Learning On The Fly

I walked into the quiet Middletown Press office this afternoon without having any idea of what I was going to be doing. I have just opened an email on my phone, a press release from the CT Whale announcing Kris Newbury had just been called up to the New York Rangers. I knew I was going to have to do something with that, but rewriting press releases is not the easiest thing to do, especially since it seems like all the information is already there.

I sat down at my desk in the corner with my new computer that they finally set up for me, then Joe, the sports editor and my boss came over to show me the “system that makes the newspaper work” or something like that. I still don’t know how it works or remember what it’s called, but I’ll get the hang of it. After this 15-20 minutes lesson that the rest of the office had to take a three-day training session on, I was writing the press release for the CT Whale story. I had to do a little bit of research, but nothing crazy, just a few more stats than what the organization released, like how many times Newbury has been called up to the Rangers and how he was acquired by the parent organization three years ago (via trade with the Detroit Red Wings).

As I was finishing this assignment, Joe told me that he was sending me to Middletown High School for the girls basketball game with the photographer. So, I’m going to write a game story? Yup, this was my first chance to get a byline in a real newspaper that thousands of people would read. It sounds like a daunting task, but I wasn’t nervous at all, I embraced the opportunity. Around 6:40 pm I got in the car with Cathy, the photographer and we made our way to the high school where Berlin was set to take on the Blue Dragons of Middletown. After I was introduced to a few people, names and positions I can’t recall, I took my seat at the “scorers table” and started taking notes.

The game was close all the way through. Middletown never held a lead, but only trailed by two at the half and ended up losing 57-51. This was one of the most physical basketball games I have ever seen, which made it exciting, but also boring at times. Combined 35 free throws were taken, so there were a lot of stoppages in time, but as I said earlier, it remained close.

After hearing Middletown’s coach Rob Smernoff yell the entire game, I found him in the hallway after along with the Berlin coach to get my quotes. About a minute and a half from each was enough, but I could have gotten more. I didn’t start thinking about my lead until the ride home when I noticed the Redcoats opened the second half with a 7-0 run which proved to be the deciding factor in the game. If I noticed this before talking to the coaches, I would have asked them about it and made my story that much stronger.

We drove back to the office and I had one hour to write my story. I had the lead, but then the pressure of a 9:45 deadline started to get to me. I resorted back to my usual format of explaining the game and fitting in quotes where they seemed to fit. I finished with about five minutes to spare, which is a loose term, because deadlines are there, but you can be a few minutes late here and there, although editors don’t like it. While all this was happening the photographer was editing her photos to go along with my story. Just sitting there, keeping my cool, this was an awesome experience.

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What Is Viper Live Sports?

Ever since I joined Twitter and with the help of my friend @kmosk3, I have been live tweeting all of the sporting events I have attended. These range from high school baseball to CT Whale hockey at the XL Center to New Britain Rock Cats baseball at New Britain Stadium and all the Central Connecticut State University events I have ever been to. I have tweeted so much that the Sports Information Office at the university hired me to live tweet their sports from the official @CCSUBlueDevils account. Most of my casual followers have enjoyed this transition, because I am no longer filling their timelines with Blue Devil softball tweets all spring.

I have recently began an internship at the Middletown Press newspaper as I complete my senior year of college and work my way towards a bachelors degree in journalism. I began at the paper last week and was immediately sent out with the staff photographer and a reporter to cover the Mercy High School basketball game. I was given the task of live tweeting the game using the hashtag #ctgb (Connecticut Girls Basketball) so my editor could retweet me from back at the office. I enjoyed the fact that many more people were going to be reading my tweets, but when I left the office for the night and looked at my account, one of my friends had asked me why I was at the game? I had to explain that it was for the internship and I don’t normally attend high school girls basketball games, especially if I have no connection, but this got me thinking…

Maybe I need a special Twitter account that I will only use for live tweeting sports, since it has become such a big part of my life. I posed the question to my followers and a few responded to me…

@jonstank: “@DCTViper89 pro: easier for followers to find you con: you’ll have two accounts to worry about. I say go for it.”

So I finally made the account last night (@ViperLiveSports), followed a bunch of local newspapers and sports reporters from around Connecticut and here I am, making a blog that will follow all the live sporting events I will go to and my internship with the sports editor at the Middletown Press.