As a third grader, I made my own sports magazine in which I wrote brief profiles of my favorite athletes in scrabbly print. A few years later, I passed the time on cross-country road trips with my father asking questions in fake interviews. Dad was not a big sports fan, yet I expected him to respond to my questions in the way that Bobby Bowden or Steve Spurrier would. Luckily, Mom kept that magazine, and Dad held onto the recorder tapes, and so I know without any doubt that I am one of those fortunate people who somehow got to live a dream.
At first, it was just getting to write about sports. At the Michigan Daily, my goal was to cover Lloyd Carr’s Michigan football team, and I did that for two seasons. After internships at the Tampa Tribune, San Antonio Express-News and Dallas Morning News, I knew that I actually wasn’t going to have to count on my Sociology degree from the U of M to make a living. Near the end of my time at the Daily, I began to challenge myself to do more than just cover the games, write advances and give readers the necessary nuts and bolts. I traveled to the South Side of Chicago to tell the story of UM wide receiver Jason Avant. It was addictive, this feeling that I was getting true insight into somebody and getting to share what they’d been through with the world. I’ve been chasing that sensation ever since.
At The Kansas City Star, I couldn’t have been around better people to show me the way. Wright Thompson and sports editor Mike Fannin pushed me to think about stories differently. I learned the word “narrative” and started studying the craft of longform. In the midst of that, I got to cover the University of Kansas athletic department for five years, writing each day for one of the most passionate fan bases in the country in Kansas basketball.
Now, in Pittsburgh at the Post-Gazette, I’m thankful to have what I consider a pinch-me job writing sports features and enterprise. My editors at the P-G give me the freedom to pursue narrative and the time to write the story in a compelling way. I like to write stories that have a conflict and a resolution, that have a beginning, a middle and an end — the things I first learned in Kansas City. I love the feeling of seeing a project through to completion and then reloading for the next one. I don’t expect that will ever get old.
* Placed fifth in the feature category of the 2015 Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest for a story about hockey star Evgeni Malkin and his hometown of Magnitogorsk, Russia, and placed ninth in the projects category for an exhaustive profile of Mario Lemieux.
* Received honorable mention recognition in the projects category of the 2013 Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest for a series on the high-school football team in Clairton, Pa.
* Since starting in Pittsburgh, received at least one first-place writing award in statewide competitions from 2013-2015.
* Placed first in the Investigative Reporting category of the 2010 Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest for coverage of the University of Kansas ticket scandal and its aftermath.
* Placed third in the Sports Writing category of the National Headliner Awards for a collection of five stories from 2007.
* Won first place in the 2008 Missouri Press Association writing contest for sports feature writing.
* Won first place in the 2011 Kansas Press Association writing contest for sports story. Also won first place for investigative story with a group of reporters.
* Won first place in the 17th Annual Football Writers Association of America Best Writing Contest in the loose deadline category. The previous year, was one of five writers to be recognized twice in the FWAA contest.
* Received notable mention in the 2010 Best American Sports Writing Series for a story on Youngstown, Ohio.
* Received honorable mention recognition in the Explanatory category of the 2010 Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest.
* Received honorable mention recognition in the Game Story category of the 2009 Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest.
* In 2006, 2007 and 2008, reported on team projects that placed in the Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest top 10.
* In 2010, named one of three finalists for the United States Basketball Writer’s Association’s inaugural Rising Star Award.