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Inside “Hawaiian Shirt Day,” and the first Arrowhead Pride training camp meetup

We had a blast! And you should absolutely, positively join us in 2019.

Left to right: Kent Swanson, Kdub64, Dane Van Why, 01lowbird, Pete Sweeney, Craig Stout, Joel Thorman, ChiefBearcat, Tim Dixon (partially obscured), John Dixon, Matt Stagner, Falco16, Gary McKenzie, Matt Lane, Colesauce

On Saturday, we had our first official Arrowhead Pride Meetup at Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp in St. Joseph, Missouri, which was arranged to coincide with the third annual “Arrowhead Pride Hawaiian Shirt Day” — originally organized by a small group of dedicated AP users.

If you follow any Arrowhead Pride on Twitter, you may already know some of what went on. But I’d like to expand on that a little.

First... it was a lot of fun!

The group of us who donned our Hawaiian shirts and sat together on the 40-yard line during the practice session — which included almost all of AP’s writers — had a wide-ranging conversation that went all the way from what was happening on the field to what legendary Chiefs coach Hank Stram would have sounded like if he spoke like Yoda.

I can’t remember who was doing the Hank/Yoda impression over on the other end of the group, so I apologize for not giving proper credit. But I was in stitches!

It was fascinating to listen to our incredible writers — Kent Swanson, Craig Stout, Matt Lane, Matt Stagner and Gary McKenzie — discuss what they were seeing, and talk about what it holds for the coming season. If you read Saturday afternoon’s recap of their impressions, you probably have some sense of what it was like.

But it was nothing like being there in person. Slowly, Chiefs fans sitting around us realized who we were, and began taking part in the conversation. They learned the same thing I did on Saturday: this is an incredible team! Every one of them is very smart, extremely knowledgeable, and absolutely dedicated to giving you amazing coverage of the Chiefs.

It was particularly interesting to listen to Craig, Kent and Matt (Lane) talk. These three guys (who make up the AP Nerd Squad) are tuned to the same wavelength — even to the point of sometimes finishing each other’s sentences! This isn’t to say there isn’t some disagreement among them on specific issues relating to Chiefs football, but they are all approaching their coverage in the same way: with methodical, painstaking work that is based on solid data.

None of us can say what the future holds for the Chiefs in 2018. But I can say with absolute confidence that your best bet for Chiefs coverage is right here on the pages of Arrowhead Pride.

After the practice, we adjourned to our meetup spot in the parking lot, where we were joined by AP founder Joel Thorman, our editor-in-chief Pete Sweeney, and former Chiefs linebacker (and current AP contributor) Shawn Barber. Shawn was really rocking the Hawaiian look, but Joel — as our founder — got a pass.

Turns out it’s good to be the founder. Who knew?

Shawn drew quite a knot of our writers talking Chiefs football. More AP readers came by, and we handed out many Arrowhead Pride T-shirts. Some of those who came by proudly told us their usernames. Some of them didn’t — which, of course, was fine (We’re not running a police state here... you know?). Some of them volunteered they just lurked on AP.

We were glad to shake hands and get to know every one of them and were gratified to learn how much they enjoy reading Arrowhead Pride.

For reasons that were never clear to us, a Kona Ice truck was parked right next to where we had set up. When its proprietor appeared, Gary (our hero) suggested to him that he might have some customers close at hand, so he obligingly pulled up in front of our tent so we could give him some business.

It was just the thing for a hot August day.

Joel told us about his recent visit with his brother Chris Thorman — now a vice president for digital content at National Geographic in Washington, DC. As longtime readers know, Chris and Joel co-founded the original Arrowhead Pride site more than 12 years ago, and both eventually moved up the ladder at our parent company, SB Nation.

When I told Joel I hoped our annual meetup would one day include hundreds of AP readers wearing Hawaiian shirts, he said, “That would be great! Meet up here in the parking lot, and charge into the stadium as a group, led by a Flag Warrior carrying our Arrowhead Pride flag!”

I really liked that idea.

Not everything was perfect. I wish I had thought to take more photos of the people we met in the parking lot. We need to do a better job of figuring out the size distribution in our T-shirt orders. We should have published a map of exactly where we’d be in the parking lot, so people could find us more easily.

But it’s like anything else we have ever done at Arrowhead Pride: we’ve started small, and figured out how to serve you better.

Count on it: next year will be even bigger and better. Eventually — just like the Chiefs team we love — we hope to be holding auditions for a Flag Warrior.

And I promise, Falco: you can wear your shirt next year, and it won’t be the same as mine.

Just like every year before, I’ll be buying a new one.

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