Write on Sports camp at Goshen College introduces middle schoolers to journalism

Participants in the Write on Sports camp at Goshen College run a practice lap with Goshen marathoner Justin Gillete. Gillette is ranked fifth in the world in marathon wins. (Photo by Brian Yoder Schlabach)

Ten rising middle schoolers from the Goshen area are blending a love of sports with a love of journalism by participating in Goshen College’s Write on Sports camp from July 8-19, 2013.

>> View a camp photo album

Write on Sports originated in New Jersey in 2005 by Byron Yake, a former national sports editor with the Associated Press and a 1961 Goshen College graduate. The 2013 Goshen camp is the first to take place outside of New Jersey.

“Write on Sports blends sports and writing in such a way that you learn almost unawares because you get caught up in excitement of sports and the interactions between journalists and athletes,” said Goshen College Professor of Communication Duane Stoltzfus, director of the Write on Sports Goshen camp.

The campers can then take the interviewing and writing skills they develop during the camp, Stoltzfus explained, and apply them to other subjects when they return to school in the fall.

Throughout the camp, participants work on spot stories — brief news feature articles that are written in a short period of time — which are then published as posts on the camp blog. In addition to writing three to four blog posts apiece, students each work on a longer feature story, which will be combined into a small book. Each student also has the chance to create a video on a sports-related topic of his or her choosing that will be shown to parents on the final day.

Participants in the Write on Sports camp at Goshen College interview players on the South Bend Silverhawks baseball team before a game. (Photo by Josh Gleason)

A highlight of the camp for many participants was a July 10 field trip to Notre Dame, where they had the chance to tour the digital media suite and the press box and interview two Notre Dame football players, a Notre Dame women’s basketball player and Jack Nolan, a longtime basketball announcer. Campers also got to interview three South Bend Silver Hawks players and a pitching coach and attend a Silver Hawks game.

“One of my favorite parts (of camp) was probably going to Notre Dame,” said Diego Torres, who will be entering seventh grade at Goshen Middle School in the fall. “It was really cool to get to go into the locker room and on the field.”

During the two week camp, participants have the chance to interview a variety of people involved in athletics or journalism, including Anthony Anderson, assistant sports editor at The Elkhart Truth, Justin Gillette, a Goshen College graduate who is ranked fifth in the world in marathon wins; Natalie Newell, softball pitcher for Bethel College who led her team to the national tournament in 2013; Greg Keim, Goshen News sports reporter; and Jason Samuel, general manager of 91.1 FM The Globe.

LiAnna Overman, who will be a seventh grader at Goshen Middle School, said that she “liked getting to interview people because you get to explore your own mind. You can think of questions that you probably never thought of before.”

Stoltzfus plans to hold Write on Sports at Goshen again next year, and he hopes for more campers. “We hope that the campers who are participating this year will be our best ambassadors when talking with their friends about why they too should be interested in joining Write on Sports,” he said.

The camp, made possible through collaboration between Goshen College, Goshen Community Schools and Write on Sports, is tuition free.

–  By Lauren Stoltzfus

View this Goshen Commons video about the 2013 Write on Sports camp: