Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Year of Yes

“Can I go to Vegas?” I asked my future boss.

He was offering me a job, yet my mind couldn't stray from Sin City.

It’s a funny story.

After I graduated from UCLA, one of the women’s basketball donors offered me a full-time position working for his company.

It was an amazing opportunity, but for some reason my genes were telling me I wanted to give broadcasting a shot. Whenever anyone would ask me what I wanted to do post-college my cop-out answer was always “sports reporter.”

But you see, out of the three Kornet siblings, I knew the least about sports.

Luke would run home from school every day just to turn on PTI by 3:30pm. He would have the entire 1-hour's worth of SportsCenter memorized while doing his physics homework. He knew Derek Jeter’s batting percentage, Lebron’s assist to turnover ratio, and how many yards Peyton Manning threw two Sundays ago.


I, on the other hand, knew what time and what date High School Musical’s sequel was coming out and when Hilary Duff was expected to go on tour in Phoenix, Arizona.

I knew the bare minimum when it came to sports. Except for which athletes I thought were cute. I could give you a top ten at the age of ten.

The only thing I loved about sports was playing them. I loved picking up something new, playing it til I was good enough to beat you, then doing it all over again.

So how in the world was I just going to let that go and start broadcasting about other people beating people??

The task was tough.

So tough... I almost moved to Philadelphia.

One of friends, Matt Fraschilla, was GA’ing for Villanova’s men’s team and had a spare bedroom. He said it was all mine.

Rent-free.

It was too good to be true.

I had no idea what I’d do in Philly, but I’d figure it out. It was closer to family, a train ride away from a Knicks game, and the home of Nicole Kornet’s greatest obsession of all time, Allen Iverson.

I was all in.

Until I received a phone call from my UCLA coach, Cori Close. She asked me out on a sushi date, and told me it would be best for me to stay in Los Angeles.

And work for her.

At UCLA.

And live in an apartment.

Rent-free.

Now THAT was too good to be true.

Why did she offer me a position, you might ask?? Because of this very blog. She basically created a position for me.

My job was to travel LA, write about how amazing the city was, blog about it, let recruits in on the juice, sit back, relax, and watch the magic happen.


It was a dream job.

I got to create videos, do color commentary with the LEGENDARY Dave Marcus, emcee basketball games, and write.


Not to mention...

Interview THE Sean McKaveney!


AND Wonder Woman herself!

(It's Cori).
And this guy too.


A few months later season ended.

Which brings me back to Vegas.

As soon as basketball was over I wasn’t sure what was next for me. I had a conference call with the PAC12 Network lined up.

It went smoothly, but the PAC12 Network isn’t a major television network. You have to be signed to a FOX, ESPN, or CBS first and then freelance and pick up games with PAC12 before season even begins.

So what the heck does that mean?

It means you have to get an agent.

Coincidentally, I had interned for one of the best broadcasting agents in the biz spring of my senior year at UCLA.

I was set.

For something I wasn’t sure I really wanted to do. And in sports broadcasting you better want to do it. Because the rigamorale is real.

After a long, hard sit-down of about 5 minutes, I decided I didn’t wanna do it. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew that I didn’t want to jump into a career I wasn’t extremely passionate about… yet.

The lease on my apartment was ending soon, which brings me to another funny little story.

After I graduated, Coach Cori wasn’t the only person who offered me a job.

Kirk Pasich did too.

Kirk is one of the country’s best-known and most respected laywers, as well as the president of Blue √Član Records. And the guy I mentioned earlier.

He wanted me to be the Social Media Manager for Blue √Član Records. My job would have been to help the artists with their social media accounts, write for the newsletter, travel to gigs, and be hands-on with the artists.

For some reason, the psycho-UCLA obsessed, spotlight hog couldn’t leave her niche.

Now here’s where it gets EVEN funnier.

I told Kirk no, Cori yes, and ended up living with Kirk.

Remember how I told you Cori said she could find me a place in LA for free? The free place was with Kirk Pasich. He had a spare studio attached to his house.


And boom goes the guilt.

Not only did I decline Kirk's incredible offer, but I would be using his gorgeous studio for FREE IN LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA.

There is no way Kirk Pasich isn’t getting extra crowns in heaven.

