Sports Journalism Institute

Helping women and minorities get into newsrooms since 1993

SI job a dream come true for Woods

By Michael Curtis

It’s been nine years since Shemar Woods landed his first internship opportunity, working for Dave Ammenheuser at The Press Enterprise in Riverside, Calif.

Ammenheuser, currently the sports director for USA TODAY Network – Tennessee, opened his home to Woods during the summer while Woods worked for the newspaper for 11 weeks. Woods, then a rising college junior, covered three pro teams–the Lakers, the Chargers, and the Angels.

“We gave him a lot of tedious tasks as an intern,” Ammenheuser said. “We were putting together a special section for the Lakers, and he just sat down and got busy. He went above and beyond, and I knew right then that he had a very hard-working attribute that would make him successful.”

That experience served as the jumping off point for Woods’ journalism career. He found that, more than anything else, he loved telling stories. Speaking to subjects and sources, crafting stories and working to make them better were all things he enjoyed.

The next year Woods was accepted into the Sports Journalism Institute and interned at the Denver Post. After graduating from Hampton University in 2011, he interned for three months at the Washington Post. Although Woods didn’t receive a job offer at the conclusion of the internship, it wasn’t long before he landed his first full-time opportunity.

Woods was hired by the New York Daily News in 2011, followed by ESPN New York in 2012, where he worked for Leon Carter, one of his mentors at SJI. Woods made the move to Bristol, Conn., in 2015 to work for ESPN.com as an editor, and returned to New York in 2016 to work for MLB.com. As he recalled his journey, he thought about what he would say to a younger version of himself.

“I would definitely tell myself to relax and stay patient,” Woods said. “Some of the things I wanted, I wasn’t necessarily ready for. Anything that we want or strive for, isn’t going to happen on our time.”

During his two years as a homepage editor at MLB.com, Woods supervised content for all 30 team sites on a nightly basis. That was unquestionably a big job with plenty of responsibility, but what came next is something Woods calls “a dream” opportunity as a senior editor at Sports Illustrated, where he helps oversee editorial content on SI.com.

“I don’t want to sound corny or cliché, but it’s honestly a dream,” Woods said. “I think everything about this move to Sports Illustrated feels right. It’s felt right since the beginning.”

It felt like the right fit for SI, too.

“We really needed somebody we felt had strong management credentials, but who also had great sports instincts and who loves sports,” SI editorial director Christian Stone said. “We needed someone who is able to make decisions very quickly because you have to make much quicker snap decisions on the night shift opposed to the day shift. We’re thrilled to have him.”

Woods credits part of his success to the Sports Journalism Institute, which has helped approximately 325 women and minorities secure opportunities in sports newsrooms around the country.

“The Sports Journalism Institute is a special program,” Woods says, “and it really does set you up for lifelong connections, lifelong lessons and provides all the skills you need that will help when you get out into the real world of journalism.”

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