Every day, people all around Columbus drive/ride/walk to their jobs, eager to contribute their passion and talent to the city. This series aims to highlight those people and give them a platform to spread their love for their careers. Welcome to I Love My Job.
You may not know his face (depending on your seats), but you definitely know his name: LEO! Longtime Columbus Blue Jackets national anthem singer Leo Welsh has been stealing the hearts of hockey-goers at Nationwide Arena with his impressive pipes and passion for the game since 2003.
Here is why he loves his job so much:
614: What do you love most about your job?
LW: The thing I love most about my position with the CBJ is being such a fan and being part of the game experience. It is a total thrill every single time.
614:What parts of your job do you find most challenging?
LW: The most challenging part would have to be maintaining my health during the winter. Hard to sing well when you aren’t feeling your best.
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614:What is the most rewarding part of your job?
LW: The most rewarding aspect is when I am singing and I can see young people singing along to our National Anthem.
614:What’s the best story you have from your time with the Columbus Blue Jackets?
LW: So many great stories and interactions with fans and our military honorees. Most recently the playoffs from last year strand out. The CBJ had a World War II veteran on the ice with me every night. These men were all special and excited the crowd and made it very easy for me to be focused on honoring our country. Several were arm in arm with me and singing along to our National Anthem, very special moments.
614:Who has been the most influential mentor in your career so far?
LW: I have had many great teachers and mentors. Maestro William Boggs stands out. He is one of the reasons I moved to Columbus following graduation from Ohio University. He offered me a job with Opera Columbus. He was critical when he needed to be, demanded preparation from his singers and was supportive by offering examples and best practices at all times. Truly a great mentor.
Leo will be leading players and fans in the national anthem this Friday as the Blue Jackets open their season against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Nationwide Arena. Puck drops at 7pm.
Former Buckeye and New Orleans Saints running back running back Antonio Pittman is trading the pads and helmet of the gridiron for a fire hose and a...different helmet in his new career, according to ABC6.
Having recently graduated from the Columbus Fire Academy, Pittman is now on his first week on the job at fire station 12 on the city's west side.
A native of Akron, Pittman played for Ohio State from 2004 to 2006, and was part of the number 1 ranked team that defeated number 2 Michigan 42-39 in the "Game of the Century."
Pittman was then drafted by the New Orleans Saints, but was forced to retire from the NFL following a persistent knee injury.
"My goal was just to play football and honestly, I did that. And the dream was to have a ten-year career and to retire at 32 years old and be off in the sunset and just living comfortably. But you know, plans change and in life, you have to adapt to the change," Pittman told ABC6.
"My goal was to one day give back to a community, a city that's given me so much. A city that changed my whole outlook on life as a kid growing up in Akron."
If Hollywood would ever pick up a romantic comedy about a couple falling in love in Columbus, how would it look? Would it be an epic story ending in an intimate proposal on the Scioto Mile, or two strangers bumping into each other at the Varsity Club on game day?
Funny enough, both are very plausible.
This month, we wanted to answer the question: what do love stories in Columbus look like? And what we found is sometimes love stories don’t happen in Columbus; instead they happen because of Columbus. While some folks were high school sweethearts who rekindled the flame, others struck up conversation in countries far away just because they shared the same ZIP code. In part, where you’re from shapes who you are, and for these couples, the capital city holds a special spot in their hearts. And, as the saying goes, the rest is history.
Rachel Grauer and Aaron Guilkey
Aaron and I first met in the early 2000s at Eli Pinney Elementary in Dublin. He was my first boyfriend in fourth grade and broke my heart on AIM (AOL Instant Messenger, for the young folk). We didn’t speak a word to each other all of high school, thank you high school social hierarchy. I went on to OU and he to OSU. We reconnected after college while on a bar crawl in the Short North and the rest is history. We are getting married September 2020!
Lauren Sheridan and David Tripp
All of this is true: We met at a Clippers baseball game. It was
a team outing for work. I worked with his mom and she was
setting us up. This story is meant to be a complete disaster.
Thankfully, it wasn’t. Our first o cial date was at 16-Bit, where
we would take our engagement pictures over two years later. He
lived in Arizona for 10 years before moving back to Columbus in
2016. It’s been fun reintroducing him to the city, especially our
food and beer scene. I can’t imagine having these adventures
with anyone else.
Misty and Erin Dickinson
We met at Rendezvous Hair Salon, where she is a hairstylist. Then we spent time together at Drauma at the Bluestone, followed by a night out for a Nina West show at Axis complete with dinner at Union and after party drinks at Macs. We were with my friends and I o ered to walk her to her car which had been towed because, well, Columbus. I stayed with her until we finally found her car at 3 a.m. We started hanging out a lot after that while we both swore we were “just friends”! Almost five years later and we are back in Columbus after a two year move to Tampa. We married (twice, but the story will be way over 100 words! Second time at LaNavona), and have a thousand Columbus stories. Columbus is our home. The place we love and always come back to. There is no place like it.