Mid-way through the year Kirk put his house up for sale. It sold that week.

Angel Kirk made a promise to me, however, and told me there was a place for me in the mansion in Beverly Hills.

It's casual.

Thus, the Fresh Princess of Bel-Air was formed.

This was simply a rental while his new house was being finished up. But boy did it sparkle.

My breakfast nook

There's a pool back left, do you see it?

 It made for a fantastic venue for Law Prom, too.


After about a month of mansion life, my time drew to a close. Kirk “felt so bad that he kept making me move” that he signed a lease for an apartment in Westwood for me to have as my own instead.

Crazy.

Unbelievable.

Undeniably.

The best day of my life.

I could walk to work.

And Denny’s.

They have a great build-your-own hot fudge sundae.

Kirk fulfilled his promise of housing me for a year, and outdid himself. I will forever be grateful for you, Kirk Pasich.

My lease ended a few months ago.

After it did, I wasn’t sure what my future held. All the while, I kept thinking about Kirk. I couldn’t help it. I wanted to know how on earth a human being could be so generous. I wanted to learn from him. I wanted to work for him. I wanted my job back.

So, I asked him.

I wrote him a letter. Less than a week later, I got a text from him. He asked if we could get coffee.

I walked into the coffee shop.

Sat down with Kirk.

And he offered me right there on the spot.

This time it wasn’t for the Social Media Managerial role. This time I would be traveling to New York, Nashville, Paris, London, Ireland, Chicago, and Greater LA.

Pinch me.

Harder.

New Title: Artist Coordinator.


I’ll be in charge of several artists on the label and dabble in a little bit of everything. From lining up which songs go where on the album, to contract negotiations, to music videos, to album art, to blogging— you name it! It'll have my flair on it.

Music has been my passion all my life. Some would say basketball, but some who know me best would say otherwise. 

Kirk asked when I would be available to start.

Technically, my lease had just ended. He knew that. (Because it was his).

I could have started that very next day.

But then I blurted out…

“Can I go to Vegas??”

It was May 30th. The NBA Summer League was July 7-17th in Las Vegas, Nevada. And I desperately wanted to go and watch Luke.

Kirk looked through the calendar on his phone and abruptly said,

“Sure.”

I was astonished.

“Looks like we don’t need you here until August. We want you to travel to Nashville for Americanafest in September, so it’d be nice for you to familiarize yourself in the office for a month beforehand.”

My start date is August 6th.

He gave me the entire summer off.

It’s like I’m a little kid again. I moved back to Nashville for the summer and have been traveling nonstop.

Destination #1 was to Colorado. I was able to road trip with Lindsey and move Coach Kari into her new stomping grounds.


Destination #2 was Lexington, Kentucky to hang out with the grandparents. And Copper.


Destination #3 was Fourth of July in Nashville.


Destination #4 was Little Rock, Arkansas to help move Johnny into his BRAND NEW house!


And lastly, Destination #5: Vegas, baby.


Next week I’m off to New York to help Luke move in, and the following week I’ll finally be home sweet home— in Los Angeles, California.

I think the moral of this blog post is HOLY MOLEY I GOT A JOB BECAUSE OF THESE BLOG POSTS.

Cheers to that!


My mom has always taught me to say yes.

Say yes to the crazy opportunities that come your way, because you never know where they’re going to take you.

So, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I, Nicole Kornet, am employed.

Mom bought it.


Monday, May 21, 2018

Just Another Mundane Monday

Many times I desire to write a blog, yet find myself with a slew of sporadic thoughts and zero direction. Then I put my headphones in. I board a plane. The sun starts to set. And Taylor Swift’s sweet melodies come rattling through my headphones. I listen to her every time I write. Old Taylor. Three songs into her Red album and I find myself moving mountains, with the ebbs and flows of every paragraph seamlessly transitioning into the next.


My mom’s a lot like me. Or perhaps, the inevitable inverse... I’m a lot like my mom. Back in high school, Katy Perry was our girl. When ‘Firework’ came out my mother made me promise to play it at her funeral. I know my father would never approve of this, but knowing my mother she’d out-live my father just so he wouldn’t get the chance to.

