Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Carissa Gwerder: Sunny San Diego

Day 1, 9/17/10

At the painfully early hour of 6:30 a.m., our entire cross country team was loaded onto the bus to endure the eight hour drive to sunny San Diego for the Aztec Invite.  After a few hours of napping and half paying attention to the Disney movie playing, everyone began to liven up and enjoy the ride.  A quick stop in Yuma for lunch, along with bracelet making and different games to keep us occupied, made for a pleasant rest of the ride.  We arrived at Balboa Park and attempted to loosen up our legs to run the course.  It was refreshing to run and be able to take a breath and actually get some oxygen into our lungs.  By the time everyone was done running and showing off their Frisbee skills-or lack thereof-we all got back onto the bus to head to our hotel.  We went to our rooms, got organized, and then went to dinner as a team to an Italian restaurant, Sardinas.  Mountains of food later, and after the ultimate representation of carbo-loading, everyone was satisfied.  In all it was a busy day, but the team is prepared to compete to the best of their ability tomorrow.  Even though the races are pretty early in the morning, there is no doubt that we will all be ready.

Day 2, 9/18/10    

      Today began with a light breakfast and a quick trip to the course by 7:15 a.m.  The weather was a comfortable temperature and overcast. We all began to warm up and stretch as the nervousness slowly got more intense.  Parents and grandparents of the runners came to show their support, and some even brought their famous snacks, which were more than appreciated by everyone on the team.  The girls race kicked off at 8:45, and most improved on their times set in the past.  The boys team performed to best they could and got great results, a second place finish by just a single point.  Although it was a bit of an unfortunate way to acquire a second place trophy, the team couldn’t help but feel proud and be happy for them.  Once the medals and trophies were distributed, we all trekked down the sidewalk to board the bus yet again, but this time we were on our way to Mission Beach, and the sun came out just in time.  We were all free to soak in the rays and swim in the ocean.  Even though the water was pretty cold, it was still amazing to spend time on the beach.   After everyone relaxed on the beach and roamed the busy streets for lunch, we got on the bus for a long ride to head back to Flagstaff.  Spirits are high and the whole team had a great time in San Diego.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dunn Deal: Postcards from the Battle on the Border

Hey guys I'm back to update y'all on why we've been up to for the past couple days. I missed a day so I thought I would do it all in one update. Friday was more of a relaxed laid back kind of day. We didn't have an all day excursion planned this time.  Some of the guys used this day to recover from the traveling so much the previous two days, and others used the day to get out and see what downtown Calgary had to offer during the day. 
I did a little of both. Gabe and Lu found a mall pretty close to the hotel while walking around. It was a pretty nice sized mall too! Everyone either woke up or returned to the hotel in time for our one hour film and then began getting ready for our game against Calgary. This would be the team we ultimately suffered our first lost to. They were a very tough team that night and played harder than us, but at the end of the night we left smiling because we knew that we would have another opportunity to show them the real us. 
Tonight that was exactly who they got. We came out with fire, intensity, and a chip on out shoulder which propelled us to a 17 point win over the University of Calgary. We were able to come away with the win to redeem ourselves for the performance we had the night prior. 
After the game we stopped at this drive thru place for burgers and shakes. The name of it seems to slip my memory but everything was delicious! There were so many shake flavors I couldn't count, and you were able to mix and match with up to 3! I think the sign said up to 4,500 possible combinations. I think I overheard Mitch saying he got a root beer float flavored shake. We'll have to let him tell y'all how that tasted! 
Tonight was our last night in Calgary so a few of the guys with the exception if myself, Danny, Gabe, and Gaellan went out to the downtown. We have one more game tomorrow at 10 a.m. then we are coming home back to the states! It's around 2:30 a.m. right now and I have a wake up call at 7 a.m. so I think I'm going to end right here. 
I wanted to give a special shootout to the guy who works at the pizza/wing joint around the corner. He always had interesting conversation and made us feel extremely welcome here in Calgary, and I'm speaking on behalf of the entire team! 
Well I gotta be up in a few hours and in the words of Cam Jones "that's tuff." So I'm gonna get some shut eye. Goodnight guys. Until the next update.. Stay tuned!
Michael Dunn joined the Northern Arizona men’s basketball program in 2009 after starring at Chandler High School. He was a three-year letter winner that helped his team beat top-seeded Highland in the 5A State Championships, the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 in  state history. He saw action in seven games for the Lumberjacks in his  first season. 

