This was always our year

I was up early this morning.

The streets were quieter than usual, probably due to the fact that most of the town was still sleeping off the previous nights’ celebration. Though it was quiet, there was something different in the air. Something that this city hasn’t felt in 52 years. Victory.

We all wake up this morning as champions. The entire city of Cleveland. For everyone who ever doubted us, for Believeland, for everything else we’ve gone through… we made it. We are all winners today. And damn, does that feel good.

 

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It. Happened. !!!!! #cleveland #mycity #ahhhhhhh

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Did I ever tell you guys my grandpa shot hoops with LBJ in 2002?

I finally got a chance to watch Believeland last night, which originally aired prime time Saturday on ESPN. And while I wasn’t a huge fan of some of the people they interviewed for it (I’m looking at you, Windy), I thought it was well put together. It was probably super depressing for anyone who has lived through the heartbreak that is Cleveland sports, but, in all honestly I think it was mostly a learning experience for my generation.

As a 25-year-old female who was born and raised in Cleveland, I never rooted for any other teams. I never saw any relevance in any other teams besides the Browns, the Cavs, and the Tribe. I heard stories from my dad and my grandpa about the painful history in Cleveland sports, and I knew we hadn’t seen a championship since my dad was all but five years old, but it’s hard to put that disappointment in perspective when you haven’t experienced 90% of it first hand.

It’s important to note that I only started actively following Cleveland sports when I was a freshman in college, so around 2009-2010. I worked for my school’s football team so I started paying more attention to the Browns, and learning the differences between NCAA football and the NFL. I began to familiarize myself with players, stats, coaches, and all that–partly because I was around dudes like 75% of the time and that’s all they wanted to talk about, and partly because I found it all so interesting. I like learning new things because I’m a freak, but whatever.

When I look back at my own recollection of monumental moments in Cleveland sports history, there are two major ones that I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when it happened. You probably know where I’m going with this. First time being, where I was (Myrtle Beach) and what I was doing (sitting on the couch, trying to get everyone to hush while I listened) when The Decision aired, and where I was (at my old apartment sitting on my roommate’s massive sectional) and what I was doing (eating peanut butter, responding to a twitter message about it) as soon as the SI article was tweeted and LeBron announced he was coming home. The fact that those two moments are so ingrained in my memory, made Believeland a lot more meaningful to someone like me.

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In my lifetime, the Indians have been to the World Series twice (and lost), the Cavs went to the finals twice (and lost), and the Browns were the quintessential “Maybe Next Year” team (just as they have always been). Last year when the Cavs made their playoff run, I knew there was no way we would win a championship. But something feels different about this year. Up until last night I had no doubt in my mind that 2016 was our year. No doubt in my mind that we were bringing a championship home. As it stands today, we are 9-0 in the playoffs–sweeping the first two teams–and damn, do we look good out there. This team is fun to watch. They look like they are actually having fun. That’s what’s different about this year… there is no longer these vibes of frustration and disappointment all over the court. I can’t explain it. I just have a feeling.

And then all of a sudden, last night I’m plucked off of my cloud; woken up from my dream state, and reminded that this is what always happens. It gets so close that we can actually see it, touch it, taste it, feel it… And then it’s ripped away from us, in the most painful way possible. The Commissioner’s Trophy was literally in our locker room and it had to be removed. The champagne was popped in the dugout. The drive, the fumble, the move. The shot, the decision, the return. It begs the question, what will this city do if it finally happens? And more importantly, what will we do if it doesn’t?

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We Bleed Ohio T-Shirt GIVEAWAY!!!

It was a warm and sunny Saturday, though in Cleveland, that can change in an instant. My friends and I headed over to Cleveland Bazaar — northeast Ohio’s longest-running indie craft show, which took place just across the street from the West Side Market on May 16th. It was only slightly drizzling by time we made our way out and around to look at all the local vendors had to offer. From hand-crafted pictures, to t-shirts, to dog treats… Cleveland Bazaar has everything: with a Cleveland twist.

