Off the Leash and Running Free

Monday, February 13, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS -- Every once in a while, life will throw you a bone and present you with the opportunity of a lifetime. Whether or not you pick it up is entirely your decision. This is the story of mine.

Currently a senior at Greencastle High School in the small town of Greencastle, Indiana, to say that anything extraordinary happens in my daily routine would be an exaggeration. My graduating class has 137 students in it and our lunch menu consists of 23 different types of chicken. Yes, I have actually counted.

Although Greencastle may be small, it offers a wide variety of courses -- my favorite being journalism. As a freshman, I joined the GHS InkPot staff and immediately fell in love with writing. As the years progressed, I was presented with other ways thanks to the Banner Graphic to explore the many different areas of journalism; more specifically broadcast journalism. My love for writing quickly molded into a passion for sports broadcasting. I enjoy it so much actually, that I plan to attend Indiana University for an undergraduate degree in the subject.

When my journalism advisor, Mrs. Tracie Speakman, received an email from the Indiana High School Press Association regarding a contest for sportswriters I immediately jumped on the opportunity. Encouraged by Mrs. Speakman and my mentor, Professor Larry Abed, from my internship at DePauw University's television station, I believed I possessed a legitimate shot at being a finalist for the most spectacular prize imaginable to a sports reporter; a ticket to the NFL Super Bowl Media Day.

Since I had to provide three examples of my work (a page layout, an article, or a photo) Mrs. Speakman and I deliberated for several days on which materials to submit. In the end, we decided on an article I had written about the GHS football team, who went 7-3 this year (go Tiger Cubs!), a page I created for the Inkpot with an article I authored about our new head football coach, and a multi-media presentation I filmed, edited, wrote, and produced for my internship at DPU.

Mrs. Speakman converted everything into a PDF, emailed it to Diana Hadley from the IHSPA, and we waited for the next three weeks for an answer.

I'll never forget the moment when I found out I won.

Mrs. Speakman rushed into my AP English Language class and asked if she could see me in the hall. Before the door closed completely, she started jumping up and down, screaming, "YOU WON! YOU WON! You're one of the 8!"

I stared at her with my mouth gaping in complete disbelief. I was going to Super Bowl Media Day!

At the time, the playoffs had not been played, so I didn't know who I would be seeing. Since my beloved Colts were definitely not going to the playoffs, I was rooting for the Denver Broncos (I'm a huge Tim Tebow fan) and the New York Giants since my best friend's cousin, Steve Weatherford, is the starting punter.

Much to my dismay, Tebow fell in the second round as he was defeated by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots who would go on and win the AFC Championship. For the NFC, Eli Manning and the Giants managed to walk away with the championship and the match was set. All I had to do was stay patient as the hours counted down until Media Day.

Tuesday, Jan. 31 finally arrived and I woke up at 5 a.m. in order to be in Indianapolis by 7:15. Although I was a little groggy, the adrenaline inside me ensured I stayed awake through the entire morning's routine. We walked from IUPUI to the Convention Center to pick up our credentials then jaunted over to Lucas Oil Stadium to meet the editor and reporters from the Indianapolis Star.

Standing on the field in Lucas Oil, 11 a.m. finally came and brought with it the New England Patriots. Armed with a video camera, notepad, and an air of confidence only a reporter knows, I stared in awe as massive Patriots players began mingling among us. I sent a text message to Mrs. Speakman that read something along the lines of, "OMG! The Patriots are walking around me! I'm standing right next to one!" Keep in mind the most impressive person I had ever interviewed was the GHS head football coach.

I walked around, eagerly recording random interviews with players and conducting a few of my own. I was also snapping pictures on my phone and sending them back to Mrs. Speakman, my vice principal, and jealous friends and family.

The hour we had to interview the Patriots was the fastest hour of my life. I managed to obtain interviews from Brian Waters, Deion Branch, Shane Vereen, Carson Butler, and Alex Silvestro along with footage of several key players and Bill Belichick.

Still reeling from the adrenaline of talking to professional football players, I scarfed down the delicious lunch Lucas Oil provided me, and enjoyed a lovely conversation with the Nick Toons superhero, Pick Boy.

With 10 minutes left until the Giants time, I scampered back to the field and chatted with my fellow IHSPA winners about how exciting and surreal the entire day was.

The Giants took the field, and I scoured the area looking for the punter, Steve Weatherford, and found him interviewing his own players for a news station. I was finally able to talk with him along with Bear Pasco, Hakeem Nicks, Jason Pierre-Paul and several other practice players.

The final buzzer rang, officially ending the Super Bowl Media Day. As the players filed off the field, I reflected on what I had just experienced. I had been a terrier in a pen filled with Great Danes and realized I could survive and thrive. Overall the day reinforced what I already know; I want to pursue a career in sports broadcasting.

So although I may not have been able to meet Tim Tebow, Jan. 31, 2012 will live as the greatest day of my life to this point as I am able to bury this bone in my memory forever.