Mitch Strohman: The Voice in Canada

Day two of NAU Basketball's trip to Calgary for the Battle of the Border involved a two hour bus ride on Canada Route 1 (the Trans-Canada Highway) to Lake Louise and Banff in the very heart of the Canadian Rockies. OK, I know I'm prone to a bit of hyperbole when it comes to the Lumberjacks, but I can say without hesitation, we visited one of the most spectacular places I have ever seen in my entire life.

I could write 10,000 words about how beautiful it was and not come close to capturing it. It's like walking up to Mather Point at the Grand Canyon for the first time; it takes your breath away. And like the Canyon, you're robbed of precious oxygen every single second your eyes are open. My son Zach perhaps said it best: “Dad, I've never seen anything like this before.”

Bears are a deadly serious issue in the Canadian Rockies. Hiking around Lake Louise you find signs warning you about Grizzlies saying you need to hike in “tight” groups no smaller than four. Experienced hikers carry several bottles of Bear Spray, a powerful anti-bear weapon. We ran into a nice local couple wearing jingle bells on the packs. They explained how the bells let bears know you're approaching so you don't surprise them. I was left wondering if they looked at us nutty Arizonans hiking without bear spray or bear bells, like we Arizonans look at city-folk hiking into the Grand Canyon in the summer wearing flip flops or high heels or not wearing hats or carrying water.

I loved watching several Lumberjack players rent canoes (including non-swimmers Gabe Rogers and Julian Olubuyi) and go for a one hour paddle around Lake Louise. One little weight distribution problem could send the Jacks into a lake that is as cold a bucket of ice water.

On to Banff.

It reminds us of any number of beautiful American mountain villages; nestled in a valley surrounded by spectacular, towering mountains. But in Banff's case those mountains are the Canadian Rockies, slight edge to Banff.

Canadian McDonald's and other fast food restaurants here do not offer you “dollar menus” like they do in the States. Instead they offer you “Snack” menus. I also love the north of the border candy. The Nestle' Aero Bar is a favorite. It's like a Crunch Bar with air pockets instead of the Rice Krispies; in this case, less is more! There are some interesting restaurant combos here in Calgary; we were all interested in the pizza-steak and pizza-fried chicken joints we drove by and yes we ate at one downtown (the one with the pizza-chicken).

Calgary is a very culturally diverse city, while we were here, there was a 100-year celebration of Calgary's Chinatown district. There is a lot of French spoken here and when you canvass the city on foot, you hear many languages spoken beside English.

Tourist alert for those suffering from the fear of heights, do not enter!: The Calgary Tower is amazing part of the city's skyline. At 626 feet, it's not the tallest building in the city, but when you pay the $14 and ride the elevator to the top and step out onto the glass-floor observation deck, it sure feels like it's the tallest thing in the city, if not in all of Alberta.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dunn Deal: Postcards from the Battle on the Border

Lumberjack student-athletes in Canada.
Our second day in Canada was a very busy day. It included an early morning with a late night, and a 9 hour excursion throughout the middle of the day. Yesterday everyone was up around 7:45 a.m. to be able to eat the breakfast served in the hotel. Breakfast consisted of a very nice layout of fruit, bacon, sausage, pancakes, breakfast potatoes, and even had a station to make omlets and toast. Needless to say, the breakfast was very good.

