Three years ago when I first came to Central Connecticut and heard about the student run newspaper, The Recorder, I didn’t know what to do. I was a new journalism major and knew I had to right, but was scared. I have always loved sports, but writing wasn’t really my thing until I decided to give journalism a shot. I could finally write about topics that interested me and I enjoyed it.
In the spring of 2011 I emailed Brittany Burke, the sports editor of The Recorder at the time and asked if I could write about baseball, my pastime. She told me that there was someone already who did baseball (Kenny Barto), but I could do softball. The memories of the one high school softball game I ever went to began to run through my head. It was the worst, most boring game I had ever seen and didn’t think college softball would be that great either.
I talked to the sports information department and they set me up with an interview with head coach Jeff Franquet one day for a preview of the 2011 season. I was nervous, had no idea what to ask him and I’m sure I don’t want to read that story ever again. I did a couple stories for the paper throughout the season and even did a feature on Kat Knowles, a senior catcher from Washington. That was a cool story, because I also got to take pictures on the field during senior day for my photojournalism class.
In 2012 I was ready for the season to start. I got some stories under my belt and had successfully established CCSU softball as my beat. In addition to writing the season preview, I met with coach Franquet every Monday in his office and we talked about the past weekends games. I had to do this because I worked all weekend and could rarely make it to the games. Not an ideal situation for a journalist writing timely stories, but I made it work. I would leave the office and work on the story, usually mine being one of the last edited and placed on the page during Monday night layout.
Last season I also wrote a feature on Laura Messina. If you follow any part of the program you should know that name by now, but I wrote the story first. I met her in one of the study rooms in the athletes study hall and talked to her for 20 minutes or so about her high school career and what it meant to be breaking records already as a freshman. From that day forward I knew she didn’t care about setting school records unless it meant that the team was winning. 2012 was a great team, but injuries in the middle of the season derailed the hopes of making the conference tournament, even though another single-season win record was broken.
This year felt like the year from the very beginning. Franquet finally had a solid core of his players and the last three years he had been preaching “get better everyday” and “buy into the system” and that’s exactly what happened. From the opening trip to Florida when the team went 2-3 against some very tough opponents to the 12-game winning streak they went on to begin Northeast Conference play, the Blue Devils knew they were the best team in the conference and that confidence carried them all the way to the first NEC title in program history.
I wrote my stories and I even made it to a few weekend games where I was allowed to go on the field after the game and do some interviews like a real reporter. 2013 was special for me as well.
I would have loved to go to Moon Township, Penn. for the tournament, but I couldn’t, I had to work on Saturday. So instead, I watched the game live on NECFrontRow.com on my phone while I cashed people out at Lowe’s. NEC Front Row is probably the best streaming video service in college sports in the country and they came through huge for me this past weekend.
At 4:31 a.m. on Sunday morning I received a text message from coach Franquet, “10pm tonight is the ncaa selection show. We will all be in the coaches suite [at] 915. Please come by and enjoy the celebration.”
Of course I accepted the invition and got this in return, “You are a part of this journey”
I fell in love with this team and almost felt like a part of them. If they won, I was happy, if they lost, it affected my mood (for a short time). It was just awesome to watch and to be acknowledged like that by the coach meant a lot to me. I drove from East Hampton to New Britain just to be a part of the celebration; it was a once in a lifetime event and something I will always remember.
A little after 10 p.m. this image showed up on the television and the team erupted…http://instagram.com/p/ZPFuBvrcLu/
CCSU will travel to LSU for the Baton Rouge regional this weekend.
So, I would like to thank Kenny Barto for being the baseball writer in 2011 and forcing me to write softball and Brittany Burke for suggesting I try writing a softball story. The last three years covering this team has meant so much to me and made my entire CCSU career worth while.