The experiences of rushing the field at the conclusion of a rivalry football game or finishing an and-1 layup to bring my team within two points have certainly been highlights of my seven and a half semesters of being involved in high school athletics. And while tallying the offensive rebounds and tracking shots-on-goal have allowed me to enhance my knowledge of the games of basketball and soccer respectively, one other experience has really been a dream come true.
It was the day of a lake effect snowstorm in Chardon, Ohio, and I watched the snowflakes melt one after another on my window of Notre Dame Cathedral Latin School bus number three. “I like this whole newspaper thing, but no one ever reads it; no one finds it interesting,” I thought. I wanted to use the sports section to teach my classmates lessons bigger and more important than the usual focus on the strategies needed to win our next game. In order for this to hit home, however, I knew that it had to come from a voice stronger than my own. “What if I got Brady Quinn to conduct an interview for me, and I wrote about it in the school paper? Or what if I got interviews with University of Notre Dame football players?” The song One Step at a Time by Jordan Sparks had just finished playing on my iPod, and the bus had just reached Auburn Career Center where I would be picked up.
“Mom, I have an idea!” I exclaimed. “I am going to try and interview Brady Quinn and different Notre Dame Football players for articles in the school newspaper!”
My mom loved the idea but recognized the difficulty in contacting such athletes, especially during the middle of football season. “You can try, but it might be hard. I think it will be awesome if you get just one response.”
Nearly 300 emails, letters, phone calls, and text messages later, I was arranging interviews with legendary coaches and star athletes from both the collegiate and professional levels. University of Tennessee Women’s Basketball Head Coach Pat Summitt agreed to conduct an interview, and would even gather interviews from various team members. Denver Broncos Rookie Safety David Bruton texted me that he would love to — anything he could do to help. Then-Cleveland Indians Infielder Jamey Carroll wanted to help, and then-Cleveland Indians Pitching Coach Carl Willis would arrange a call during their media tour prior to the 2009 season. The Miami Heat Director of Public Relations left a voicemail saying, “Chris Quinn is willing to help you out with an article.” Duke University Point Guard Greg Paulus responded with great interest despite being in the middle of basketball season. The Northern State University Men’s Basketball Head Coach Don Meyer, the winningest NCAA coach, responded by saying he would be happy to help. Baltimore Ravens Safety Tom Zbikowski would eventually call during media day prior to the Ravens’ playoff game against Tennessee. Cleveland Indians Right-handed Pitcher Justin Masterson was excited to share advice with teens. The list grew longer.
Once the nervousness of speaking with professional athletes passed, I would appreciate that this was a dream come true. I was speaking one-on-one with people whom I admired from the upper deck, from the television. After transcribing the interview, I would write an article featuring the unique role model who could now be viewed as not only a good athlete, but a great person as well. Questions were answered about the individuals’ social, spiritual, personal, academic, and athletic lives. Athletes and coaches discussed their own personal experiences in high school and college, and they gave advice regarding their mistakes and successes. The coaches and athletes provided me with exactly what I was looking for.
I was amazed by the responses these articles stirred. My peers were moved by the advice their idols had professed to them. The true simplicity of the players’ and coaches’ messages echoed around the school hallways for weeks following distribution of each month’s newspaper. Students would comment, “That’s awesome that he prays like that before his games.” Another would add, “Now I don’t feel so different for not drinking.”
Although I never received an interview with Brady Quinn, I received more than I could have ever imagined. I gained experience in the real world. I discovered a hidden talent that might one day lead me to a career in sports journalism. Each experience has built upon the next, eventually leading me to the opportunity of blogging for the North Coast Junior Tour website.
It is my hope that I will showcase the many hearts, minds, and talents that make up the North Coast Junior Tour. And throughout the North Coast Junior Tour season, I hope to meet many of the golfers as well as learn more about the game of golf that so many people love.
Finally, any blog suggestions from North Coast Junior Tour followers are appreciated. Please feel free to contact me by phone at (440) 223-7142 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck this upcoming season!