I have a lot of thoughts about graduating, so I figured rambling about the last four years was the best way to get it all out…
It’s easiest to start at the beginning. I committed to Arizona State during May of my senior year and first stepped on campus for my orientation in June. Safe to say I was underwhelmed with the sleepy downtown in which I’d decided to live, but I was there for one reason: Become the next SportsCenter anchor. (That’s changed, by the way. Reporting is too fun.)
As mostly every other wide-eyed freshman, I wanted to get as involved as possible and show how awesome I was at this reporting thing. I’d anchored my high school newscast (shoutout to HBN News), and I ran the sports section of the smallest high school newspaper ever, but I was awesome. I was sure of it.
I regularly watched First Take and listened to Colin Cowherd. *quivers with self-disgust*
(ok, I still tolerate Colin Cowherd, but, you know..)
Anyway, I was lucky enough to know someone at the Cronkite school who’d gone to my high school, so she got me in touch with this guy named Trey Lanthier. This small organization called the Walter Cronkite Sports Network was starting up a volleyball coverage team. Sweet!
And on that volleyball beat, I wrote my first article (which never ran because… well, it was THAT bad. Like DeAndre-Jordan-shooting-free-throws bad). I conducted my first interviews. I learned where on earth the Weatherup Center was, and I made my first on-camera appearance. I felt like I was killing the game.
Guys, look at this first video.
Where in the world was I looking?!
The kicker? I thought I was awesome.
But I kept going, kept doing more, and I started to suck a little less. I started covering the women’s basketball team and learned the great scramble of rewriting your entire story because a blowout turned into a comeback. I covered softball and realized that sometimes, you have to cover something you know nothing about but still come off as informed.
Sophomore year brought more responsibilities. More delegating, more assigning, two littles. That’s when I learned how to handle a mainstream beat and my favorite: college basketball. I learned breaking news doesn’t wait for you to get out of your English class. I learned spring football is really important to people.
Junior year, I decided to have my Russell-Westbrook year for WCSN. I ran the volleyball and men’s basketball coverage teams and stepped into the football beat. That volleyball season remains the most fun I’ve had on a beat for several reasons, including Cane’s, sandwich platters and channelling your inner-animal. ←click that link and watch that video from 1:45… sorry, Cass.
But I juggled a lot that year, and kept saying yes to more, including starting a little podcast called “Catchin’ Zs” that ended up being the most fun I had on a weekly basis for the rest of college. I finally anchored Cronkite Sports Live. I wrote about business and technology, an arena I’ve never felt more confused, and I anchored a structured newscast for the first time.
And even with all that, I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right stuff. My plate was stuffed to the gills, but it was that spring I realized that doing more doesn’t always line up with what I want. Spending hours editing articles, writing quick previews and producing short segments made me better, but it was time to pursue something else. I dealt with confidence issues. I had passed on a few offers to write for bigger sites with more connections and opportunities, but I wanted to explore as many sides of reporting as I could.
That said, I’m forever thankful for my time with WCSN. Like I said, I got a whole lot less crappy at this journalism thing because of the lessons I learned there. I learned all the steps that go into writing an article, or contacting the SID for interviews, or how to handle ethical dilemmas like having a player you cover in one of your classes. I wrote my first longform-ish piece there and conducted my first sit-down interview. It was great, but it was time for a change.
Enter House of Sparky.
I don’t think I could’ve had more fun creating content than I did at House. I travelled and lugged equipment to Los Angeles, Seattle and Eugene. I filmed Pac-12 football in stadiums I had only previously seen on TV. We started one of the only video departments in the SB Nation family, for goodness sake! Nowhere else could I have written about Lil B cursing ASU or done an interview while playing FIFA. It was nice to get feedback from a larger audience, even if it wasn’t the nicest…
I wouldn’t have had as much fun at House if I hadn’t honed my skills at WCSN, and both those experiences led to a fruitful semester in the Phoenix Sports Bureau of Cronkite News. Cutting packages, going to the Final Four, covering spring training, anchoring several different shows- I had fun, even when it was stressful.
In all honesty, I wouldn’t want to be exhausted for any other reason.
Too many people helped me to name them all, but I’ll highlight a few in no particular order:
- Trey Lanthier: Thanks for never pulling punches, even when I was a soft freshman who couldn’t hold his eyelines. You believed in me quicker than anyone else.
- Allyson Cummings: Thanks for getting me in touch with Trey and being my one Vegas-connection while you were at school.
- Kerry Crowley/Mauricio Casillas/Nick Kruger: I low-key looked up to you guys throughout school (and still do). Thanks for the critiques, encouragement and the friendship. Kerry, thanks to you in particular for helping me pick the easiest and most convenient classes possible.
- My various co-anchors: I apologize for all the puns, the dancing and for always talking too fast.
- To all my editors in Cronkite: I breezed through classes because I was involved with WCSN and House. I was super thankful that you guys finally let me know what works and what doesn’t.
- My SKWAD/Best friends: Couldn’t have survived without you. You all made sure I kept my sanity, confidence and fun-loving regardless of how stressed I got.
- Chance the Rapper/Real Friends/Waxahatchee/Hop Along: Thanks for spending the most time in my headphones throughout college.
- To my fam: Y’all are my rock. I look up to you guys every day. Dad, I could not have even attended school without your support. You kept my life focused on school, and I cannot correctly express my appreciation for that. I also cannot articulate how much I still depend on your wisdom every day, even when you aren’t saying a thing.
Alright, enough of that.
Going forward, I have no idea where I’m going. I don’t have a job lined up, but that’s fine. Until then, I’m going to enjoy this time. I finished college — that’s pretty rad. If I believe in God and His plan and all that stuff like I say I do, then I have no reason to stress. I cannot say I had an “unlucky break” because it is all part of His plan. I truly believe that. Even though it’s been pretty tough seeing ESPN layoff some of my favorite reporters, and even though I see people talking about the dying journalism industry, I still need to fight the good fight.
I’ll go with the flow until then, and my roller coaster will keep going up.
Oh, and for comparison’s sake, here’s my reporter reel. I can confidently say I’m much better than I was as a freshman.