years old. It was an opportunity with CSN Mid-Atlantic that brought him to our neck of the woods – thank you, CSN! During his twelve years with CSN, Jenks has won eight Emmy Awards! Click here and watch him accepting two of his most recent Emmy Awards!
It takes no time at all to see that Jenks is really something special. We all feel connected to him. He’s one of “us”: he says what we want to say and how we’d like to say it. The Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg very appropriately called him: “the best fan reporter in the world”.
And when I was talking with Jenks about his very special talent and ability to connect with so many of us, he’s just appreciative for the opportunity to do what he loves to do. He thoroughly enjoys his job, he loves DC, and he is fully engaged in DC sport’s teams. Like so many of us, he’s waiting for our team’s moment in time.
That brings us to the elimination of the Capitals’ post-season and “that” video. If you didn’t know who Michael Jenkins was prior to “that” video, you do now. When most of us were numb on our couches, unable to even get up and make it into our beds because we were in a daze simply staring at the wall, Michael and his team, including his producer, Armon Lee – who he is extremely thankful for – needed to come up with commentary for their show. It was late and they were all tired and depressed and feeling just the same as we all were. On the fly, Jenks said I’m going to drink! One thing led to another and this video was put into production:
After taping, management was a bit irritated that Jenks drenched the lavalier microphone that was pinned to his lapel. And he thought he may have to replace it, a cost of approximately $800!
We all know what happened next, this video went viral – the estimated number of views is in excess of 1.5M! Shortly after taping the program, Michael headed home to go to bed – having absolutely no clue what was going on in the digital world. It was sometime the next morning, while walking his pup when he received a call from CSN alerting him that the video was a social media sensation! Take a listen as Michael talks about the making of the video on The Dan Patrick Show. Oh, and management seemed to quickly forget about the lavalier!
If you follow Jenks on social media, you’ll quickly realize that the light and love of his life is Nicole Darin of Big Ten Network (@NicoleDarin). When I asked Jenks about love, it was like a wave came over us. I could feel the change of tone and the expression of the love that he has for his fiancé, Nicole. I’m not exactly sure how to communicate it in words, but I could see love in his big brown eyes and I could hear it clearly is his words and I could sense it immensely in his expressions – he simply glows when he talks about Nicole. He told me that his previous long term relationship had ended un-expectantly and abruptly. And he was extremely numb about it. Shortly thereafter, there was Nicole – she worked at CSN, too. She was there for Jenks and while he didn’t really know it then, he needed her the most – he knows it now and for that, he will forever be thankful to her. When Jenks talks about Nicole, he simply illuminates. Jenks and Nicole will be getting married in April of next year! And he can’t wait – and she seems to be extremely excited too. The two of them recently attended a Toby Keith concert at Jiffy Lube Live and take a peek at the sign they were waving in the tweet, below! If any of you know Toby, maybe you could help them out?!
Our final topic of conversation was a difficult one: cancer. Jenks was eight years old when he was at school and complained of a stomach ache. In what seemed like a whirlwind, a trip to the hospital, an X-Ray of his abdomen, and then a diagnosis: Wilms’ tumor, a rare form of kidney cancer that primarily affects children. Immediately after diagnosis, one of Michael’s kidneys was removed. He then underwent chemotherapy treatments. Even though he was only eight years old, he remembers those treatments and he spoke vividly about a couple of things. He said that the chemo was injected through his foot. There was the side effects of the chemo – hair loss and baldness were significant to him – at eight years old. When Michael spoke of cancer and his treatments, it was like he went back in time. There was strong emotion in his voice. As a pediatric cancer survivor, Michael knows how precious life is. A gift, he told me, life is a gift. Jenks says that he’s been given a second chance at life, his cancer diagnosis has made him much more motivated in all that he does.
I know that I speak for all of NoVa Caps followers when I say “Thank You” Jenks for simply being you! We are all looking forward to your Capitals commentary this upcoming season. Let’s Go Caps!
By Beckie Reilly