The Post Game Show

Monday, April 17, 2006

Confessions of an HBCU Sports Writer

I've spent this last morning of Easter vacation reflecting on the last four years of my life, and it's been an interesting time to say the least. I've gone from a shy, timid kid who didn't even attend post game interviews in my first year, to nearly as good as reporter as I am a writer, which is key if you want a job in this business. I still remember my first on-site assignment like it was yesterday.

It was actually September 7, 2002, the Delaware State football home opener. I was expecting something of a close game, but obviously I didn't know the opponent too well. Savannah State was horrible then, and is horrible now, but a 41-9 win was not something I expected. Well, it makes for a good story since the team lost six straight after that game and finished the season 4-8.

Close to four years later, my time as Sports Editor of the Hornet newspaper is winding down, and even though I'll be back in the fall, lord willing covering football, I'm reflecting on times good and bad, great moments and low periods, and the overall blessings I've had in this position.

Even though Jameil says folks at bigger schools with better journalism programs aren't always the best writers, I can't help but wonder if I would've had the same opportunities had I taken a more direct path to college at one of the schools I lusted over in high school.

Could I have been a sports writer at the Hampton Script? The Hilltop? The CAU Panther? The Spokesman at Morgan State? The world will never know. I do know that attending DSU, being able to get my foot in the door in April of 2002 on some quickie writing samples and the faith of then-editor-in-chief Marisa Bazemore (nee Phillips), and being given free reign to do sports my way has made me a pretty good journalist and reinforced my passion for a business that I knew virtually nothing about when I enrolled at Del State in the fall of 2001. I knew I loved to write, but as far as AP Style, story structure and all of that, it was like trying to wean R. Kelly off of teenagers; really tough going.

I eventually found my feet and my focus thanks to Marisa and assistant editor Michael Feeney's neverending encouragement and being around USA Today Columnist and Trotter Group founding member DeWayne Wickham at least twice a week for a Media Law and Ethics class. Professor Wickham was the greatest resource as far as knowledge, experience, and success we had at DSU, so it would've been foolish for us not to seek him out, which a lot of folks did, and still do (count me among them).

With that support system in place, I grew as a writer, and last year was probably the greatest year ever as far as covering sports. The football team finished 7-4, and the culture of losing has disappeared under Al Lavan, probably forever.

Of course the men's basketball team's appearance in the NCAA tournament was without question the highlight of my young career so far, and I thank God for those five days in Richmond, VA where the greatest triumph in Hornet athletic history occured. That was like the perfect storm. My car was running right, I was no longer afraid of interviewing Coach Jackson or the players, and it all just fell into place that week. When I get to where I want to be, I'll always remember to thank Coach Jackson, his entire staff, and the 2004-2005 MEAC champions for helping jumpstart my career.

Of course, as a college sports reporter, you need to have a good rapport with the sports information department, who supply you with, well, information. Dennis Jones and Mike Rogers have gone above and beyond to help me with my job, and those two will always be the best Sports Information Department I've worked with, no matter what happens from this point forward. Two guys responsible for all 18 sports on our campus, yet they get their jobs done, smiling, telling stories and joking along the way. I'll always have fond memories of roadtrips with those guys clowning around about stuff I'm STILL sworn to secrecy about, so I'll keep my vow. Maybe in my memoirs a couple of decades from now, they'll let me talk about some stuff.

Of course, this is just my odd, different, heartfelt way of reflecting on the beginning of my journey, and I'm thankful to all of those that helped me along the way. And even though the end is near here at DSU, this is just the beginning of a longer journey, and I'm ready for wherever the trip takes me.

5 Comments:

  • At 3:53 PM, Blogger Duck said…

    You really do have an R. Kelly joke for every occasion, don't you? :-)

    I'm glad you've had such a great start in what you want to do. You may wonder what would've happened had you gone to a different school, but I can say that everything takes place and every decision is made for a reason, which remains a mystery until that "perfect storm" happens. Then it all becomes clear -- this was meant to happen.

     
  • At 3:31 PM, Blogger spchrist said…

    interesting story....the second half of your "real" life begins when you graduate.

     
  • At 3:02 PM, Blogger jameil1922 said…

    oh my goodness. you are such a senior. lolol. reflecting on life is a requirement. the whole where am i? what would life be w/o this, etc. etc. hilarious. i'm w/duck. everything happens for a reason.

     
  • At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Vincent said…

    This can't truly have success, I suppose so.
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  • At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Abel said…

    Very helpful piece of writing, much thanks for this article.
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