Written by Cat Hendrick, a member of Alpha Delta Pi.
As an aspiring female sports journalist, I’m often questioned about my choice of career path. Sometimes it’s in the form of a pop quiz on a certain athlete’s background or minute details about a certain event, but more often than not people are genuinely curious about why I’m so passionate about sports.
Was is because I was/am an incredible athlete? Nope. Unfortunately, my athletic career peaked in high school soccer.
Is my family involved in sports media? I wish. It might make this industry a little easier.
Am I trying to get in with the athletes (*wink wink*)? No. Just no.
The truth is that I love sports because aside from religion, there is nothing else on this entire planet that brings people together the way sports do. There is no other business, industry or trade that crosses all the lines that otherwise divide us.
However, within the realm of sports, a UNC fan isn’t likely to get along with a Duke fan. In fact, there’s really only one team that the whole country can agree on: Team USA. It doesn’t matter your political beliefs, economic standing, age, gender or color, when the Olympics come around every few years, the whole nation stands side by side to cheer their countrymen on.
For reasons I cannot possibly begin to fathom, I’ve been given the opportunity to work as a sports journalist for the United States Olympic Committee covering the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. To prepare for this exciting, albeit intimidating job, my partner Emily Giambalvo and I recently traveled to Park City, Utah with our journalism professor Vicki Michaelis for the 2018 Team USA Media Summit.
The four days we were there were some of the most exhausting and exhilarating of my life.
Our goal? To find stories.
Each day was comprised of different “sessions”. We would wake up, dress warm, and hike up to the main hotel for the first session. Most of the sessions that we attended were either press conferences, where a certain type of athlete (i.e. all the alpine skiers) would be up on stage for the media to raise his or her hand and ask a question, or round tables, where each athlete would be sitting at his or her own table and the media could bounce around from one athlete to the next to get the interviews he or she needed.
At the end of each day, we would meet with the USOC and discuss what stories we found and what we want to follow up on. Essentially, the Media Summit was to get the skeleton of the story. Now that we’re home, we do even more research, call Mom, Dad, and Grandma to get all of our sources’ takes on the subject and then the real writing begins! Then once our stories are complete, they’ll be published on TeamUSA.com.
The Media Summit was crucial to my preparation for Korea, but one of my favorite parts about the experience was the opportunity to network to help further my career long after the Closing Ceremony. I was quite literally in a room with some of the most successful sports journalists and outlets in the world. ESPN, Sports Center, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, The New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, CBS, CNN, NBC; you name it, they had someone there! And it wasn’t just print; radio, photography, broadcasting and more were all within a few yards. I was rubbing shoulders with countless people who could be infinitely helpful in my career, and all I had to do was make a good impression and ask for their card.
I guess that’s the take away. When I applied for this job, I was completely confident that it was a waste of time. There was no way they would give it to me. I was one of the youngest, least experienced people out of the applicants and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be a writer! But for some reason, they saw something in me and because of that, a whole world of opportunities has been opened, whether I decide to pursue writing or not.
It doesn’t matter if you know exactly what you want to do with your life right now. But do something. Take a chance on yourself. Apply for internships. Don’t waste your summers. Volunteer around town. Because nowadays, meeting people and getting your hands dirty is just as, if not more important than how you do in your classes.