After breakfast, we all went back to our room to get ready to travel to Lake Louise in Banff. We loaded the bus and left the hotel at 8:45 a.m. There were many cool things to see during the bus ride. I snapped a picture of the ski jumps used in the 1988 Calgary Olympics. We also stopped at a smaller body of water surrounded by a huge mountain range to take pictures of a preview of Lake Louise.

As we got closer to the lake we were able to see a deer as well as a wolf off to the side of us amongst the trees. We arrived at the lake, and I expected it to be nice, but nice would have been an understatement. This lake was beautiful! The water was a nice blue color and you could see through in some areas. We all stood around and were blown away by how amazing this lake really was.

Then Coach Will (Hensley) decided he wanted to ride a canoe and started a trend. Riding with him was Platt, and Stallon. The guys also filled up two other canoes. In the second one was Austin, Shane, and Julian. With Austin being the outdoorsman that he is it made for a great experience, as well as easier for the other two because he had done something like that before.

The other canoe had Lu, Gabe, and Danny. Now these were the guys that had a tough time! They actually bumped into another canoe before fully taking off from the dock, but they ultimately got the hang of it. The rest of us began walking the trail that wrapped around the lake.  The trail was filled with bugs which made it very clear that it was their trail we were traveling on. Other than that, the trail was nice and gave us a better look at the lake and the snow capped mountains! We thought that we could make it to the end if the trail, that is until it started raining. This made us turn around and quickly return to the hotel there on the lake.

We walked around a little more and took some more pictures while waiting for the other guys. It was very interesting and funny to see a lot of the people pointing and whispering about us trying to figure out who we were! After leaving here we made one more stop in Banff before going to Mickey D's to grab something to eat. Despite the rain at the lake and the hail at the second stop, it was still a fun experience and worthwhile. At this point, it is now around 4 o'clock when we are finally headed back to the hotel. We arrived back at the hotel at 5:30, scheduled to leave for the arena at 6:15 p.m.. Our game against Concordia was to begin at 8 p.m.

Ironically, the head coach of Concordia was the father of former NAU basketball player Steve Sir. Game time finally arrived and we came out with a lot of intensity despite traveling all day for the second day in a row. We played hard all the way through and with pretty good execution of offense and defense. We were able to come away with the win 117-66. So if there's a myth of not being able travel the day of the game and perform well, I think we erased that these past two nights. We arrived back at our hotel around 10:15pm. After a quick shower, Gabe, Lu, Julian, Josh, Gaellan, D. Jones, and I all decided to take a walk around downtown and see what was going on. We quickly found out that there wasn't too much to do late on a Thursday night downtown, so we split up and Gaellan, Gabe, Lu, and I ended at the same pizza parlor that I ate at the night before. Once again there were interesting people just hanging out there again. Maybe that's a normal thing? This time I tried the teryaki wings which were really good. The man who works there, whose names seems to slip my memory right now, showed us great hospitality. Well tomorrow I think all of us are going to get some well needed rest before we do anything! We have a big game against the hometown team Calgary and I think everyone wants to be rested and ready for them! I'll check back in with y'all soon! Until my next update.. Stay tuned!

Michael Dunn joined the Northern Arizona men’s basketball program in 2009 after starring at Chandler High School. He was a three-year letter winner that helped his team beat top-seeded Highland in the 5A State Championships, the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 in state history. He saw action in seven games for the Lumberjacks in his first season.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dunn Deal: Postcards from the Battle on the Border

