I saw Jay Bilas

Honestly, that’s all you need to know. Jay Bilas was two feet away from me. Hell hath no fury like Caitlyn Stroh knowing she could’ve met Jay Bilas had her train not been stuck for 20 minutes between two subway stops.

I’m ranting. Let’s quickly talk about real things. This week I started to actually get to do a lot of things. I got to cover the NBA draft. Of course, it was an incredible experience, but I will be the first to tell you that it was a really long night (very much how I imagine non-baseball fans feel about baseball games). And a diet coke at Barclays is like $8.50. Nevertheless, it was amazing to be there for the trades, the fashion and the excitement of 30 guys starting the NBA careers. The day before the draft was pretty much taken up by media day and this PR event at a local school and a group of the draftees.

Outside of draft madness, it was a solid week. I interviewed Andre Iguodala, worked on my Conner Stroud article and started working with SI Edge on stuff for the Tour de France ( 😀 ). We close the August magazine here soon so things will probably get busy this week before the Fourth of July. On Friday, the interns had lunch with SI’s managing editor, Chris Stone. He’s a cool guy and it was great to hear from someone so high up in the business.

Overall, I’m still learning a lot every day. I’m more or less getting the hang of what goes on in and around the office (heavier on the less). Except I did burn popcorn the other day. That was embarrassing. I love the people I work with and will be really sad to leave them come August 1.


P.S. If you can get your hands on a copy of the Spur commemorative SI mag, my name is under “Special Contributors.” WOO!


Stroh takes Sports Illustrated Kids

(Sorry for arriving a little late to the blog party, everybody. I’ll start at the beginning and try to include the all of the good stuff.)

I found out on Cinco de Mayo that I’d be heading up to the Big Apple to work at Sports Illustrated Kids for the summer. I honestly did not ask many questions– I knew my pay and my start/end date– because, quite frankly, I didn’t care. I had a paid internship with company of my dreams as a sophomore in college. Are you going to be the one to ask (or care) what you will be doing day-to-day?

Flash forward to my first day of work. SI, SI.com and SI Kids are on the 31st and 32nd floor of the Time-Life building on the Avenue of the Americas. My cubicle–shared with Scott from Cornell– is in the very middle of the 31st floor. So while I get to tell people I work in this really cool location, I sometimes forget how amazing it is because the closest window is through our managing editor’s office (and I still have yet to go into his office). Our first two days of work were pretty slow. If you follow UGA sports at all, you probably saw that Marc Weiszer tweeted out a picture of Todd Gurley in the “Art Gallery” section of SI Kids. Well, on day 2 of my internship the interns opened about 500 letters sent in for the “Art Gallery.” My personal favorite, which actually hangs on my cubicle wall, was a pencil drawing of Evan Longoria. Go Rays.

I promise things picked up. On my third day, I got set up for an interview with Tim Howard. At the time, this soccer-inept individual had no idea what that really meant. Four hours of Google later and I was really excited.

Since that first week, I have worked with editorial staff on our college football preview edition of the magazine, which will close in early July and hit the stand/people’s mailboxes in August. I have an unhealthy belief in MIchigan State, so be on the lookout for the Spartans in our August mag 🙂 Currently I’m working on a graphic-focused page about ceremonial first pitches. Other than CFB, several interns were pulled in to help with a huge SI.com project (you should know on Tuesday!). My boss, Elizabeth McGarr, and the other SI Kids editors were in command for SI’s Spurs commemorative, which was really cool to see from beginning to close. Fact checking is all day, every day. If you want to know what a red check is, I’ll be glad to go into the nitty gritty details of this part of my job.

So, if you don’t know this, SI Kids is a monthly magazine, geared towards kids ages 7-15. What does this mean? We have a month to turn out content. But, we have a very small staff that creates, produces, edits and checks every single thing. Also, any idea you have, you instantly have to ask yourself if a kid would be interested or even know what you are talking about. It can get a little tricky.

