Saturday, October 06, 2007

You think you know, but you have no idea...

Editors’ Note: You may have seen him at your local party cranking it everyday, but this week, Chris was Superman-ing deadlines on a nightly basis. From field hockey to football, our hard-working freelance sportswriter had First State high school sports covered. Here is a running diary of the highlights from his week that was.


2:45 p.m.: After filling up the tank of my trusty 1992 Pontiac Bonneville, cleverly named “Bonnie,” I set out on the road for my first assignment of the day, a girls’ field hockey match between one of the state’s top teams and a team that, well, wasn’t. As I prepared myself mentally on this two-sport/two-paper/two-town doubleheader, several thoughts went through my mind; “What if the field hockey match goes overtime?” “At what angle should I cover a possible beat down?” “Dang, I’m staving.”

3:30 p.m.: Arrived at the field hockey match, introduce myself to both coaches who are glad to see their girls get some coverage. In a state where football, basketball and track and field are king (and queen), some sports get lost in the shuffle, and after covering field hockey twice, I can say it’s a very interesting sport to watch. Just watch out for the stray shots. They can and will sting you up.

3:57 p.m.: Match starts 10 minutes early, much to my liking. I’m looking at my borrowed cell phone and being mindful of the time because of my obligation to my other freelance employer for a boys’soccer match two towns over at 7 p.m. I whistle “I want to thank you,” by Alicia Myers to kinda-sorta ask God to work some chronological favors for me as I settle in and take notes all match long.

5:30 p.m.: Match ended half an hour earlier, so I was able to round up both coaches and get words and stats from them before I had to roll on to my next assignment. Good thing this match was for the weekly paper so I didn’t have to worry about deadline until the next morning. Story still turned out pretty good though.

With the early start and the quick finish, I’m off on my next assignment with about 90 minutes to spare, but not before….

5:50 p.m.: A quick stop at a Wawa convenience store (my East Coast folks know about those) to refuel on Honey Nut Cheerios Milk and Cereal bars and bottled water. As I sit in the parking lot and eat and look over my notes for the boys’ soccer match, I get the sense that this particular game will not be quick and to the point. Oh, how I love when I’m right.

9:45 p.m.: After 80 minutes of regulation and about 16 minutes of overtime, the visiting school pulls ahead on a breakaway goal and holds defensively to keep an unbeaten record. Soccer’s another sport we should give a chance. No, I don’t mean watching Beckham and Posh shop on Rodeo Drive. That night was my first experience with dictating a story over the phone and for those who aren’t familiar with my speaking style it goes like this; fast and low volume. Thank goodness the copy editor who took my dictation was able to work with me. This would come in hand later in the week. So I rode back home, looking forward to a break Wednesday, and having a Hal Sparks “I wanna know what love is” moment when “U Got It Bad” by Usher was blaring from Bonnie’s radio. Don’t laugh. It’ll happen to you, too.


2:30 p.m.: I arrive at my third assignment of the week, another boys’ soccer match between two upstate teams who will more than likely see each other again come tournament time. Too bad no one else was there at first. I sat alone on an unusually warm October Thursday, sweating like Al Reynolds at a bodybuilding competition, wondering if I had some how went to the wrong field. 30 minutes into wondering, both teams, coaches and the officials showed up, and I was spared the embarrassment of heading to the wrong place.

5:45 p.m.: After four goals for the visiting school, none for the home team and several crazy exchanges between the coaches and an obviously worked up referee, the match ended and after words from both coaches and a player who assisted on the visiting school’s first two goals (and got himself a yellow card), I was off to write the story so I could be out to my alma mater’s first ever televised football game at home. For the first time in years, I got to be a fan Thursday night, and as a sports writer, sometimes you need that break in impartiality to let yourself know you’re not a robot. Although I rock that dance pretty well. Ask my folks.


4 p.m.: While getting dressed and loading up the ride for another Friday night under the lights, I received a call from a paper in Southern Maryland, and they will be interviewing your boy via telephone Monday afternoon. Talk about a confidence booster. I’ve only been freelancing for four weeks and I at least got a call back/interview opportunity. I think I’ll nail this one pretty well, it’s a nice paper, community-oriented, which is good for honing one’s skills, so we’ll see how that goes.

6:45 p.m.: Arrived at the same high school that housed an overtime soccer match two nights earlier. These two teams were known for lighting up the scoreboard, and I had a premonition that there would be at least a combined 65 points last night. How would that prediction hold up?

10:15 p.m.: We got 69 points…49 came from the home team. Total domination on both sides of the ball and another night of dictation for me. This time I was much better at relaying my story over the phone and got it in with 15 minutes left before deadline. I did however wonder about a possible quote of interest I left out of the story. The losing coach was not too pleased that the home team still ran plays up 22 points, and a sophomore running back broke free on a 43-yard TD run with five seconds left. The coach said “I guess it was important for them to get 49 points. But what goes around comes around.” Should I have put that in my story? I don’t know. I know a sportswriter can’t be buddy-buddy, but I’m definitely not trying to ruffle any feathers either. But that’s our job, to at least report things from all angles, and I know that now after last night.


7 a.m.: I was in a panic this morning, kids. I checked the online edition of the daily to collect the link for the game story from last night and it just wasn’t there. I was sure I had made deadline, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to dictate the story. Maybe it sucked, so they didn’t run it? Nah, couldn’t be. So I hopped in the car and rode to the nearest 7 Eleven to pick up the print edition. You know, the stuff we used to read before the internet came along.

Sure enough, there it was, leading off the high school football section of the sports page. I smiled and breathed a sigh of relief. 330 miles of driving, nearly 90 dollars spent on gas, 25 spent on food, minimal sleep, and at least 2,000 words typed, the week-long freelance marathon had ended. So what am I going today, you ask? Read the paper of course. There’s this sports writer who I absolutely love reading. He could be going places pretty soon.


Posted by Chris at 8:34 AM | link

Read or Post a Comment

Grind-ing! Yay Chris! You're doing fantastic! And think about it: you're getting calls after one month of freelancing...think about who'll be calling in a few more weeks. Keep Supermanning those deadlines. :-)

Posted by Blogger T Dot @ 11:58 AM, October 09, 2007 #
<< Home

We'd Like to Know...

Our Favorites

Poynter Institute
Media News
Ask the Recruiter
About the Job
On The Media
Columbia Journalism Review
Howard Kurtz's Media Notes
Eric Deggans
E-Media Tidbits