Write on Sports Goshen: A Community Effort!
A selection of articles written by camp staff.
The young journalists from Write on Sports were seated in a semicircle as Robby Howard, a sports writer with The Goshen News, began the interview with Gaby Romo, who starred in soccer for Goshen High School and just finished her first season at Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne.
“I like to start with easier questions,” Howard said, addressing the students. “A lot of the time sources may be a little nervous. I want to put them in a position where they are comfortable.”
Howard turned to Romo and asked: “Have you been watching the World Cup games?”
Romo broke into a smile. She disclosed that her favorite teams entering the competition were Mexico and the Netherlands, neither of which advanced to the final match. But the biggest winner may have been soccer in the U.S., she said.
“Compared with earlier World Cups, this year in the United States everyone was watching,” she said. “In 2010 it was hard to find a television set with soccer on. Now it seemed everyone was watching. Soccer is becoming more popular.”
A few minutes into the interview, Howard turned back to the students. “Gaby’s answers are getting longer now, which tells me that she’s getting more comfortable,” he said.
For profile articles, Howard said that he often works chronologically, going back in time. He looked at his prepared list of questions and asked: “How did you get interested in playing soccer?”
Romo, who has four brothers, said that she started playing as a 6-year-old. “I played with guys,” she said. “I was the only girl. They played kind of rough. My brothers said to work hard, run, lift weights, and then maybe I could make the middle school team.”
Howard told the students that at this point he was leaving prepared questions to follow an interesting trail. “What was it like to play with boys?”
“They were way more aggressive,” she said. “I got used to more yelling.”
Romo finished her first season as a midfielder and forward at IPFW. She was a leading offensive threat for the Mastodons, scoring four goals in the Summit League. She is majoring in biology with plans to attend medical school.
Before the interview ended, Romo mentioned that she had traveled to Chicago this year to try out for the U20 Mexico team. She said the competition began with 160 young women, who were funneled down to 80 and then to 30. In the end, officials selected six players who qualified for the reserve team.
“They told us that they would give us a call,” she said. “So now I’m waiting for that call.”
Errick McCollum, a 6’2″ guard who scored more points than any basketball player in Goshen College history and went on to star on European courts, is now playing for a spot in the NBA.
At the invitation of the Denver Nuggets, McCollum is in Las Vegas participating in Summer League competition. Denver is fielding one of 24 teams (out of 30 NBA teams) made up of both signed players and others, like McCollum, who hope to earn a place on the roster for the regular season.
“It’s a great opportunity to play in front of 24 NBA teams,” McCollum said. “There are also a ton of European and Asian teams here. You get to put your name out there.”
At 26, McCollum is the second-oldest player on Denver’s Summer League team. McCollum, who used to dribble a tennis ball when walking across campus and always aimed to be the first player in the gym for practices, demonstrated his work ethic to Write on Sports students on Friday. He woke up around 6 a.m. local time for a video Skype interview with students, who gathered in a classroom at 9 a.m., Goshen time.
McCollum appeared on a large screen in the classroom. In Las Vegas, using his phone, McCollum was able to see students move to the front of the classroom and sit down at a table to ask questions.
When asked how he felt playing abroad, McCollum said that he had never traveled outside of the U.S. until he was invited to play basketball professionally in Israel. “I really loved living in Israel,” he said. “I was able to see a lot of history, like the Western Wall. I tried different foods, saw different people. It felt really special being there. It also makes you appreciate the U.S. when you’re away.”
Most recently, playing for the Greek team Panionios, McCollum led the Greek League’s top division in scoring, averaging 17.7 points a game. He was named the league’s Import Player of the Year. At Goshen College, he scored 2,789 points in his career and was the first Maple Leaf in program history to be named both Mid-Central College Conference Player of the Year and an NAIA First Team All-American.
Another student asked about “The Dunk, “ which came during a Goshen game against Grace in 2010 and was featured on ESPN’s Top 10 highlight reel. “It was kind of surreal,” McCollum said. “When you’re playing for a small college, you’re there to further your education and play basketball because you love it. You don’t expect to end up on SportsCenter.”
McCollum told the students, who are heading into seventh and eighth grades, that he knew when he was in fifth grade that he wanted to study business in college and play basketball. “I had it mapped out,” he said.
After basketball, McCollum envisions himself working in marketing or sales or maybe coaching. “I like to get dressed up in a shirt and tie and deal with the public,” he said.
McCollum’s younger brother C.J., who played for Portland this past season, is on the Trail Blazers’ team at the Summer League. Given the number of teams participating, odds are that they won’t face each other on the court. If they do, they’ll compete but leave the game on the court.
