Sports Journalism Institute

Helping women and minorities get into newsrooms since 1993

Leaving Utah and its stereotypes

Carron J. PhillipsCarron J. Phillips
Class of 2011

The day I found out I was moving to Utah for the summer I immediately though of two things — Brandon Davies and Starbucks.

Rick Majerus’s 1998 Final Four run with the Utes, the Jazz, and the combination of Urban Meyer, Alex Smith and Utah winning in the 2009 Sugar Bowl were pretty much all I knew about the state. So when I got the news that I’d be working this summer at The Salt Lake Tribune intern, I wondered if I’d be without the services of a Venti Strawberries & Cremé Frappuccino all summer as the do’s and don’ts of BYU’s honor code glared at me from my TV screen.

In case you hadn’t heard — though I’m pretty sure most of you have — there are a lot of stereotypes associated with this state. But when I stepped off the plane for the summer, my plan was to come here and work.

That’s exactly what I’ve done. I put in over 70 hours during my first week on the job, and I’ve since been all over in covering racing events at Miller Motorsports Park, the Wasatch Back relay, Bees and RSL games, the grueling run-up to the start of the prep football and volleyball seasons.

Now, as my internship now comes to a close, I leave having learned that Salt Lake City is just like any other large metro area — except for the weekly fireworks celebrations and the discovery that pedestrians really have the right-of-way. It’s the other way around back east. I also learned that Salt Lake City has some of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life; people who even tell the truth when they’re playing pickup basketball. I still haven’t gotten over that one.

My initial Utah culture shock centered on the time change and the landscape. I was born and raised in Michigan, then spent eight years in Atlanta, followed by another year in New York.

All I know is flat land and Eastern Standard Time. So you can imagine my confusion upon being surrounded by mountains at every turn and wondering why none of my favorite TV shows came on at the right time.

The race factor was also an issue, at least at first. I’ve lived in big, predominantly African-American cities for 26 of my 27 years. It was weird living in a place where everybody hiked, rock-climbed and rode their bikes. Black people don’t hike.

And last call came at 12:30 a.m., when I was just walking in the door. But I soon got over that because my focus was on work, not happy hour.

So as I prepare to leave, I have to confess, I’m still not big on mountains. But I can say that I spent the summer with one of the best and most diverse sports desks in the country, and I want to thank them for all of their help. I will never forget my time here, especially my week on the justice desk. I just hope you all won’t forget me and remember to keep the nicknames I gave everyone.

And I’m forever addicted to Café Rio.

Carron J. Phillips just graduated with a masters degree from Syracuse University.