Kellie Anne and Carl Rainey
I moved to Columbus from LA in 2014 and met my now-husband a month after the move. We found out quickly that we were both California sports fans and went on our first date on Halloween. Lakers vs. Clippers was on the TV at the bar, so we made a bet and the loser had to pick up the tab. My Clippers beat his Lakers, so he had to pay up. We’ve been inseparable ever since. We got married March 23, 2019, and I’m so happy to call Columbus my forever home now!
Daniel Custer and Jenny Harris
I met Jenny on a wine cruise in Santorini, Greece. I saw her from across the pier before we boarded and knew I wanted to chat her up—she was gorgeous. She and her friends sat by me on the catamaran and we began telling one another where we were from. When it got to Jenny, she said she was from Columbus. I said, “Where?!” and she said “Grandview!” We spent the rest of the weekend together, along with the past three years.
Brittany and Ethan Monk
We met as employees at Scioto Country Club in UA. He was a broke server and I was a broke student working as a hostess. We spent many holidays away from family but with each other. We are complete opposites that were impossibly attracted to one another. We married and have 2 children. Still opposites—I work in clinical research and he is a musician and stay-at-home dad. We both have made Columbus our home!
Nicole Erdeljac and Andrew Crowell
We spent the day (separately) at the 2019 Memorial Tournament and were hanging out at the Bogey Inn afterwards. He was standing at the bar and I was behind him, waiting to be served. His friend kept accidentally hitting my shoulder while trying to reach over me to get his attention. I was visibly annoyed when he asked me to tap him. But, I did. We spent the rest of the night dancing to the live band and had our first date a week later at the Columbus Arts Fest, once again, dancing to the live sounds of Anderson East. The rest is history!
Tracie Lynn and Adam Douglas Keller
It was one month to the day after my mother had lost her battle to cancer
in 2007. It was one of my favorite nights for being out in Columbus—Red,
White, and Boom. After my sister’s and my friend’s group persistently
encouraged us to go out for fireworks and time with friends, we agreed.
We needed something light and fun. What could possibly come of that?
I’ll never forget the moment that I made eye contact with this handsome, tall and smiling man. He had happened to be out with a mutual friend of our group. We made small talk, listened to live bands, and, well—the rest is history. Nearly 13 years later, we now have two great kids, two dogs, and a rich, full life in Columbus. This is the city we met in, and the one we made a life in. I couldn’t ask for a better love story.
Rebecca Scha er and Peter Yeager
We met at Ledo’s, the first bar on our OSU senior bar crawl list. Flash forward 12 hours later at World of Beer, we bumped into each other again and he handed me a raw russet potato with his name and number written on it in Sharpie. Super weird and random but it did the trick. I called him my soul mate to his face that night. Last winter he took me around town. We stopped at both those bars, reminiscing about our time together. He asked me to be his wife in the middle of the same World of Beer where he gave me that first potato, hiding the ring in a large toy Mrs. Potato head. There’s no other way I would have liked the beginning of our story to go.
Victoria and Ryan Metzinger
I met my amazing husband in Columbus on a blind date set up by mutual
friends (sounds very 1995, but it was actually 2011). He suggested a
casual drink at Grandview Cafe and I upped the ante for dinner at Third
& Hollywood. We continued to Spagio and ended at Grandview Cafe
and the rest is history! Now, with two beautiful boys, our WiFi network
will always be labeled “Third and Hollywood” as an ode to the perfect
setting for a first date. We also visit the restaurant every year on our
anniversary and it will never lose its luster.
Each January, we feature the movers and shakers of the city in in-depth, in-person interviews that dig into their backgrounds, their plans, and what ties them to the capital city. While our interview issue subjects are all Columbus-based, their stories are universal. So settle in, cozy up, and give yourself some you-time. You’ll want to read every word.
Saeed Jones has traveled across the country promoting his new memoir and chosen Columbus for his own next chapter.
Author and new Columbus transplant Saeed Jones finally has a break after wrapping up his 16-city tour to promote his new memoir How We Fight for Our Lives. It’s a book that isn’t solely about his past, but is designed as an earnest conversation with readers. The book succeeds Jones’ previous poetry collections and a stint as Executive Editor of Culture at BuzzFeed, and is already receiving numerous honors and highly- publicized acclaim.
“It took a long time to write the book, almost a decade. So,
I had a lot of time to think about writing it [being] one thing,
but when you publish it, it becomes something different. I tried
not to think so much about other people and the audience, but
I think I trusted that if I could write to myself sincerely [and]
candidly, that would be a bridge for other people,” he said.
“It’s like you’re encountering someone when they just had a
transformative experience. Something that’s really important for
me in my writing is the cost of silence and the ways we silence
ourselves. I think it’s powerful—as a writer, with the fortune I’ve
had in my career—for people to be like, ‘I’m going through it’, and
for me to be one more person who goes, ‘Me too.’”