The ski jumps used during the 1988 Calgary Olympics.
Day 1 in Canada is just about in the books. It was a long day but was fun all the way around. Calgary did not disappoint. We landed in Calgary around 4 o'clock after our flight was delayed from Phoenix. Going through customs in international airports is a whole different experience than I'm sure all of us are used to.
Once we retrieved all of our bags, we loaded the charter bus and got on the road. Our first stop was Harvey's, a fast food restaurant. I can't speak for anyone else, but I ordered the crispy chicken which turned out to be a good choice. This place had a mix of burgers and chicken on their menu with the majority of the guys getting burgers. 
The verdict is still out on them and I'll have to let y'all know how they tasted. But I heard from De Angelo (Jones) that they had an interesting taste, different from that of a burger in the states. After leaving there we headed to the University of Calgary to play our first game. 
We we're matched up against the University of Lethbridge. We didn't actually get to the arena until about one hour prior to tip off, so once again we were stretched for time. Drew (our trainer) did a really good job of taping everyone's ankles in a timely manner. Once 7 o'clock rolled around it was game time. 
Everyone looked really good out on the court. It took us a while to get going, but once we got going there was no looking back. All the guys played hard and we ended up winning the contest 106-72. 
After a quick post game talk with coach we were back on the bus with Subway sandwiches and Gatorades that were in the locker room after our game. This time we were headed to our hotel in downtown Calgary. We arrived here, and saw that our hotel was right across from the Calgary Tower which sort of resembles the Seattle Space Needle. 
We checked in and got settled before we all decided we wanted to experience downtown Calgary first hand. A few of the guys walked off in one direction and others in the opposite just to make sure we covered a lot of ground. I took to the streets with Danny Redmon and Cam Jones. We walked around with no purpose initially until we became hungry. We bumped into a few interesting people and had some funny encounters along the way. I think Danny ended up making one new friend in particular who decided he wanted to tag along for a little while! 
We finally found a small pizza place that was still open and selling pizza by the slice. Cam and I grabbed a slice and we started our return to the hotel. We have a trip planned for tomorrow that we were told is going to be extremely fun. We'll be gone from the hotel from 9 a.m. to about 4 p.m. then play our game at 8 p.m. The first day in Canada was a success and it's only the beginning... Until the next update.. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Trip Off to Late Start

As I was lying here on the sky harbor airport floor, I thought that I would update everyone on our status.. Right now as I speak we are all sitting/laying here due to a delayed flight. Our original flight time was 10:17 a.m. and now it was pushed back to 11:55 a.m. This all after a early morning with all of us arriving at the airport around 8 o'clock this morning.

The majority of the team spent the night spread out around the Phoenix area in Scottsdale, Tempe and Chandler. Luis, Shane, and I had people stay over at our homes for the night so we didn't have to travel the day of. We were scheduled to arrive in Calgary around 3 o'clock local time to then proceed to the hotel and begin taping for our game later tonight. By the looks if things now, it seems that we will be heading straight to the arena from the airport with no stop at the hotel because of the lack of time.

We play one game tonight at 7 p.m. Calgary time which is one hour difference from Flagstaff time. Everybody is excited and ready to get to Canada and get the games started. At this point we are all just Relaxing and waiting for our plane to arrive. Right now, Gaellan, Lu (Flores) and Gabe are watching a movie, and just about everyone else is taking a pre-flight nap! I may have to join the guys who are napping!

We just received word that our plane will be pulling into the gate in about ten minutes so we may not be stuck here too long after all. For up to the minute updates between blogs on what we are doing check mine and some of the other guys twitter pages with the hashtag #borderbattle. I'm also going to try to get some pics up for y'all of places we go and just of some of the guys hanging out. Until the next update... Stay tuned. 

Follow Mike on Twitter.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Dunn Deal: Postcards from the Battle on the Border


My name is Mike Dunn and I am apart of the men's basketball team here at NAU. This upcoming year will be my second year as a member of the team, and I am really excited and looking forward to the upcoming season. As some of you may know we, the men's basketball team, are traveling to Calgary, Canada to participate in the "Battle at the Border."

This trip consists of a 5-day trip with games each day against Canadian universities. I was presented with the opportunity to keep everyone updated on our preparation and the trip itself.

As of right now we are still in Flag preparing with 2-a-day practices which began July 31st over at Coconino HS. There are a couple new faces, so at this point we are just trying to gel as a team making sure everything runs smoothly for when we arrive in Canada.