My mom sang the song “I Can Only Imagine” at her own mother’s funeral. I was really young, but I remember it vividly. It was beautiful. When the movie came out this spring I really wanted to see it. Normally, I’m very skeptical of Christian movies. Frankly, they’re way too cheesy for my liking. But this one was different. It reminded me of my grandma, my mom, and the extraordinary power music has on each and every one of us.

It got me thinking.

I remember earlier this year when I’d travel to New York for a couple of Luke’s games. The family would be jam packed into the Camry and Gloria Gaynor would be bolting out how she’d survive and all of a sudden the whole family would too. Songs from the Wicked soundtrack would come on shuffle next and we wouldn't let those go unsung either.


 I got the best of both my parents.


Kind of.

I'm tall like my father and I dance like my mother.

I’m a performer. I’m secretly convinced I’m an amazing hip-hop dancer in the mirror, but my father would definitely tell you otherwise, especially after I break out the chicken neck.


Despite my best efforts to stay in rhythm, turns out my father wasn't the only one who thought I couldn't dance. Or act. Or perform.

There are two life-altering things in life I didn’t get into:
1.)   Stanford.
2.)   Cinder-ella.

Cinder-ella was a modern take on the show Cinderella that my high school theatre department put on. It was a dancical. I so badly wanted to be Cinderella, but I knew myself. I knew my talents. I decided to try out for the part of the wicked step-mother, Estella. Not the star, but a fundamental piece of the play, nonetheless.

When the cast was set, and the list of names was stapled to the bulletin board, I walked over prepared as ever for my wildest dream to come true.

After a finger-by-finger, name-by-name stare down, my heart sank.

Oh, my name was on the paper all right.

“STAGE HAND: Nicole Kornet”

I wore all black.

And my one job was to move a window.

But boy, let me tell you—

I moved that window.

With the biggest smile on my face.

I stood on the stage and felt the audience’s energy before me.

It was high school theatre, so the lights weren’t completely off in between scenes like how they are on Broadway. It was still fairly lit so the clumsy, not-so-sure footed high-schoolers wouldn’t break things on set.

I remember walking out, humongous smile and all, grabbing that window and looking through the panes. I saw my friends and my friends saw me.

They got out of their seats and started clapping.

I put that window on its correct duct taped “X” and waved back like I was in the Miss America Pageant. More roars of snaps, claps, whistles and “Ow! Ow!’s” echoed throughout the cafegymatorium. 

I felt like the Disney Princess herself.

I may have only moved a window, the song “I Can Only Imagine” may have moved the world, but that’s what performance does to me. It drives me. It inspires me. Inspiration stirs up hope. It stirs up that little mustard seed inside of you that says, “You can.” You can be that famous musician. You can be that pro athlete. You can be whoever you want to be.

_______________

After piling 7 rusty propane tanks onto a bell cart, locking myself out on the terrace once again with a cut on my foreman that screamed tetanus shot, I thought to myself,

“Is this really what my life has come to?”

But then I saw my pumped biceps from placing all 7 tanks into their designated heat lamp, I caught a glimpse of the beautiful ocean lingering in the distance, I felt the sun on my shoulders, and I gracefully changed all 7 propane tanks without anyone’s help. (I used to need a lot of help.)

So yeah, my life had come to this, and I was proud of it.


A year later, and I’m a UCLA graduate still cocktail waitressing at the Marriott.

I was supposed to be on ESPN by now.

Isn’t it funny how we all think we’re going to do what no one else has ever done before?

“I’m going to have the coolest job, live in the biggest house, and everyone will know me-- by 22.”

“I’m going to skip all of those rudimentary steps that everyone else takes because I am DIFFERENT.”

Isn’t it funny? I think it’s funny.

Alberto just celebrated his 18th year working as a server at the Marriott. He’s 42. And he’s been providing for his 3 children for 18 years now.

He never comes in without a smile. He never panics when fifteen tables are full, we’re out of high-ball glasses, and our bartender is swamped at the bar.

He simply puts his hand on my shoulder and smiles.

He makes me want to work hard for him.

He makes me feel like what I’m doing is important.

He makes me realize it’s not about the title of the position at all.

It’s about your mindset.

Immediately I put myself in that high school window-moving Nicole Kornet frame of mind:

“Sure, all I’m doing is moving a window. Or maybe that’s just what YOU think I’m doing. I see the stage. I see the audience. I see opportunity.”

