Sports Journalism Institute

Helping women and minorities get into newsrooms since 1993

Reflections from the Class of 2019

Some students share their experiences from a productive week of sports checks, deadline writing and a plethora of guest speakers while at Arizona State University.

The Sports Journalism Institute Bootcamp pushed me in ways that I didn’t think I could be driven in a week. I had been warned by alums of the program, but to experience it myself was a whole different thing. From sports checks to writing stories on deadline to listening to alums and other guest speakers, SJI Bootcamp was eye-opening. I realized that I need to work even harder than I already have to get to where I want to be in the world of sports media. Sports checks taught me the importance of being aware of what’s going on in sports, and more generally, the world. The deadline writing exercises reminded me of how essential preparation is before covering an event — whether that means having key stats handy or taking notes of storylines to look out for. And the stories of SJI alumni were inspiring, mostly because they were proof of the success I could have if I use the resources around me and continue to be persistent in improving my craft. I’m incredibly grateful for Greg Lee, Leon Carter, and Sandy Rosenbush taking the time out of their schedules to help my classmates and I become better journalists. I gained a lot of tools in one week, but I know SJI isn’t just a week’s commitment. I’m now a part of a family that started with the class of 1993 and has been growing every year since. From when it was first announced that I’d be a member of the Class of 2019 to now, members of SJI classes of the past have reached out to me to offer their guidance and mentorship. Very few aspiring sports reporters have a network that is as large and talented as the one I’m blessed to have. Now, it’s my goal to use everything SJI has given me to thrive in the industry so that I can one day pay it forward, too.
-Parth Upadhyaya

My SJI Bootcamp experience was not only eye-opening but was a week that I’m always going to look back on as when my career in sports journalism really started. When I landed in Phoenix, I couldn’t have imagined that SJI would impact me the way that it did. The Bootcamp was far more challenging than I expected it to be, and I was quite shaken up after the first day. I didn’t know how I was going to make it through the week if it was as busy and challenging as Sunday was. I also didn’t think I was cut out for the industry, after getting 1 correct on the first of many sports checks. But, as I wrote in my first blog, the first full day of SJI, the sports check, and Sunday as a whole gave me a reality check. I worked harder than I have in a while and proved to myself that I can do whatever I set my mind to. And more importantly, SJI and the Bootcamp made me realize all over again why I want to go into this field—and that I can actually succeed in it. I was pushed out of my comfort zone and challenged in ways that I wasn’t used to. I received feedback and advice from some of the most talented writers in the field. And most importantly, I gained people that I know will continue to make an impact in my life and career for years to come. I am so grateful to SJI and the Bootcamp for giving me a family and invaluable experience that will help me in all my future endeavors.
— Elizabeth Finny

I arrived in Phoenix for the Sports Journalism Institute’s 2019 boot camp with little knowledge of what to expect. And what I got out of it is something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. Not only did I meet 13 talented journalists who understand me, but I learned from some of the best sports journalists in the industry — like Lisa Salters and Marcus Thompson — on what it takes to be successful. Not a day spent in Phoenix was wasted, whether it was the spontaneous sports checks that taught me the importance of observation and retention of facts, the deadline writing assignments that taught me how to thrive under pressure or the moments spent with people who I now call my family. I am more confident as a journalist after going through the SJI boot camp. I didn’t expect to grow so much in a week, and I definitely didn’t think I’d become so close so quickly with this group of people. The adversity that the 14 of us overcame — including covering TWO extra-inning baseball games on deadline, all while wondering in the back of our minds if a sports check would follow — brought us together. Maybe we were trying to do well on the sports checks for bragging rights or for the satisfaction of being on the leaderboard. But we were also invested in each other’s success, and that bond we built made me ready to tackle whatever lies ahead for me in this industry. Any doubt I had about belonging in this profession ended when I boarded my flight back home as an official SJI graduate, and I’m grateful to Sandy Rosenbush, Leon Carter and Greg Lee for the opportunity.
-Alanis Thames

The biggest takeaway from my time with my cohort and listening to guest speakers was the importance of being a multi-dimensional journalist. On one of our first days, Duane Rankin, a Suns reporter for The Arizona Republic, spoke to our class about the importance of incorporating video into ones reporting. He then asked us to come on camera and give a recap of an Arizona Diamondbacks game. After watching my video and receiving feedback, it was clear I had a lot of work to do to become comfortable on camera. That experience, along with many guest speakers from different parts of the industry sharing tips for success, was an essential reminder that I can’t rest on my laurels as a writer or in one aspect of journalism. As I enter my professional career, I’m more aware that I have to get out of my comfort zone and continuously work on all my weak areas. And after my week at SJI, I look forward to the challenge of getting better.
-Daniel Oyefusi

My experience with SJI was so much more amazing than I could have imagined! Before SJI, I did not know what to expect at all, and when I got there, it seemed so overwhelming. We did so many so activities such as daily Sports Checks, deadline writing, and got many tips from multiple speakers in the business. Overall, I learned so much, and I couldn’t be more grateful for my experience.
Sports Checks were multiple times a day, and these kept everyone on their toes, always trying to look up what was news was going on in the sports world! This was beneficial because personally, as the tests went on, I learned so many new things such as what the horse races are named, when they are and how long they are, or even updates on the French Open that I never really kept tabs on.
Deadline writing was my favorite part of the experience. The reason for this was because the first deadline activity really humbled me and made me realize I have so much more to learn. I had done deadline writing before, but the time frame wasn’t as quick as it was in the boot camp. As we continued to do more deadline activities and continued to get critiques, I became better, and that prepared me for the deadline stories that we had when we covered the Phoenix Mercury and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Another part of the boot camp that was genuinely beneficial was all the fantastic guest speakers! We talked to many people that gave us so many tips for all us to take in and use for our future careers and internships over the summer. Advice included that we need always to prove that we want to be where we are by doing all the work plus more. We need to be on top of things and know what is going on in the sports world.
None of this would have been possible without Gregory Lee Jr., Sandy Rosenbush, and Leon Carter. They took the time out of their busy schedules to help us all become better sports journalists, and I am so thankful. I had such an amazing experience learning from them. I met so many great young journalists in the class of 2019, and we are all a family now. I can’t wait to see what we all accomplish!
-Madisen Carter

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