Hoop Dreams

Posted On April 16, 2012 by Marcus Key
Categories Atlanta Connections

ATLANTA—To get a behind-the-scenes look at the press operations of an NBA game is a dream come true for young journalists eager to learn about the industry. On March 25, it became a reality for a group of nine GSU students who were selected to attend The Atlanta Hawks College Media Day as the team played host to the Utah Jazz.

For senior journalism major Chris Halbert, the experience was one he won’t soon forget.

“It was, no doubt, an opportunity of a lifetime,” he said.

Besides getting the chance to interact with Hawks’ staff members and get a real-life glimpse into the world of journalism in the NBA, the game they witnessed was one for the record books. The Hawks captured a grueling 139-133 quadruple-overtime victory against the Jazz. It was the third-longest game in NBA history at three hours and 17 minutes, and only the ninth NBA game to go four overtime periods and the first in more than 14 years.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said sophomore managerial science major Zachory Proa. “Witnessing an NBA game go into four overtimes from behind the scenes was a lot of fun.”

College Media Day is an event hosted annually by the Atlanta Hawks in which they bring in a select group of area college students interested in post-graduation media careers to experience an NBA game as a professional journalist.

Upon arriving at Philips Arena, the students were provided official media passes granting them full access throughout the facility. Dinner was provided in the media break room and they dined with Atlanta Hawks’ Vice President of Basketball and Hall of Famer, Dominique Wilkins.

“Eating with Dominique Wilkins was one of the coolest parts of the night,” Proa said. “He’s the one who made me into the big Atlanta Hawks fan I am today.”

Immediately following dinner, students were led to a pre-game Q-and-A session where the interacted with television, print and radio media professionals. Guests included Atlanta’s WXIA 11 Alive News sports broadcast journalist Sam Crenshaw, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sports columnist Jeff Shultz and 26-year veteran Hawks’ radio announcer Steve Holman.

“I wake up every morning excited about going to work,” said Crenshaw, an Emmy-Award winning journalist. “Position yourselves and be ready for your opportunity. Timing is so important.”

Students also had a chance to meet the Hawks’ Senior Manager of Media Relations Jason Roose and Hawks sports blogger, fellow GSU student and Signal sports editor Jerel Marshall. All of the speakers offered up valuable information regarding the sports communication industry and shared insight into ways students can market themselves.

“I discovered that with sports journalism, these days, you don’t want to stick to one particular concentration,” said Kenyatta Rhodes, a senior journalism major. “I learned it’s wise to put your hands in a little bit of everything as far as writing, photography, public relations and even broadcasting.”

At the conclusion of the Q-and-A sessions, students were allowed to watch the game from media seating where they got to take in the action first hand.

After the historic game, students were led to the Hawks’ practice court where they were allowed to attend a post-game press conference with Hawks Head Coach Larry Drew. At the end of the press conference, students were allowed an opportunity to act as professional journalists and ask Drew some questions of their own about the quadruple-overtime victory and the overall performance of the team.

As an added bonus, students were allowed an opportunity to write a post-game summation of their College Media Day experience and have it posted on the Hawks website.

Sam Gaston, Hawks Media Relations Assistant, said the goal of College Media Day is to provide students the opportunity to interact with experienced veterans in the business, and, potentially, build relationships.

“This event is a good way for students to reach out and take initiative into their own careers,” he said.

Aside from College Media Day the Hawks organization also supports Georgia State by providing a special scholarship that’s eligible for incoming GSU freshmen. The Atlanta Hawks Foundation Scholarship awards a five-year, $50,000 grant to a student that has demonstrated a commitment to education and community service.

April 16, 2012