While every day presents new tasks and responsibilities, this has been such a great opportunity because I’ve learned so much, even in just the first three weeks. For one, you can never fact check too much. Two: know what sports you are best in, but never turn down an opportunity to cover an athlete or subject in another. I mean, I’m going to the NBA draft on Thursday and I openly admit how little I know about the NBA (but we all know who is going to be on Google until she knows everything about Joel Embiid’s foot injury, Doug McDermott’s HORSE contest with 99 people and what exactly the Cavs are looking for). I’ve been surprised how different this job is from what I expected. But I would probably say the same if I were working at the monthly or with the dot com guys. Overall, I really do think this summer will be what I make it.

As cheesy as that sounds.

USA Gymnastics: Week 2

IMG_3916Busy is an understatement for how my week was. I haven’t just been busy. I’ve been swamped — overloaded in press releases, proofing, and preparations for tomorrow’s Olympic Day celebrations. The week is mainly one blur and the weekends a time to relax and really explore all Indianapolis has to offer.

This weekend is the rhythmic gymnastics national qualifier, which is the final competition for the U.S.’s rhythmic gymnasts to qualify to the USA Gymnastics Championships in Louisville in mid-July. To prep for that, I wrote three releases — the field of competitors release to say who all was competing, a skeleton for the halfway point in the competition and the results release to say who qualified to nationals. With the field of competitors, I learned a very cool trick in Excel that automatically formats the competitors information into the style we use in the releases (Elizabeth Grimsley, Decatur, Ga./Atlanta Gymnastics Center), so inputting 126 competitors was a breeze.

Now that I think about it, this week was all about rhythmic, trampoline and tumbling and Olympic day. I also wrote releases on the recent international success some of the rhythmic national team members have had, the T&T scholarships that were announced at the Elite Challenge and a preview for Olympic Day as well as a skeleton to use after the new cartwheel world record is set if everything goes well. I also wrote up a short release on the Gymnastics For All nationals that are happening this weekend in Orlando, Fla. If I can’t call myself an expert at writing press releases by the end of this summer, something will have gone terribly wrong. I am still trying to get used to the “no fluff” approach.

Of course, with an internship comes typical intern duties such as fact-checking the FIG archives to make sure the former and current U.S. representative’s information is correct as well as more scanning of pictures and sitting in on meetings. There’s also been a lot of proofing, which I actually enjoy. Call me crazy.

It hasn’t all been releases and busy work though. I got to think of a hashtag for Olympic Day and might even get to Storify the World Record attempt from the office tomorrow. Storify is something my boss has never used or even heard of, so I’m excited to show her how cool and effective it is.

IMG_3747On Thursday, I got out of the office for lunch with two of the girls in the office. One of them works with Steve Penny and the other works in the women’s program. She’s basically the Hagrid of the office — the keeper of keys/secrets with the women’s program. I enjoyed hearing about what some of the other jobs are like there and not just those in the communications department. I also though it was funny that they thought it was so hot and humid outside when it was only in the mid-80s. Normally I’m the one saying how hot it is, but this is nothing compared to Georgia. The fact that it can rain at any moment is more like home though. I swear it can be sunny one moment and then downpour the next. It did cause some amazing sunsets though.

IMG_3679That’s pretty much been it so far. On tap is a feature (yay journalism!) I’m doing on Youth Olympic Games qualifier Laura Zeng as well as some more work with the International Triathlon Union and their 25th anniversary project. As always, check out my personal account of the last week, including my time at the NCAA Hall of Champions, visit to the Ansel Adams exhibit at the Eiteljorg Museum and the Indianapolis Indians baseball game from last Sunday.

MASNsports.com: Kickin’ it in Baltimore for the summer

BALTIMORE—What to say, what to say.

Well, first let me introduce myself. My name is Connor Smolensky and I will be a senior when I return to Georgia in August. It’s actually kind of scary to think about how fast it’s gone, but I’ll save that conversation for another post, probably not on this blog.

So let me get back to you on that one.

