This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Webb, who is behind the sports and lifestyle blog Venus Trapped in Mars. Read on to find out about her love for her alma mater the Tennessee Volunteers, the inspiration for VTIM, and how sports fandom has helped her in her current job.
Q: As someone who didn’t get into sports until later in life, I’m always curious how other people became interested in sports. How did you become a sports fan?
A: My Dad was an AMAZING basketball player. He earned a scholarship at Texas A&M, but eventually transferred to Randolph Macon College in Virginia where he is still on the Top 10 all-time leading scorers list.
When I was little, he took me to basketball signups. Next to the basketball table was cheerleading. Much to his surprise, I asked him if I could do cheerleading instead. He told me that I could choose which I’d rather do. Not wanting to break his heart, I chose basketball and the rest was history. I played everything from basketball, to softball, to golf and thanks to my sports loving father, I was hooked on it all.
Q: What is your earliest sports memory?
A: I’m sure it will come as no surprise that I was a diehard tomboy growing up. I was obsessed with the Atlanta Braves. At the time, their farm team played in my hometown of Richmond, Va. I was in elementary school, but can remember Chipper, Andrew Jones, John Smoltz and Javy Lopez all coming through Richmond before, of course, having legendary careers in Atlanta.
I literally wore the exact same, XXXL (JK, was probably a large but looked like a tent on me) ragged Atlanta Braves t-shirt to class every single day of my 5th grade life.
The same year the braves won the World Series in 1995, my Aunt gave me a meet and greet pass to get Chipper Jones’ autograph while he was at a convention in Richmond. It was my first real memory of being an obnoxious, ridiculous, over-the-top obsessive sports fan.
Coincidentally, that was also my introduction to the world of Chipper Jones ugly sweaters.
Q: You currently run a successful blog called Venus Trapped in Mars (VTIM) that has more than 2 million page views. Can you tell me a little bit about when you first started VTIM and how it’s evolved over time?
A: Like most of my best ideas, Venus Trapped in Mars was conjured up while I was in the bathroom. I wish I could say that was a joke, but that’s where I was when I thought of it.
You see, I’ve always been able to explain a sport to my non-sports loving girlfriends in ways that they can understand, far more effectively than any guy could. I was trying to figure out how I could effectively share that ability with the world.
Unfortunately, I have shiny red ball syndrome, so I knew writing an actual book was out. This was back in 2010, right in the height of blog popularity. “Why not start a blog?!?” I thought! Before you knew it, I was brainstorming blog names while in the bathroom, and Venus Trapped in Mars was born!
Since I started VTIM three years ago, it has transformed into a sports and lifestyle blog that embodies all of my passions. I focus on everything from my daily life, humor, my personal struggles, entertaining, love, my two rescue pups and everything in between. Although I write a lot about my personal life now, every Friday is still (and always will be) devoted to sports!
Q: You credit your post-college success to your sports knowledge and competitive passion. How has it been helpful?
A: My blog actually got me my current job! I work with mostly men, all sports nuts. I am confident that my sports-focused blog is what helped me stand out from the crowd on my resume.
If my sports blog was what helped me get the job, then my passion for sports allowed me to keep it. Every day I talk sports with at least one of the guys at work.
During football season, the guys in the warehouse come over to my cubicle to rag on me about Tennessee barely beating App St. in the opener. I, of course, also make it a point to visit their desk and make fun of their team for losing to Houston in the opener!
It helps build a camaraderie with a group of people who I might not have had anything in common with otherwise.
Q: Because of VTIM’s success you’ve had some incredible collaborations, what has been the most exciting opportunity that you’ve had because of VTIM?
A: I’ve been to the Kentucky Derby, stood in Victory Lane at the Duck Commander 500 (still scratching my head as to how I pulled that one off) and met Elvis Andrus from the Texas Rangers. My most exciting collaboration was when I was picked to film a Dallas Cowboys Female Fan Gameday Ritual video. The video was filmed in my home, at my favorite Dallas neighborhood with my dogs and of course screaming at AT&T Stadium for the Cowboys/Pats game. That was a surreal moment, having a camera crew filming me at a Cowboys game. I felt like a big shot for 3 hours of my life, and I’ll never forget that day as long as I live.
Q: What is your favorite jersey that you have hanging in your closet?
A: Peyton Manning #16 University of Tennessee Jersey
Q: What is one storyline in any sport that you are looking forward to this year?
A: As I write this, my Vols — that was really just an excuse to bring up college and my alma matter, The University of Tennessee #GBO! —- are currently 3-0 and are the favorite to win the SEC East. I for one cannot wait to see how this pans out. I hope I’m one happy Volunteer come December.
The past 10 years has been BRUTAL to us Vol fans, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I will NEVER root for any other school, no matter how hard my boyfriend tries to convince me that I should root for that other UT school in Austin. It just ain’t happenin’, folks.
Q: If you could have dinner with any athlete living or dead who would you choose and why?
A: Oh wow, good question…. but an easy question for me! Pat Summit. Pat shaped my life more than she will ever know. She was a role model, a motivator, a fire cracker. She was the best who ever lived at what she did. She is the reason I chose the college I chose. Honestly, in some ways, I guess you could say she shaped my life to bring me to where I am today.
Pat Summitt is the reason I went to the University of Tennessee, which was the greatest 4.5 years of my life. As a kid, I of course dreamed of playing for Pat. As it turned out though, you need more than a 3 point shot -- think height, speed, agility, stamina, heart, aggression, defense, perseverance, dedication -- to play for Pat. All I could do was shoot... and I had a bit too strong of a lust for pizza.
I would love to have dinner with Pat, to simply tell her, “Thank you, you changed my life.”