Saturday, June 10, 2006
When I first became Sports Editor of The Hornet newspaper in 2002, I was a shy, timid, possibly even inadequate reporter, but I was a tremendous writer. Most people don't know the difference between writing and reporting, but there is a huge difference indeed, and I was horrible at interviewing folks. Aside from help from professors and encouragement from my co-workers at the Hornet, there were two people who gradually helped me come out of my shell and make me the solid reporter that I am today; Dennis Jones and Mike Rogers, Sports Information Department extraordinare here at Delaware State University.
As far as professionally, there was no one better at getting the stats to writers in a timely fashion and fetching players and coaches for Post-Game Interviews better than Mike and Dennis. They got along with everybody, so much so that their office sort of became like the barbershop, where you just went to kill time, shoot the breeze and laugh a little. I admired them also because as a two-person department responsible for each and everyone of the 18 sports DSU has to offer, their jobs were difficult and incredibly stressful. Yet they continued to be there when I needed professional and academic advice.
Dennis Jones, A Philadelphia native who grew up in Camden (which to me makes him down by law) has been in the business of sports media for almost 25 years. He's a fountain of great information and advice for anyone trying to get into this business. A funny guy with a lot of widsom and a good heart.
Mike Rogers is closer to my age (he graduated from State in '02), and he's always good for telling it like it is, giving his frank assesment of any sport team's chances on any given day.
I write so glowingly of these guys because during the course of this summer break, they broke the bad news to me that they would not be returning to Delaware State next year, which is my last as Sports Editor. You see, Delaware State is undergoing a transformation.
Some hate it, some love it, most really don't know where they stand. In the quest to make DSU some great, non-black institution, courtesy, the ablility to relate to people in a positive and cheerful manner, and all the other intangibles that make an HBCU an HBCU are pretty much being tossed out of the window. And to me, Dennis and Mike represent what was good about Delaware State faculty, and the current mode of "business first, relationships second" of the new-look Department of Athletics makes the school look bad. That's just the way I see things, and as an up-close observer, what I see is a bunch of crap.
I'll always remember March of 2004, a full six months before I had a car, and I desperately wanted to attend the MEAC basketball tournament, which was in Richmond, VA back then. I took the liberty of securing a hotel room and signing myself up for a press pass, but how in the world was I going to get there? My mother wasn't letting me take her car, and I still was too young (and broke) to rent my own. Just as all hope seemed lost one day, Dennis said "there's no reason for you to go through all that trouble and not have a way. You can ride with us." And that was probably the most fun Spring Break I ever had. Even though we came up short that particular year, them going out of their way so I could have a chance to cover a major event like that will always be appreciated.
Which brings me to my point; Who says the next person in line will be as friendly, affable, and generous as Mike and Dennis have been? If the associate athletic directors are any indication, then this place is really going to hell in a handbasket.
Well, seeing as I have only one semester left on the job anyway, I'm sure I can tough it out until December. Yet, part of me will be empty as I come to Alumni Stadium two hours early for a football game and miss hearing the mixed CD of Heatwave, Stevie Wonder, and the Dazz band while Dennis and Mike are getting prepared for Game Day. Oh well, we'll always have Richmond. Thank you guys for everything, and God Bless. continue...