I never wanted to become a sports journalist when I transferred to Rowan University.
I’m a senior public relations major, but my skillset leading up to this year is quite diverse.
In high school, I had four years of music theory experience under my belt. This includes everything from music performance for both piano and voice, music composition, and really, everything in between.
In conjunction with the four years of music experience, I had a decade of theater experience. From the summer after the third grade to my sophomore year of high school, I lived on the stage. I’d be apart of two productions a year: a production in March that would start rehearsals in September and another in August that would begin in July.
Before that, I was on a dance team from the time I could walk until about first grade.
For all of my life, it’s safe to say that when I lived on a stage. When I grew up, I would continue to live on a stage. That’s where I felt at home. I wasn’t me for that two and a half hour play, I was Mrs. Darling in Peter Pan Jr., or a chorus member of another. But I was something that contributed to the show.
I remember one of our directors, who is a former Disney World cast member, told us before each show – especially the Disney ones – that we needed to remember to bring the “magic” to the audience. We needed to have the audience believe that they were in our world. Honestly, that was one of most fun pieces of advice I’ve received about acting in a musical. It elevated our performance.
Unfortunately, I didn’t stick with the musicals through high school. My last show was my sophomore year of high school. I think at that point, I was just straying away from that idea of living on the stage. There could be many reasons why I fell out of love with theater, but I always think about it from time to time.
However, in my junior year of high school, I knew I wanted to join our prestige high school honors society. In order to join that, I had to rack up enough “points” from all of the things I’ve done during high school. I sat down and figured out how many points I needed to get to be apart of the honors society. I believe it was about 25 total points I needed.
Chinese club member? One point.
National Honors Society member? Five points.
Student council member? Three points.
High grades? Five points.
Volunteer service? Five points.
Basically, I was short about five points. I talked to my advisor about what I could do, and he offered a few suggestions.
E-board member? Five points.
Musical lead? Never had a lead in a school play.
Football manager? Bingo!
Needless to say, being a football manager – the “Bobby Boucher” if you will – granted my five points I needed to be apart of the honors society. But what I didn’t know is that being the manager sparked a new love for sports.
From this moment on, I loved sports, though I didn’t see myself having a career there. Sports, specifically football, was just a fun hobby. The Eagles won the Super Bowl that year, so it was a fun time to enjoy football.
Post-graduation and through community college, football was just a hobby.
Once I graduated from my community college, I would soon get to Rowan University and aim to pursue a degree in music business to become a producer.
Before I could even set foot on the campus, Rowan emailed me to tell me that I was rejected from the music business program.
I was heartbroken. I was hurt because this is all I knew since the time I could walk and talk. I had this major idea of living on a stage for the rest of my life, but now I needed a new degree.
In hindsight, I realize you don’t technically need a degree to be a performer, but the classes surely help. (It’s too late to go back now.)
I chose a new degree, and I chose one that would help me get in and out of Rowan the quickest. Because I was transferring and brought with me at least 60 credits, I only had about 12 classes to go before I’d graduate. Taking one class early, then finishing next summer with another class, I could knock out this degree in one year.
I started with an introductory course with public relations writing. A few weeks in, I really started to enjoy the class. Each week, we would have writing assignments and projects due, and I made the most of each. After they were graded, we would receive notes about what was good and what needed improvement (for me, limiting passive voice.) I liked that it was so writing intensive. I’ve always loved writing growing up, and I wish it was something I knew I wanted to pursue earlier.
The first semester rolls around, and I knew I wanted to immerse myself into something, I just didn’t know what. I started with The Whit, Rowan’s school newspaper, because that was another avenue for me to write. My first article was an album review for Big Sean.
I wrote a fair amount of arts and entertainment pieces, however, I did write about the Philadelphia Eagles. Because the team’s season just kicked off, I wrote about what their key to success would be for the year. Basically, I said seasoned veterans with younger players would make for one heck of a team. (Boy, did that article age well.)
I pulled a lot of stats and research for this article, too, and I really enjoyed it. From then on, I figured that writing about sports would be a fun avenue to pursue. Because I had an early childhood passion with writing, and a newfound love of sports, putting the two together would be perfect.
Right before my first semester ended, I tacked on a minor called “sports communication and media.” It’s a general degree that kind of touches the basics of sports communication.
I figured, besides The Whit, the best way for me to get involved in sports is through our school’s radio station, “Rowan Radio, 89.7 WGLS-FM.” I did my training virtually in the spring, shadowed someone who’d already been apart of the station, then got on the air right away. I spent my whole summer doing back-to-back shifts just to “catch up.”
At the end of my first year at Rowan, I solidified my career path: a sports multimedia journalist. I tacked on a journalism minor, and though I almost didn’t need to because public relations and journalism writing are one and the same, I figured the few extra classes were worthwhile. (Plus they doubled with my sports communication minor.)
Also at the end of my first year, I was granted the opportunity to apply for an internship with the NFL Alumni Association. This organization is a non-profit that services former NFL players, their families, and their communities. I’ve been with them since June, and I’ve worn many hats throughout my time there so far.
I started out by doing a public relations writing project for them, that we have since put on the back burner. But I also do social media stuff for them, as well as an occasional article or writing piece in relation to the company.
I worked with them all through the summer, and now that I fulfilled internship credits, I basically volunteer to work there. The environment is out of this world and the relationships I’ve built there so far is more than I could ever ask for.
Now that I know I want to be a sports journalist, I’ve done a lot of projects on my own to build my portfolio, as well as do things regularly for Rowan Radio’s sports department.
The most important thing I’ve picked up on since switching career paths is that in my one and a half years of being apart of the sports action at Rowan, I’ve never felt more welcome and part of the family. This is the same feeling I had when I was a football manager in high school. If only I had paid attention to this feeling more, I might have known I wanted to be a sports journalist. Everyone’s college journey is unique, and mine just happens to be a happy ending success story type.
Now, I’m sitting across from former quarterback, Ron Jaworski, discussing his youth charity, or I’m interviewing former Philadelphia Eagles legend, Mike Quick, about what it was like to play in the NFL, and I can’t ask for anything more.
I never wanted to become a sports journalist when I transferred to Rowan University, but I’m so glad that mindset changed.