The only time they fought over basketball, Errick said, was when he was in ninth grade and C.J. was in sixth. “We were fouling each other hard, and I tried to bully him,” McCollum said. “My dad came over and said, ‘Your brother is your best friend.’ Ever since that time, we never fought.”
He encouraged students to work hard, listen to their parents and stay humble. “I would like to be a piece to the puzzle on an NBA team,” he said. “The older you get, the more you realize that you are not the puzzle. You’re a piece in the puzzle.”
Angelo Di Carlo, a sports anchor and reporter for WNDU-TV in South Bend, came to the interview dressed for work: a blue, button-down shirt, green tie, blue blazer — and then, below the waist, short pants, white socks and blue canvas shoes.
With that striking image, Di Carlo reminded 20 young journalists from Write on Sports that his work is for the camera, seated behind the anchor desk, in the the WNDU studios — and the shorts and canvas shoes will never make it on TV.
Di Carlo described a job with “a lot of perks” that would be the envy of any sports fan. He’s on the field to cover every Notre Dame home football game, and he interviews players and coaches afterward. He followed the Notre Dame women’s basketball team through Final Four action in Nashville in the spring.
But that opportunity comes at a price. “As much fun as it is to cover sports, sometimes it’s more fun to just watch sports,” he said. “It’s hard work. Except for four or five weekends a year, I’m working every weekend.”
Di Carlo said he became a sports reporter for the love of sports, not the money. He described poring over the sports section in the newspaper when he was growing up in Allentown, Pa., copying and memorizing box scores by the age of 4. If he were working for money, he said, he would have become a lawyer. Instead, he got his first job at TV 2 in Allentown when he was 16 (courtesy of his older brother, Al, who was also a TV reporter).
When asked to name his favorite sports, he said football and baseball (watching in person), football and NCAA basketball tournament (watching on TV) and soccer and baseball (when he himself is playing).
The chief meteorologist for WNDU, Mike Hoffman, entered the room just after a student had asked Di Carlo which word he would use to describe himself. After a pause, Di Carlo suggested “energetic.” Then Hoffman added, “He’s probably the hardest-working and best sportscaster I know.” Without missing a beat, Di Carlo said, “Let’s all make sure to write that in our stories.”
The students also had a chance to tour the WNDU studios, courtesy of Seth Conley, a Goshen College professor who worked for the station part time as a weekend news anchor and continues to fill in as needed. He reminded the students to keep their voices low while visiting the newsroom, where Maureen McFadden, a longtime news anchor, and other staff members were at work on the evening newscast.
Earlier in the day, the Write on Sports campers visited the University of Notre Dame, where they learned about the role of media relations for the university’s 26 athletic varsity programs, toured the football stadium press box and met with Jack Nolan, the longtime “Voice of Notre Dame athletics” and the director of media productions for Fighting Irish Digital Media.
Justin Gillette, a Goshen marathoner, ranks sixth in the world with 77 victories. His best marathon time is 2:25:44.
Even so, as he logs 100 or more training miles a week, he is usually a few steps behind his children — pushing a stroller. His children, Miles, 4, and Jasmine, 1, are along for the ride.
Gillette and Anthony Anderson, the assistant sports editor at The Elkhart Truth, returned to Write on Sports Goshen on Tuesday, once again serving as interview partners. The model interview that opened the session was actually more “real” than “mock” since Anderson said that he intends to publish a spot story on Gillette later in the week.
Anderson said that he was especially interested in Gillette’s quest to climb the list of most marathon victories. Gillette is only two victories away from a tie for fifth place. His personal goal is to reach No. 1, a position now held by Chuck Engle, with 173 victories. “I think I’ll catch him,” said Gillette, whose strategy includes eating oatmeal two hours before every race.
Gillette is still returning to top racing form after a bout with plantar fasciitis that forced him to rest in August and September and again earlier this year. “I’m healthy now,” he said.
Running is a family affair for Gillette and his wife, Melissa, who in May won the Kalamazoo Marathon in three hours, six minutes and 19 seconds. For the past several years, Melissa Gillette was earning a doctorate at Notre Dame, with Justin serving as the primary caregiver and wage earner through his marathons.
That prompted one of the Write on Sports journalists to ask how much he earns as a runner. Gillette said that some races may pay more than $3,000 and others only $500. A good year of running might yield $60,000.
He’s feeling less pressure to earn prize money now that Melissa finished her degree and recently became a director of cancer care at St. Joseph Medical Center in South Bend.
So why keep running? someone asked. “I’ve always wanted to avoid working,” he said, pausing before the smile.