Practices have been going really well and the entire team has been working extremely hard. We have a few more practices to squeeze in some things that we will need to know to compete up north. We board the plane to Calgary Wednesday morning at 8 am. I'll be sure to keep y'all updated with daily blogs once we arrive as well as on my Twitter page. It's gonna be a fun and interesting experience for all of us. Until my next update, stay tuned..


Michael Dunn joined the Northern Arizona men’s basketball program in 2009 after starring at Chandler High School. He was a three-year letter winner that helped his team beat top-seeded Highland in the 5A State Championships, the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 in state history. He saw action in seven games for the Lumberjacks in his first season.

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup: It's Finally Here!

By Andre Luciano, Northern Arizona Soccer Head Coach

Here we go again. The 2010 World Cup has officially kicked off today and the “world’s game” is once again in the spotlight here in the United States.

This time around the drama surrounding this World Cup goes a little deeper. There is a political and social message behind every game in South Africa that makes this tournament different. To imagine that until 1992 FIFA had banned South Africa from competing in international events due to its policy of Apartheid, to where the country is now; hosting the first World Cup in the African continent, it is pretty astounding.

It’s a time for the continent to showcase itself on the world stage, hosting the biggest event in sports. South Africa 2010 will open the window of Africa to the world. Let us not forget what Africa has faced in the last five centuries. It is a continent that has been exploited for its resources, has been devastated internally by despotic rulers, and ignored by the West. in so many ways. Now, Mandiba’s dream, to put South Africa on the world’s spotlight, and showcasing itself with billions of spectators watching has been realized.

Yes the Olympics are a grand event, but the World Cup takes special meaning to the other 97 percent of the world population outside of our borders. It is an event where the hope of a nation can rest on the shoulders of a single player wearing the 10 or 9 jersey.

What the casual American fan does not understand is the way people’s lives are affected by this simple game. For the average fan, that lives in a developing country, where political, economic, and social freedoms are not a given, the game is a way for them to be released from their troubles for 90 minutes. It is their escape. And once every four years, they get that escape, if their country is lucky enough to be one of the 32 nations being represented in the World Cup for a month. What other sport can boast of celebrations across a whole country after a win, and suicides after a loss? It is the World Sport. You can have the Super Bowl and call the winners of the World Series the World Champions (Which doesn’t make sense since the Blue Jays are the only international team in MLB), but you can’t compare the World Cup and what it represents.

There comes a sense of national pride from being successful in the World Cup. Only seven teams have ever won a World Cup and four of those teams have won it multiple times. So it is an elite club of winners and that pride carries a lot of weight behind it.

Take England for example. They invented the game, but have only won it once when they hosted in 1966. However, the English walk around as is they are the greatest football nation in the world. Rubbish I say. When they claim their 5th World Cup, then they will have some validity to their pompousness. As the saying goes “you might have invented the game, but the Brazilians have perfected it”. Can you imagine the Washington Bullets fans walking around like that in the NBA circle? Absolutely not!

Therefore, on Saturday, at 11:30 AM I pray that the USA has the ability to come out and compete against a very good English side. England has one of the top goal scorers in the world in Wayne Rooney, and a very good supporting cast that can get him the ball in front of goal. They play in one of the top leagues in the world, while we barely put together a team that has a starting 11 that plays in major international domestic leagues.

On the other hand we have unproven players that have fight and grit, but the patience and thought process of an eager puppy trying to please their master. We do possess one of the world’s greatest goalkeepers in Tim Howard, but a back line that is as organized as an etch-a-sketch held by a five year old, will surely keep him busy.

England’s arrogance on the pitch might be their downfall however. It is the way that they look at the USA in terms of football, with pure disdain.

In the 1950 World Cup we faced England in Brazil. The mighty Three Lions were heavily favored in that game. It was a lopsided game statistically in favor of England, but this is the cruelest of games, where luck does play an incredible part in the outcome of the game. The U.S. shocked the world winning 1-0.

