A month to remember

There are a lot of perks to being a student sports writer.

For those who want to continue as journalists when we get out of school, the chance to get to work in a professional setting while we’re still students is something you don’t get to do in other professions.

You get to see what it’s like covering a beat and reporting on a team every day and, as part of those responsibilities, you get to go on trips to cover your team.

Some of those trips don’t mean much outside of the added experience of getting to cover a game in a different venue. I mean, by the time I got back to Morgantown I already wanted to forget that I had just made a trip to Piscataway, N.J. when West Virginia played there against Rutgers in football.

Then there are others, like I had with the Orange Bowl and Big East Conference tournament, which you’ll remember forever. As a student reporter, you get to be at a big venue watching games that everyone is watching with national media members from organizations like ESPN or CBS Sports in the same workroom as you.

It’s a little surreal, I must admit.

But no experience I’ve had in my two years as a college journalist compares to what Adam Stern got to live through last March.

Stern, who is now the Executive Editor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s student newspaper The Commonwealth Times, served as The CT’s Sports Editor a year ago and covered the VCU basketball team.

At the beginning of the month, the Rams were a bubble team and their future of making to the NCAA tournament was in doubt.

They ended up earning a berth in the tournament’s “First Four” as one of the No. 11 seeds. That’s when VCU and head coach Shaka Smart went on a run to the Final Four that college basketball fans across the country will never forget.

And Adam got to be there every step of the way covering it.

“Covering that run last year was nuts. It was certainly the most unique, awesome, unbelievable exhilarating experience of my life,” Stern said. “To go from not even being sure that the squad was going to make the tournament to making the Final Four and obviously capturing the country’s attention in the process was something I’ll never forget.

“I’m definitely thankful that I got to be a part of something like that.”

For the senior journalism major from northern Virginia, it was a chance to get to be a part of something bigger than he had gotten to experience in his short time as a student journalist. He got the opportunity to be on the biggest stage you could be on as a sports writer, and got the chance to be around some of the best in the business and travel all across the country on the road to the Final Four.

The first game was in Dayton, then a few days later they were in Chicago for two games before spending the final two weeks of the tournament in San Antonio and Houston.

“In terms of the strictly journalism side, it was a great learning experience in the amount of travel we went through, all the interviews through press conferences and locker-room access and stories we got to write,” Stern said. “We also got to be around some of the top journalists in the game, which was great to meet some of them. Yahoo!’s Pat Forde bought us a round of beers in San Antonio; that was a pretty cool moment.”

Stern got a taste of the life he wants to live when he gets out of school during that month.

And since then he’s been working at continuing to improve so that he can one day make that dream a reality.

“Getting to live the life the pros live with the traveling certainly whet my appetite for more,” he said. “Just knowing I’ll be able to put this on my resume doesn’t hurt either.

“I was hungry to succeed in the journalism world before VCU’s Final Four run – the run just gave me a great and valuable experience and for that I’m definitely grateful as well as hungry for more.”

During his time as a student media member working for The CT, Stern has gotten a good grasp of what it’s going to take to succeed once he leaves school and is out looking for a job. That knowledge that he’s gained is simple …

“There’s still a lot of desire in the public for good sports journalism – it just has to be done different than ways in the past,” he said. “You have to give the people something extra – the writing has to have more of a cutting edge today – as opposed to just merely relaying what happened like sports journalism in yesteryear.”

Follow Adam and the rest of The Commonwealth Times’ sports staff on Twitter, they do great work and are currently in Portland covering VCU’s game against Indiana Saturday in the third round of the NCAA tournament.

Michael

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2 comments
  1. Experiences like this are what helps you stand out from the slew of sports journalists graduating across the country. When you were rubbing shoulders with professional journalists on the road, were you able to make any connections (like possible job connections)?

  2. erinfitzi said:

    I wonder what other kinds of experiences sports journalists get, maybe college journalists especially. I keep thinking of Penn State because of the closeness between news and football since the Sandusky scandal was warming up toward the end of football season. With all of the rioting from the students and JoePa getting fired, it might not be that sportsy, but since Sandusky was part of the football program, that’s the connection. I also think of you at the DA when Bill Stewart resigned and Holgorsen took over; and also when the Big 12 stuff was about to happen. We got plenty of hits during that time, and you’re kind of an “expert” on it since you covered it!

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