Greska: When gratitude doesn’t suffice

(Photo by Ryan Messier/Paint Touches)

When Paint Touches started in 2011, it was the brainchild of Mark Strotman under the leadership of Michael Nelson, two seniors at Marquette who wanted an outlet at the Marquette Tribune for more regular Marquette basketball postings (and more options for formatting). I was lucky to call both friends so was able to tag along for a cool senior capstone.

But a funny thing happened that year. Our little pet project struck a chord with the Marquette community. From #BringWadeToMadness to beating Wisconsin in Madison all the way through the Sweet 16 run, there was a non-student community that not only accepted the thoughts and posts of rando college kids, but embraced us and supported the endeavor with a tremendous amount of attention and engagement.

It’s been over 11 years now and the bylines have changed, the articles have become way more infrequent and the grand plans of creating an outlet that could overtake the JS as the premier outlet for anything Marquette basketball long since abandoned. These days getting 2 or 3 posts up a month is a win, an amount that used to be a daily feat.

I bring all this up because Mark, it’s always Mark, was a bit horrified to hear PT doesn’t quite bring in enough revenue to self-fund the WordPress fees anymore. So he took it upon himself to do something about it.

The response is like something out of a movie Seth Davis would Tweet through on Christmas Day. I stared at my phone when Mark sent over the funds and didn’t know how to even respond. I’m never at a loss for words, and this was like taking a prime Tyson punch to the side of the head. Out cold.

I am writing all this because I want everyone to know, those that donated, those who have read, and those who have engaged on Twitter that this is truly not something I do for money. I have never minded paying the $40 or so bucks the ad revenue doesn’t cover each year because PT has not only been my personal outlet for sanity through having 4 kids in 8 years, it’s been the single biggest driver of my professional growth.

Sifting through Synergy, parsing KenPom and trawling Torvik has taken this journalism major’s worldview and married skills that have served me tremendously in real life. I 100% credit the outlet PT has provided for giving me the runway to be able to translate statistics into outcomes on and off the court. So I still feel a debt to every single reader, because if you hadn’t shown interest back in the day, my life and my family’s outlook would be so much worse.

One day I may put up a (minimal) paywall so it doesn’t feel like I’m taking unearned charity, but the kindness shown by people I’ve never met and probably won’t ever meet is the most emotional this coldhearted nerd has been since listening to Dos Oruguitas from Encanto.

And of course, let Mark’s incredible actions be a guidepost going forward in 2023. He continues to show that being the difference isn’t a meaningless phrase Marquette throws up on billboards and brochures. We can always make things a little better for others.

For now though, I thank you all for letting me be a part of this wonderful #mubb community that no outsider will ever understand. Thank you isn’t enough, of course, but from Ryan J., Ryan M., Anthony and myself, may this year be the best one yet!

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