Unexpected results
March 2, 2008, 2:30 pm
Filed under: Basketball, Journalism

KENNEWICK — Saturday was a mixed day in my sports world. The Cougars let a big win slip away after leading Stanford by as much as 14 points in the first half. But the teams I’m covering in the NWAACC tournament — the Community Colleges of Spokane men and women — each won and play today in their respective championship games.

It was expected for the men, who now have a whopping 30-1 record. That’s ridiculous. The women played through the injury of their leading-scorer and beat the defending two-time NWAACC champions. (Also, I can’t find my story on the women on the Spokesman’s website.)

But enough about that.

I watched the Cougs game at a local dive called Uncle Sam’s Saloon. It was pretty much exactly like it sounds, but they have a dozen hi-def big-screen TVs hanging all around the bar. I had a Red Hook and garlic wings, and tasted garlic through the rest of the evening.

Speaking of watching games, when I was sitting at the media table for the women’s game, once again there were guys next to me just talking and talking. They were tournament volunteers, talking about how the lighting at Toyota Center was set up. They kept talking through the last minutes of the game, when it was very tense and either team could have won. I found this extremely rude — and distracting.

Also, there was an off-duty referee sitting to my left who kept asking me about high school sports in the Tri Cities and Moses Lake. First of all, I had already told him I work for the Spokane paper. (He said that used to be his favorite newspaper, so I asked him why it isn’t anymore and he said because he moved to the Tri Cities.) Second of all, I know nothing about Tri Cities and Moses Lake high school sports, and told him so. Third of all, I was trying to report on the game. SHUT UP, OFF-DUTY OFFICIAL. I’M WORKING.

The women’s game ended at 8 p.m. The men’s game was scheduled to start at 8 p.m. (though they were about 20 minutes behind schedule on the men’s court). So I had to juggle setting up for the men’s game and interviewing the women’s coach and a player. With two stories due on deadline, and no time to write in between the games, I was getting a little stressed out. But in a good, journalist sort of way.

I wrote a few grafs on the women during the men’s halftime. Then after the game I had to immediately interview the men’s coach and two players. It wasn’t until 10 p.m. that I really started writing — starting with the rest of the women’s story — and I had deadline looming at 10:45 p.m.

Well, my editor called at 10:15 wondering where my women’s story was. I was close, but didn’t get it in until 10:30. By this time, I thought I had just 15 minutes to write the men’s story. Oh God. Called up my editor, and he thankfully said they’d need it by 11:15. Thank God. I wrote it and got it in at 11:07. I did it.

It was great getting that deadline rush. I felt like a real journalist again.

Afterward, I was talking with this nerdy photographer guy who was stringing for the Walla Walla paper. It was his first sports assignment and he was all stressed out. He was late with the photos and didn’t really know what he was doing. We both finished up work about the same time, so we started talking. He was one of those guys who you immediately regret starting up a conversation with, because then he just follows you around talking, even waiting for you when you head to the drinking fountain.

As we left the Toyota Center, he asked for my card so he might be able to freelance for the Spokesman. I handed it to him and he asked me about how I got into the Spokesman, how long I had been on staff. I was happy to tell him, because he is an aspiring photojournalist and wanted some pointers for getting into the business.

I was explaining my journey from last May (graduating) to the fall (being hired on then moving to sports) to now, when he suddenly stopped walking. A look of dread came over his face.

He had forgotten his camera in the now-locked Toyota Center.

He’s off to a good start.


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