I’m an intern for MASNsports.com this summer, which is a media outlet that covers both the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals. The office is located in the warehouse in front of Camden Yards, which isn’t too shabby. But let me tell you, this internship has been completely different than anything I have done before.

For the past three years at UGA I have been strictly a writer. I’ve covered everything from men’s golf to football, and writing was pretty much all I knew. I have done some editing, but producing articles is where I’ve felt comfortable. This summer has changed that.

I’ve been on the job for a little over a month now, and the first week was quite the shock. On the first day the managing editor had me sit by his side and assist him with his editorial duties. That’s something I was used to and it didn’t go poorly. The second day—well, that’s a different story. I was introduced to Final Cut Pro once again, which is not something I was excited about. I had worked with the editing system a couple times with Professor Michaelis and Suggs, but it was never something I really gave much thought to.

In this day in journalism, it’s so important—as we’ve all been told a million times— to be more than just a writer. That’s what this internship has helped me become. I’m only a month in, but I’ve already become a journalist with much broader skills than just producing articles.

The way the internship has been going thus far is I’m either placed on a multimedia, social media or editorial shift. I have done more multimedia and social media than editorial, but I will get the full bag of tricks as I get deeper into my experience.

With multimedia, I am responsible for coming in an hour before the games start, and recording video of the pregame show via Final Cut Pro. From there I must edit the video, add B-roll, graphics and pictures before uploading it. I must then add titles to the videos before publishing them on the website for everyone to see. I struggled with these tasks for about a week, but am grateful for the mistakes.

Next is social media. For this shift I must be in the office three hours before the game, and it is up to my discretion how I want to go about my time. I am responsible for setting up a Facebook check everyday for fans to contribute their thoughts during the game, and then once the game begins I must run both Facebook and twitter from the MASN accounts. I’ve tried to make the most of it by incorporating pictures from batting practice, in-game photos, vines and the whole shebang.

It’s been a different summer for me like I’ve said before, but I still get opportunities to write every now and then. It’s something different everyday, and it’s been a nice change of pace. As I continue to become more familiar with my bosses, I will push for more responsibilities—and trust me I already have— because a wise professor once told me make the most of the internship.

I know I skipped out on editorial, but that’s pretty self-explanatory. Till another day Grady Sports.

View from Camden Yards' field.

View from Camden Yards’ field.

Baseball nights with MLB.com

Summer just wouldn’t be summer without baseball.

I suppose I should be introducing myself. For those of you who don’t know me — at least a few, I’d imagine — my name is Alec Shirkey. I’m not a Grady student. In fact, I didn’t even seriously consider a career in sports journalism until about mid-way through my junior year. Less than two years later, I’m helping cover the Cleveland Indians for MLB.com before I return to Athens for a final semester of college. Funny how these things work out.

Putting my backstory on the back burner, I’ll get to the real reason you’re reading this: learning more about this “internship.” Firstly, they don’t call you an intern. You’re an “associate reporter.” They don’t baby you like an intern, either, which for me was one of the program’s main selling points. Sure, I was eased into the role — they definitely didn’t have me writing everything on day one. But once you get the hang of how things work, you have a decent amount of freedom and the experience largely becomes what you make it.

“Why Cleveland?” you surely ask. It was one of my top three choices for cities when I applied, because most of my family actually lives in Ohio (cue the carpetbagger jokes) and I was already somewhat familiar with the team and its history. MLB.com assigns one associate to each of the 30 teams around the country, meaning that if you want and if you meet the criteria, this program can be your ticket to just about every major city in the U.S. Also: the position, while paid, does not include housing costs. So would you rather pay rent in downtown Cleveland or downtown New York? That obviously factored into my decision.

Even with the family ties to northeast Ohio, I’d hardly been to downtown Cleveland before this summer. But for what it’s worth, I think the city gets a bad rep — they’ve got parks, some solid night-life spots to explore and good Italian food. That’s all I really need. Oh, and the Johnny Football circus is in town now, too.

