By Lee Schechter (MSJ14)
I never expected to be covering the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots for ESPN Boston less than one month after graduating with an MSJ from Medill. My Medill education and networking put me in position for an experience of a lifetime.
During day one of Patriots training camp, I was intimidated thanks to a rare one-on-one encounter with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick in an elevator at Gillette Stadium. Belichick was introduced to me by the team’s VP of media relations and gave me a stern, but blank stare as he shook my hand. The VP of media relations introduced me as Field Yates’ replacement at ESPN Boston. Belichick muttered in his signature voice, “Those are some big shoes to fill.” I responded with a simple acknowledgment of the challenge ahead of me. Belichick cracked a grin, arguably one of the rare forms of emotions for the typically stoic legend of a coach.
Belichick’s quick crack of a smile set the tone for my season of reporting for ESPN. I was a part of delivering quality news on amazing events and players. The ultimate highlight of the season was riding on a duck boat in the Patriots’ Super Bowl Parade in front of more than 700,000 cheering fans.
From a journalistic perspective, the biggest moment of the season was the coverage of the now infamous Deflate-gate. For nearly two weeks, I was a part of the gauntlet of reporters trying to gain player perspectives and attempting to make sense of the various statements by Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. Medill’s “into the fire” approach from day one of the Methods course prepared me for that moment of on the fly reporting on what became the nation’s most popular talking point.
For me, covering a team is all about the relationships I build with players and members of the organization. That’s why I’m in this business for the long haul. Being able to write the first article to tell rookie center Bryan Stork’s story and why he is so reserved was my chance to dive into the human-interest side of sports. The daily tasks of running a blog are fun, but the chance to provide readers with useful analysis and share stories like Brandon Browner’s strange NFL journey, Jonas Gray’s emergence after battling back from a knee injury, and Tom Brady finding his college resume is so fulfilling.
There are two main pieces of advice to know as a sports reporter.
- The sporting world never sleeps. It’s a 24/7 job and takes a lot of monitoring of everything around you, especially if you want to be ahead of everyone else, which should be every sportswriter’s goal.
- The industry is about relationships. If you can build relationships with everyone around you, the stories will come to you and the job will be that much more fun.
Through the power of my Medill education and the alumni network, I have started off my career as a sports journalist on the right foot. And I now have the proper footing to continue to grow throughout my career.
My experience with ESPN opened the door for me to keep pursuing my dreams in sports journalism. I currently work at Bleacher Report as a Front Page Editor. It’s wild to think that I already have worked at two of the biggest sports media outlets in the world.
The sky is the limit from here.
Lee Schechter (MSJ14) arrived at Medill knowing he wanted to pursue a career in sports journalism. After graduation he covered the eventual Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots for ESPNBoston.com.