Gone are the days when scholarship checks provide for your every expense, the opportunities to dream never quiet, and your biceps had more definition.

_______________

I remember when my aunt came to visit when I was in middle school. She’s the youngest of my mom's siblings and was in college back then. She took my room and I was booted to the couch, aka mom’s bed, and dad was booted to the couch. I ran up to my room one morning and my Aunt Tiff’s college books were scattered all over my bed with highlighters lighting up the pages. Notes were squiggled in between the margins, the words were tiny, and there weren’t any pictures like my social studies books had inside. I read a sentence and although I knew how to pronounce each word, I had no idea what each word meant once put together.

I thought to my sixth grade self, “I’m screwed.”

"If you could do college, then after college you must be 20 and brilliant," I thought to myself.

Being 24 and not brilliant, I now know that sixth grade Nicole hasn’t really changed all that much.

She just showers more.

After college, you go back to square one. You have to get through the boring, ordinary, mundane jobs that everyone else has to, too.

It’s like I’ve forgotten about the hours upon hours of shooting in the driveway. The laps around the neighborhood with my stopwatch. The life-long practice it took to become a professional.

It never ends.

Just because college ends, doesn’t mean practice does, too.

You can’t grow weary of the ordinary. The normal. The mundane.

Because those who don’t grow weary make it to the top. They become known. They change lives. It takes rudimentary jobs done in an extraordinary way, extra hours added to a long workweek, and a mindset that never wavers from the person he or she wants to become.

It’s not what you’re doing now that matters. It’s how you’re doing it.

As much as Luke hates my obnoxious social media prowess, I do it because seeing 10-year-old him inspires 24-year-old me, and hopefully an inspired me can inspire you.



 Because if not, we can only imagine.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Ignore the Noise

I’ve never really liked country music.

Partly because my dad calls it noise, and partly because my mom is too gung-ho on Rick Springfield to appreciate a genre without innumerable key changes.

I vividly remember driving down I-35 South in rural Oklahoma. Every single station on the radio was country. Forced to keep it on because I can’t stand the quiet, there, in my Ford Focus, for the first time, I heard the sweet, sultry voice of Keith Urban.

And everything changed.

Last week I was in Nashville. It was a Sunday like any other Sunday. The Kornets were all together, the Kornets went to church, and the Kornets were late.

It was probably John's fault.

As soon as we tiptoed our way through the back doors and the whole congregation was aware of it, I looked up, and realized we weren’t the only ones who were late.

It was Nicole Kidman. Nicole and her two little girls came walking towards us and nestled into the pew directly in front of me.

I know I was supposed to be paying attention, and I usually do (I promise), but I couldn’t help but study her every move.

Five minutes later Nicole’s husband, Keith Urban, walked in.

My heart stopped. I didn’t mean for it to. I was listening to the priest I swear.

But those blow-dried, silky smooth, fluffy golden locks seemed to flutter with his every step.

“Wow, he must balayage” John whispered under his breath.

There wasn’t enough room in the pew for the whole family to fit. As Keith looked around for an open seat I almost jumped in the air and lassoed him towards me.

Unfortunately, a woman’s diaper bag lay propped up on the seat besides me, and Keith was forced to look elsewhere. There went my chance of holding his hand during the Our Father.

I tell you all about my infatuation with Keith & Nicole for a reason—

I’m struggling.

I’m struggling with the obsession for fame.


My whole life I’ve always been the best.

I got an unassisted triple play in tee-ball.

I scored 20 in an 8th grade girls’ basketball game, when I was in fifth grade.

I never lost a game in basketball, volleyball, or softball all three years of middle school.

Sure, everyone can appear humble. But on the inside, I knew I was good. And I never wanted anyone to be better. That’s why I shot for hours on end in the driveway. That's why I set up makeshift cones in the street and ran suicides every night after school. That's why I was always the last one to come inside because I wouldn't go inside before my brothers. I wasn't going to lose. I wanted to be the best in the world.


Which is why right now, at 24, I’m struggling.

Without sports, what can I do well?

Without throwing a football, fielding a grounder, splashing a triple, what am I good for?

What can I wow others with?