A typical day depends on whether the team is at home or away, because you don’t travel with your club. At home, say for a 7 p.m. first pitch, I’ll get to the ball park between 2:30 and 3:00. The clubhouse usually opens around 3:15, and you’re free to roam about and interview whatever players happen to be there. So, take the other day for example, I talked to the team’s pitching coach about Corey Kluber and wrote about how (and why) he’s been killing it on the mound this year. And then maybe an injured Nick Swisher shows up and he’s asked about how his recovery is going. That’s followed by a media briefing with Francona. All of that stuff will go into your daily notebook.

After that’s written up, I take maybe 20 minutes to grab dinner from the press dining hall, and go cover the game. You file a running gamer, and then an updated gamer with postgame quotes, added context, etc. So it’s a busy day, for sure, but also a rewarding one when it’s over. Usually I’ll be done around midnight for late games, though there was one time involving a 2-hour rain delay, a 12-inning ball game and me getting home around 3 a.m.

Your day also hinges on whether other MLB.com writers are there. Sometimes, the visiting team’s writer won’t make the trip, meaning the associate reporter covers that team. I haven’t had that happen yet, but I know it will before my summer wraps up. Maybe I’ll cover the Royals, or maybe I’ll cover the Yankees (!). Other days, the Indians beat writer might have off, and so I’d cover the Tribe that day. So far, I’ve been splitting the workload with my resident beat writer / boss-man to varying degrees, but it usually pans out that I take care of the notebook and the preview and help with the game story in one way or another.

Now if the team is away, you’re obviously not working at the stadium, and you’re usually only responsible for writing game previews — either for the team you cover, other teams around the league or a combination. They take a little time to compile and can be logistical burdens, but you also learn plenty about other teams you might not have otherwise
known, which can come in handy if you’re covering a visiting team, I’d imagine. Beyond that, I’ll usually watch the Indians game if they play that day and keep up with whatever articles are being written about the team.

That’s the basic rundown. I have plenty of stories re: the day-to-day experience I didn’t include but could have (and some that are probably best left out anyways), but suffice it to say I’ve had a great time in Cleveland four weeks into my summer gig. The work atmostphere is fun — I’ve enjoyed meeting the other media members and folks employed by the team — and the job is an opportunity I really am grateful for. After all, I’m still fairly new to all of this.

Update to come, I’m sure.

USA Gymnastics: Week 1

IMG_3588With no two days exactly the same, it’s been a hectic first week to say the least. Life on the other side of the field, as I like to call it, is different. The verdict is still out on whether or not I’m a fan of media relations, but that’s the point of this summer. I do have to say I miss the journalism side of things. Sure, I’ll be doing a feature here and there, but my life is now being consumed by press releases, media outreaches and media advisories. I’m promoting a sport now rather than covering it, and that’s definitely new for me. It’s difficult to turn my “unbiased training” off and allow a little bit of promotion and fandom start to leak in.

Anyway, down to what all I’ve been doing. To tell you the truth, so far it’s been a little bit of everything. I wrote an obituary for my first assignment on the job. I rewrote someone else’s press release about Olympic champion Gabby Douglas getting a wax figure made of herself. I covered a trampoline and tumbling event remotely and filed press releases about the competition even though I was on the other side of the country. Plus, I did all of that stereotypical intern stuff such as scan hundreds of old film slides, proof releases and stories and transcribe off of a video.

Non-writing related, I did my first media outreach where I basically acted as the equivalent of an SID and set up an interview with a journalist and an athlete. This coming week I’ll also be writing a media advisory for a “celebrity” site visit event in Louisville as well as writing the skeletons for press releases for the rhythmic gymnastics national qualifier next weekend so that they are ready to finalize and send out to the media as soon as the results are in after the competition.

So far, I wouldn’t call the work fun. However, it’s not uninteresting either. The main different
between what I know about journalism jobs and media relation IMG_3577gigs is that so far my environment has been a plain grey cubicle for eight hours each day. I did get to go out on a bit of a field trip with the USA Track & Field interns to see the Indy Eleven office, which is the city’s North American Soccer League team. Since the team’s only been around for less than a year, it was cool to hear about how the program was built from the group up and how the people there are continuing to promote the team.