Can the same magic come about in this year’s World Cup? We have a knack for making amends after dismal World Cup showings such as our 3-2 victory Portugal’s Golden Generation in 2001 after the disaster of 1998 proved and 2006 was an embarrassment for the USA (I nearly lost my lunch after the Czech Republic game), so we have to do something positive this Cup.

For those of you that continue to say that it’s a boring game because no one scores do this: Multiple every goal by seven and add three to every ball that is shot over the crossbar. And whatever you do, do not watch Bend It Like Beckham before the World Cup starts. It will destroy any chance of you ever enjoying the beautiful game.

Andre Luciano enters his 10th year as Northern Arizona University head women’s soccer coach after claiming back-to-back Big Sky Tournament Championships and leading his squad to two consecutive NCAA College Cup appearances. Luciano possesses a wealth of coaching experience from the intercollegiate level to club soccer coupled with a successful collegiate career at Indiana University that resulted in two conference championships and a NCAA Final Four appearance.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dual Roles for Basketball's Jenna Galloway

What is an athlete’s take on the media? What is the media’s take on an athlete? The answers help to explain the relationship between reporter and athlete and the public’s perception of each group. One student-athlete at Northern Arizona University provides a unique perspective when describing the connection between reporter and athlete, media and sport.

Jenna Galloway doubles as a starting forward on the NAU women’s basketball team and reporter covering NAU sports for the Lumberjack student newspaper. She recently offered some insight and opinions concerning media and sport.

Jenna as student-athlete…
One interesting observation I have made being a student-athlete who understands the media side of sports, is that things become problematic when you feel some players do not get credit for things they should. From my experience, players that score the most receive the most attention regardless of how those points are accumulated. If someone scores 30 points but they are 8-of-25 from the field that is not really the best night. The points look good sure, but it isn’t an efficient performance that helps the team. Another player who is 5-of-7 with 10 rebounds puts up a solid double-double, but does not get mentioned because the leading scorer had 20 more points. As a player you understand why this is the way it is, but reporters sometimes do not realize a 30-point performance is just that and maybe someone else influenced the outcome of the game more. Sometimes I feel athletes get upset when they don’t get the rightful recognition they deserve. Athletes put a lot of emphasis on the media and whether or not they are getting print, but at the same time as an athlete you do not play the game to be recognized by the paper. You play because you love it and to improve yourself as a person and player. Being an athlete and dealing with the media aspect of sports can be difficult to navigate through when you are trying to do things the right way and reporters do not effectively describe what happened. It can give the public the wrong idea.

There are a lot of things that go on behind the scenes. For instance, if a pass gets deflected or a player causes someone to turn the ball over yet someone else gets the steal, those plays are not reflected in a box score. Knowing the media side of it, I understand why reporters don’t acknowledge those plays but actually they are very important throughout the course of a game. Those types of plays are not in any statistical category. It is very difficult for reporters to measure the hustle side of the game and be able to back up an argument without statistical information. I think basketball is far too reliant of statistics especially when trying to understand the game and how a particular team was able to beat another. Also, in an editorializing type way, statements like “they put in a great effort” recognize certain intangible aspects, but maybe instead of those cliché sports phrases, the media should work harder on underlying storylines such as changes in momentum, game flow, and things like that.