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. It has eaten me up on the inside.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written my last personal blog. Initially I wrote one all about Luke. All about his first game. It was one of the best days. But after the buzz wore off, after the reality of it all set, after he fit in— it hit me.

I’m jealous.

I’m not jealous of him being in the NBA.

And I’m not jealous of his success.

I’m jealous of the noise.

I have always thought I was going to be the next NBA player in the family.

Yes, I’m a girl and yes, I was 12, but without a doubt in my mind I was going to be the next Calvin Cambridge.

Everyone was going to talk about me. They always have. So why would it stop?

My little brother got good. That’s why.


Despite the debate, men who play basketball are always going to get a liiiiiiiittle more attention than women who play basketball.

Basketball has always been my vehicle. My gateway to success. Without it I feel inadequate. Like everything else I do will never be as good as the athlete I once was. And the worst part is... I don't even miss playing.

Sure, I love the game, but what I really wanted was the fame.


Ever since I was a little girl I grew up idolizing those who embraced the spotlight. Allen Iverson and Barry Bonds were my favorite athletes for Pete’s sake. What 8-year-old girl forces their mother to take her to Kinko’s so she could laminate Barry’s articles after he broke the home run record with 756?

This girl.

Me.

Media lovin,’ multi-sport athlete, attention-seeking Coley.

All my life I’ve wanted to be famous. I’ve imagined my face on that big billboard in Times Square since I was 7. And there Luke is, in New York of all places, playing for the New York Knicks. Luke is living the life that I have always dreamed of for myself.

And he doesn’t even want it.

He just wants to play the game.

He plays because he loves basketball with all of his heart.


And I can’t say the same.

I think that's what's hardest for me.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy it. I like playing. But I love performing. I love putting on a show. Sometimes I feel like that’s what I’ve always done. God gave me the talent to play sports. So, in order to put on a show like my favorite Broadway stars do, I must play basketball the only way I know how— like a performer.


Luke, on the other hand, does not play that way. He plays the same way he does his physics homework.

He uses his IQ. Then attacks. No fun and games. Maybe an occasional smile, because he loves to play, but not because the camera's on him and he wants to give the crowd a little somethin somethin (like his sister used to do).


My goal is still to one day be plastered amongst the billboards of Times Square, whether it be through modeling, commercial work, or color commentating, because that’s where my true love lies. It’s who I am; it's what makes me happy.

But most importantly, I can't let jealously creep in.


All my life I've envisioned this picture perfect lifestyle for myself. I was going to be a famous athlete, marry a NFL quarterback, and live in a mansion in Los Angeles, California.

The funny thing is— God’s kinda done that, but better.

He has given me what I truly wanted.

I’m at UCLA, I’m broadcasting, and I’m dating the best man in the world.

Meet Sean.

Guys, I met him at church.

Left side.

Across the aisle.

Fifth pew from the front.

6’5.”

Blonde hair.

Blue eyes.


Catholic.

(And a quarterback).

Now tell me that isn’t God-ordained.

He may not be an NFL quarterback, my first name may not be Gisele, he may not have 50,000 followers, I might just always be "the sister of a NBA player," and that's okay.

Luke will always have his thing, and I will always have mine. That's how it's always been. As similar as we are, in some ways we couldn't be more different.


I've always wanted to be the Keith Urban, and he doesn't give two toots about that. But once I start comparing myself to others, doubting my own abilities, and allowing jealousy to overtake me I need remember the Cardinal sin:

Comparison is the thief of all joy.


The public's perception of you will always fluctuate, which is why sometimes I can feel myself fluctuating with it. It's not about who you know, who you date, or what you do.


Yeah, I like famous people, I struggle because I'm human, but I want to make a difference, and I believe one day I will.


However, right now I have a ways to go. I have some growing up to do.


So, in the meantime, model yourselves after the Luke Kornets, the Sean McKaveneys, and the humble hearts who want to serve, rather than be served.

I know I will.


Proverbs 22: 
A good name is more desirable than great riches;
    to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
Rich and poor have this in common:
    The Lord is the Maker of them all.
The prudent see danger and take refuge,
    but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.
Humility is the fear of the Lord;
    its wages are riches and honor and life.
The generous will themselves be blessed,
    for they share their food with the poor.
One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace
    will have the king for a friend.