I remember 30 years ago today when I was a second-year grad student at Villanova University. I was preparing to go home to stay with my parents for Spring Break.

Then I got a call from my manager the previous summer at my internship at IMG. Bo Johnson was now at adidas. He invited me to come out to Indian Wells, California for a week to work the 5th biggest tennis tournament in the world.

The next day I received a plane ticket via FedEx. That very night I flew to LA and rented a car. I was bleary-eyed when I pulled into the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort at 3 a.m. It can feel stark if you’ve never been to the desert at night. Pulling into the Hyatt was like entering a beautiful green oasis.

That week I worked retail, did grassroots tennis clinics, helped out with hospitality, and interacted with players. I loved every single minute. I was hooked.

Fast forward two years from that day and I was now working for adidas in Portland. I had my dream job managing US Tennis Promotions.

The first endorsement agreement I ever negotiated in my role was done in Indian Wells with the legendary Rod Laver.

I’d come back to the desert another handful of times over the next 8 years.

12 years ago I brought Jenn and my boys to the desert. We came out to be part of the 10th Desert Smash at La Quinta Resort & Club. It’s a celebrity charity event founded my by former adidas colleague and good friend Ryan Macaulay.

Earlier this week was the 20th edition of Desert Smash. Having a commitment this week in Albuquerque, I knew I needed to rally. My best friend David Ackerman joined me for the trip.

It was 3 brilliant days of golf, tennis, and experiences. Highlights were seeing Joshua Tree National Park, watching amazing players like Novak Djokovic and not-so-great players like Charlize Theron, meeting actor Christopher McDonald (“Shooter McGavin”), and taking on the island green Alcatraz at PGA West’s Stadium Course.

Huge congrats to Ryan for creating an amazing event that has raised over $3 million for charity.

Indian Wells will always remain a special place in my heart. It changed my life.

Do you have a place like it?