One table really caught my eye, with its unique designs printed on high quality tanks and tees… I couldn’t help myself when it came to We Bleed Ohio. Wallet aching from a long weekend, I absolutely had to purchase a tank that was a play on the orange “Cavs” logo, but with the words “Ohio” instead.

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After countless compliments on the tank itself, I decided to do a little research on this company. Since founding We Bleed Ohio in 2011, graphic designer and Cleveland-native, Dave Gruss, has grown his business from part-time screen printing to a full-time gig — unveiling an official brick and mortar location downtown in the 5th Street Arcades last month. In an interview with Dave, I was able to learn more about We Bleed Ohio and the man behind the designs.


kc: How long have you been a graphic designer?
dg: I started designing shirts under the artist name Griggitees in 2008. Mainly submitting designs to one-a-day shirt sites, which were new back then. Slowly, I started getting approvals and picking up clients for small independents clothing brands or local bands. I joined several online t-shirt communities that really helped find new clients and for them to find me.

kc: What made you want to start WBO?
dg: At the time Peyton Hillis was the Browns superstar and he did this Incredible Hulk pose after making a great play. I knew I had to make that a shirt and WBO was kind of born from that. I came up with the brand We Bleed Ohio to provide unique designs for the die-hard Ohio sports fans. I didn’t want to have just one shirt to sell, so after quick sketch of a Wahoo skull I added that as another shirt and that was the start of it all.

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kc: Why is it important to you that you represent everything Ohio with your designs?
dg: Ohio is like family to me. I love my sports teams with a passion. There was this one episode of Saved by the Bell I watched growing up and there was a joke thrown in about the Cleveland Indians. I remember sitting there thinking how that stung a bit–having my team and my hometown being made fun of. There is a pride of being from Ohio that most people don’t understand. I think it tells a lot about who we are. We stand together through the thick and thin of it all.

kc: Where do you get the inspiration for the unique designs — like the Skull Chief Wahoo or the Browns Leg Lamp?
dg: When I did the Skullhoo design there was an artist who did a series of famous cartoon characters with abnormally shaped heads in proportion to their bodies and what their skeletons would look like if they were real. I decided to do that with Wahoo. The Browns Leg Lamp came from brainstorming ideas for an ugly Christmas sweater.

kc: You state on your website that you only use Next Level Apparel as your shirt supplier… why is that especially important to you?
dg: It is important that the apparel is consistent and of the highest quality so customers know what to expect each and every time when purchasing from We Bleed Ohio. It is equally as important that the manufacturer is ethically responsible if I am going to associate it with my brand.

kc: What kind of steps had to be taken to open the brick and mortar store and what led to your decision to do it?
dg: I took my time, kept track of sales and costs to create a business plan. I also looked at several different locations over a period of time and what else was developing around the area. I think the addition of Barrio to the 5th Street Arcades is what finally made me pull the trigger. I love their tacos.

kc: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given as an entrepreneur?
dg: Don’t be afraid to fail because it will happen.

kc: What kinds of things do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not working on WBO stuff?
dg: I spend all my free time with my family. If they let me, I’ll get a few rounds of golf in or make it out to a few games.

kc: Are the Cavs winning it all this year?
dg: Nothing is promised, the Cavs will have to give everything they got.

kc: Any predictions for the Browns season?
dg: I would love it if the Browns went with the orange pants all season.


Follow We Bleed Ohio on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and be sure to check out their brand new retail location at the 5th Street Arcades – now open!


GIVEAWAY TIME!

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Just in time for the NBA Finals!!! Want to win this unisex wine and gold Believeland t-shirt? It couldn’t be easier to enter!

Rules for entering:

  1. Follow me on Instagram – @kimbcast
  2. Tag two friends in the comments section on the giveaway photo
  3. Follow We Bleed Ohio on Instagram – @WeBleedOhio

The giveaway will run now until the end of the day Friday, June 5th and the winner will be announced via Instagram on Monday. Good Luck!!

[questions regarding entry can be sent to kc@kcincleveland.com]

And, if you don’t win, use the discount code WEBLEED10 for 10% off your next purchase!