Overall, the media does a pretty good job of covering what needs to be covered; however, at the same time, being a women’s basketball player you feel you do not get as much coverage as a men’s sport. I struggle with that sometimes, but I understand why women’s sports do not receive the attention of men’s sports. The public wants to read what is interesting and sometimes it is not interesting reading about a women’s basketball player as opposed to a men’s basketball player. Women’s sports are not as exciting sometimes as the men’s sports and that contributes to their lack of support which relates to a lack of coverage. I enjoy watching the women at the big conferences like the SEC and Big Ten. These players are very skilled, fast and score a lot of points. I enjoy watching the men because even if they are not the best teams, it is a faster game which makes it that much more exciting. They are more athletic and have different skill sets. There are some women now that are bringing that aspect to the game, but normally the women’s game is much more controlled in the half court. Women have to rely on their fundamentals which makes it a more strategic thinking-type game, but most people are not interested in those aspects. They want to be entertained and that is what the men’s games can provide. As a female athlete, you feel kind of left out, but that is part of the reality of college sports and how the media reports. You just have to deal with it and enjoy your time as a student-athlete regardless of your relationship with the media.

Jenna as reporter…
It is really important to know what you are covering and immerse yourself in that particular sport. The biggest fault of the media is not being prepared, not knowing players, and not really thinking about what questions to ask or the direction to go with your story. It is important to do research beforehand. I knew I did not know volleyball that well so I really tried to pay attention at games and pick up as much as I could. I asked questions of people I knew who had played volleyball and had an understanding of the sport so I would be prepared to ask educated questions when interviewing the players and coach. Being an athlete I have experience with media who are unprepared and it is difficult to open up to those individuals when you are not sure where they are coming from and what angle they might pursue. In order to have that legitimacy as a reporter and develop a rapport or relationship with an athlete during the interview process, it is necessary to be able to articulate what you saw with the proper terminology.

In the fall I really learned how to interview people. I learned how to balance writing for the Lumberjack and writing for class. I learned how to ask the right questions to get the answers and quotes that makes a story complete. Getting that experience with volleyball helped this spring covering golf and the spring football game. It helped me calm down too so I wouldn’t be speaking really fast or not breathing necessarily! I know Coach Choate (volleyball) and Coach Bedortha (golf) pretty well so that has helped as well. Being a reporter can be very rewarding and fulfilling when you do establish those relationships and the question and answer process turns into more of a discussion. Sometimes you can get the best quotes and information through dialogue that takes you past clichés. What really helped me was relying on what I knew as an athlete.

At first I struggled with knowing exactly what the ask Coach Choate, Coach Bedortha and the players because I didn’t want to offend anybody. I know what it feels like to be on a young team that is struggling to find its identity. I didn’t know how to write certain things because I did not want them to think I was negative reporting. I tried to stick to the facts but worked to point out how they may have lost matches based on circumstances out of their control. I tried to find positives saying “They may have lost, but they did this really well.” I think my biggest asset was being able to relate to the players so in that sense even if I didn’t know what to ask, I knew what not to ask. I know what sets coaches and athletes off so I knew what to stay away from. As a member of the media, I had to recognize how different players and coaches can be in terms of their thoughts, feelings, and emotions after certain matches. Reporters really have to be aware of things like that. I think a lot of the problems between media and athletes relates to one group not really understanding the motives of the other. As a reporter, I want to get the facts and write a compelling and honest story, but athletes are worried about how they might be portrayed which is why they are so guarded sometimes.

Once I started getting comfortable covering volleyball and golf, learning the player’s abilities and tendencies, I was able to approach them with more confidence and that really helped. One of the things I struggled with at first during volleyball season was asking questions I had written out beforehand, but I did not listen to their answers as much as I should have. I started to not bring my notebook, and instead watched the match, jotted down a few notes or important things I saw, but relied more on their answers in the interview process to formulate my next questions. I paid more attention to noticing what went on a point-by-point basis, recognizing the flow of the match, and watching the player’s reactions. That would help me decide who I was going to interview and basically where my story was going to go. I think media in general could function and service the public better if they really tried to become students of the game. If a reporter puts in the work to learn what the coaching staff is trying to do in a particular game or match or understand the skill sets of certain players on the team, that preparation beforehand will be reflected in the writing. I think you will see more accurate articles and stories relating to what is actually going on in-game and more interesting quotes from players and coaches who trust you to present fair assessments even if they are critical.