On a non-work related note, Indianapolis is truely a sports city. My room is literally across
the street from Lucas Oil Stadium where the Colts play and I park next to the Bankers Life Fieldhouse where the
Pacers and Fever play. I’m also planning on going to an Indianapolis Indian’s game against the Gwinnett Braves Sunday. A little taste of home up here in the north should be a comfort.

I’m sure things will pick up even more, but I’ll try my best to write all about it. I’m even going to get to go to an event in Louisville in mid-July. As always, feel free to check out my personal account of my experience here.

MLB.com: Taking on the Marlins, part 1

This is my view from the press box at Marlins Park. I'm still working on my photography skills.

This is my view from the press box at Marlins Park. I’m still working on my photography skills.

MIAMI — Hello there. My name is Maria Torres and I graduated from UGA about a month ago. Three weeks after that, I started an internship as a Marlins reporter for MLB.com.

I’ve wanted to be a baseball writer for a long time. Well. At least since I got to college. So getting this associate reporter position (not intern, by the way) with MLB.com was a dream come true. I didn’t actually believe it was real until I walked into the media entrance at Marlins Park on my first day and got a credential with my name on it. Even though I got the news in January and had to fill out paperwork and do conference calls before starting, I was almost expecting someone to tell me that it was all a hoax and there was actually no such thing as an internship at MLB.com. (Funny thing — when I did get the call, I asked the hiring editor if it was real and he just laughed and asked me if I was paranoid. So, yes, Bill. I was.)

Let me be the first to tell you this internship isn’t typical. I’m writing/reporting/watching baseball for about 10 hours a day every day, even when my team isn’t in town. (Don’t worry, though. There are off days.)

It’s a lot of work. This past weekend, I spent a lifetime covering rounds 3-40 of the First-Year Player Draft and writing blurbs about every player the Marlins selected on Friday, in rounds 3-10. Had to find an “interesting” story for the later rounds on Saturday. Both days, I had to get on the phone with the vice president of scouting when the last round ended and then transcribe the conversations so the other Miami writers who followed the team to Chicago could write about the Draft too. I had to call a high school coach in California for stats on one of the higher-round picks and I had to resign myself to no stats for a local kid whose coach I couldn’t even find an email address for. After it all, I reviewed the Draft and wrote a piece that looked at the progression of last year’s Draft picks.

But I wouldn’t trade the 3500 words I wrote sitting at a kitchen table all weekend for the world.

The following, however, is what the internship typically looks like:

Game days are long. For a night game, I arrive around 2:30 pm and don’t leave until 11 pm, if I’m lucky. You write three or four 300-400 word notes (signings, trades, injuries, any general news and occasionally some color), type up some grafs to send to whoever is in charge of the game preview for the next day, keep a running gamer and then do a write-through of it.

You also have to factor in interviews, which can take anywhere from 10 minutes to a whole hour, if it’s pre-game.

People will tell you when you’re going into the business that you spend a lot of time waiting. They’re not kidding. One day, all I wanted to do was talk to the Marlins’ Christian Yelich for a pre-game notebook item but I never saw the guy in the 45 minutes I stood in the clubhouse. So you have to have an arsenal of backup ideas when you’re covering an entire game, otherwise you’ll waste a lot of time.

And once you have all the quotes, you try to file the notebook and help with the preview in the two hours before the game. That way the only thing you have on your mind during the game is the gamer, which is one the most important duties I have. MLB.com prides itself on gamers.

So yes. It’s a lot. I’m a secondary reporter for a team I didn’t even grow up watching. But I’m glad I’m getting a taste of what it’s like to actually cover a beat.

I’ve got another four months or so left here in South Florida, depending on how far the Marlins go, so you’ll hear from me soon. In the meantime, feel free to follow me on Twitter (@maria_torres3) and contact me. Hope this helps anyone who wants to apply to MLB.com in the future!