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Otterbein student lives her dream of reporting on an NHL game

Otterbein student lives her dream of reporting on an NHL game

By: Laina Kannenwischer ’20

Imagine being a kid again, waking up Christmas morning to see a stocking full of presents. That joy and excitement when you hear Santa has come and eaten your cookies. Reindeer stomping on the roof. That was the feeling I had watching the Columbus Blue Jackets play the New York Islanders on Thursday, Dec. 14.

Only I wasn’t just watching the game. I was reporting on it, with full media access.

Getting to work as a student journalist at the Blue Jackets game, or for any professional sports team, is an opportunity most students do not get. Attending Otterbein has opened me up to experiences I could never dream of, and getting press access to my favorite team and my favorite sport is something I will never forget.

The evening started under the arena’s stands as Head Coach John Tortorella gave his pre-game press conference. This was an interesting press talk as he had not said anything to the media after a humiliating loss just two nights earlier to the Edmonton Oilers. Tortorella talked about the changes in defensive pairings and commented that players are still enjoying themselves despite recent defeats.

The next event of the night, the game, was held in much anticipation. After the Blue Jackets finished the first period leading 3-0, everyone was abuzz with excitement and writing a lede early wasn’t only possible but easy.

The second period was a far greater challenge for the Blue Jackets as the Islanders found their legs between periods. It wasn’t too long before the game was tied again. The Blue Jackets made two key goals to regain the lead before the start of the third period.

Cheering in the press box isn’t allowed, but I found myself sighing a lot as the last period came to a close. With a final victory of 6-4, it was a good night for the Blue Jackets and for the reporters who were on deadline within a few hours.

I then found myself in the “holy grail” of hockey: the locker room. It was not what I was expecting, truth be told. There were just five sweaty players waiting for reporters to stick phones and cameras in their faces. They answered the same questions five times over and had a similar response every time.

I even had the gumption to ask a question to 19-year-old rookie centre Pierre-Luc Dubois. At 19 myself, I’m only a few months older than him. I listened to my recording afterwards and realized I started well but need to work on my delivery. It made me feel better knowing Dubois’ answer was just as poorly worded as my question, but don’t let him know I said that.

To wrap up the night, Tortorella conducted his post-game press conference. Unlike after Tuesday’s loss, he was very happy with the game and felt slumping veterans stepped up once again. It was a positive attitude all around but the hard work was just beginning.

I was given a soft deadline to write my game summary, unlike most reporters who need to have stories written within the hour.  As someone who knows hockey better than I know myself, this was far harder than expected. It took time and focus as I thought back on the important 60 minutes of play from the night before.

Here are some things I learned:

  • You can’t properly recall a goal if you don’t know the players on both teams. It’s not enough to know one side because both play important roles.
  • While I wanted to focus on statistics, stats don’t necessarily flow into the game summary. Stats sound cool on their own but aren’t needed.
  • Sports articles aren’t written in the inverted pyramid style. Readers seek out these articles, not stumble upon them due to the nature of the content.
  • You shouldn’t second guess yourself. Reading through my own writing makes me overthink, but that only makes it worse. I can trust my gut.

Knowing my article would be sent to Aaron Portzline, reporter for The Athletic, and Todd Sharrock, vice president of communication and team services for the Blue Jackets, I felt the pressure, but I think it turned out well.

I have a better understanding and appreciation for reporters and what they do because I discovered reporting isn’t easy. A lot happens in a single hockey game, and it is important to filter through all the action and decide what people want to read. Anyone can Google the score from the game, but it is up to a reporter, or in this case me, to tell a story and draw attention from sports fans.

This is a challenge I was willing to take on and hope to do again soon.

Learn more about Otterbein's public relations program.