Though some authors intend to tell their stories later in life, Jones wanted to focus his story on the time period from his upbringing in Texas through his mid-twenties to capture a specific ethos that informed his narrative. Concerned that segments of his life would become deemed irrelevant to readers, he found the immediacy of the news sparked him to publish the book sooner than later. Soon after Jones considered writing in detail about the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, which shifted the LGBTQ+ conversation, the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting occurred.
“Whenever I would get a little hard on myself about the
book’s intentions, it felt like America would go, ‘We gotta do
this now,’” Jones said. ”Everything’s not perfect but a lot has
changed from 1998. [While writing,] I was like, ‘I don’t know if
it’ll be a perfect book, but it’s gonna be the book that I want and
After his mother’s passing in 2011, Jones is attentive to
their relationship in How We Fight for Our Lives, endearingly
dedicating the book to her even after a moment of uncertainty
that occurred when he came out. In spite of having a vibrant
relationship with his mother, Jones jokes that the two weren’t
able to naturally discuss sexuality. Promoting the memoir before
Thanksgiving, Jones mentions that some LGBTQ+ readers
confided in him about their own awkward conversations
“Sure, it’s important for us to write about clear and present danger, whether that’s police brutality, homophobic or
racially-driven violence, [but] I think that it’s also important
for us to pay attention to the more subtle hurts that come to
define us. Sometimes those hurts are a result of failings; loved
ones who just can’t support us because they’re like ‘I don’t get
it’ and they kind of give up,” he said. “My mom was working two
jobs, so a lot of times she was just tired. She was like, ‘Sorry, we
can’t have a heartfelt conversation today, I gotta go to my second
job.’ That had an impact on me, and I know that has an impact
on a lot of other people in those moments. In any meaningful,
long-lasting relationships—certainly family relationships—it
is going to be complicated. If you don’t have multiple colors in
how you’re thinking about that relationship, the truth is that
something is being deadened, something is being intentionally
or unintentionally ignored or silenced.”
An avid reader of works by Margaret Atwood and Audre
Lorde, Jones recognizes a similar urgency from his memoir
through his influence James Baldwin, admitting to reading his
1956 novel Giovanni’s Room repeatedly, revisiting it at different
points of his life to gain a new perspective. Identifying with
different characters each time, Jones focused essentially on
Baldwin’s deconstruction of queerness and social dynamics,
which intersected American politics with racial identity.
“[Baldwin] wasn’t going to pretend that there was this monolithic
Blackness. He wasn’t just going to pretend that there weren’t
Black men—who he was advocating for in terms of civil rights—
who weren’t homophobic. He was like ‘We’re gonna do all this
together’” Jones said. “He’s drawing from his background in
Christianity, but he’s changed; he’s not practicing his faith in the
same way. He [was] just doing a very good job of showing how
we’re in flux and that it’s natural and better to embrace that. I
feel like that set me up to start paying attention.”
Habitually enthusiastic about settling in Columbus (or what
he calls “the promised land”), Jones speaks gleefully about The
Great Migration and Ohio boasting essential Black authors—Paul
Laurence Dunbar, Jacqueline Woodson, Hanif Abdurraqib and
Toni Morrison. While he notes that Black authors have thrived
in Ohio through a formidable writing scene, in How We Fight for
Our Lives, Jones touches keenly on the fragility of Black life. Days
prior to our conversation marked the one-year anniversary of
the death of 16-year-old Julius Tate, who was shot by Columbus
police during a sting operation.
“If we’re able to villainize people we have wronged—and
Julius was certainly wronged—it eases the rhetoric of brushing
the wrong aside,” Jones said. “It happens so often and so much
of our culture grooms all of us to move on. I’m not the one to
say what justice for Julius and for Black people impacted by that
violence looks like, but I would love to hear it. I have no interest
in telling people to be quiet. I’m a writer, so I think a lot about
editing and revision, and how you polish and the drafts you don’t
want people to see. Cities are text, too.”
While Columbus continues to be a work in progress through
systematic tensions, Jones is embracing the city’s tangible
LGBTQ+ scene after residing in New York City, Atlanta, and
San Francisco. In support of the Black Queer & Intersectional
Collective, he attended the Columbus March for Black Trans
Women in November, where he felt a sense of cohesiveness within
the city. “I feel like the march was a great example of waking me
up—unsurprisingly, it’s easier for cisgender gay men to live and
feel embraced here than Black trans women in Columbus,” Jones
said. “The stakes are high, but it feels possible. Here it feels like,
‘start reading up, go to that march, talk to people,’ as opposed to
‘here’s the finished story.’”
With a story far from over, Jones reveals that his next life work is to write about joy to balance the scales with his past struggle within How We Fight for Our Lives. Avidly writing about pain and loss, he vows to dabble into more written frameworks outside of his comfort zone. “I feel like I’ve written about myself so damn much, maybe learning to write in other forms—fiction—would be fun. I want to learn more, I feel that’s when I’m most alive, when I’m learning and realizing that I’m learning,” he said. “That’s when I feel fully present as a person, not when I think I know the beginning, middle and end.”
Follow Saeed Jones on Twitter and Instagram at @theferocity.