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Feature Story

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by Greg Pickel, Mar 10, 2010.

  1. Greg Pickel

    Greg Pickel Member

    Hey guys, working on a feature story on a high school strength and conditioning coach. Just finished the rough draft, so keep that in mind, but would love to hear your thoughts! Names have been changed for the most part.

    Just who is that guy you see in the bleachers at a baseball game, standing at a soccer game, or in the coach’s box at a football game? Student athletes call him Coach P, colleagues call him Bob, and parents refer to him as the guy who helped their kids learn to use the bench press, squat rack, and other weight room equipment properties. P grew up in Podunk, left for a brief time, and now he’s back, teaching and coaching, a profession he grew affectionate to as he grew older.
    Life before Teaching
    Bob P was a 1983 graduate of Podunk Area High School, where he graduated as a three time letter winner in football under Podunk legend Di, as well as a three time letter winner in basketball. After graduating as apart of the class of 1983, he took some times off of school before landing an opportunity that would change his life, and lead him on a path he never expected to go down. “It was during the 1980’s that Coach I asked me to assist him as a football coach. I began as a 7th and 8th grade football coach, and then ascended to an assistant on the freshmen football squad, before finally moving up to the junior varsity/varsity level. He also coached boy’s freshmen basketball during those years between high school and college under Podunkteacher and former coach B. P, at the age of twenty-four, attended and graduated from Lock Haven University, where he majored in Health and Physical Education. With his degree in hand, he headed to his first job.
    Home away from Home
    After college, P landed his first teaching job in Baltimore, Maryland, in the Baltimore City School District. Once landing a job there, he began coaching middle school basketball, continuing the coaching career as he had hoped to do after his brief coaching stint at Podunk. “Coaching is something I’ve always had a passion for after working under the great coaches Podunk had in the 80’s. It allows me to continue to help our student athlete’s progress in their sport and reach the next level.” He would build his resume in coaching before returning to Podunk, logging fourteen seasons as an assistant football coach, nine seasons as a head basketball coach, three at Kenwood High School in Maryland, and six at Hanover High School in Pennsylvania. After years away from Podunk, he knew it was time to come home and help the community that once helped him.
    Giving back through Fitness
    P returned to Podunk in VERIFY YEAR as the school’s strength and conditioning coach/coordinator, as well as being a teacher. He currently teaches strength and condition two and three, as well as two other gym classes, and a Current Health Issues class at Podunk Area High School. Between 7:25 and 2:30, he is a teacher, but it is after the school ending bell that he is able to use focus his attention on his biggest goals; helping student athletes prepare for their future through goal setting and planning, while teaching them how to be physically fit and obtain it properly for the rest of their lives. “In the weight room we have the same mentality as all coaches and teachers do, to help the kids go above and beyond each and every day, and then help them achieve their short-term and long-term goals in anyway we can.”
    Since Pelleteir’s return to Podunk, he has aided in the vast overhaul of equipment in the Edward Tennis Fitness Center located behind the high school. “ When I first got here, I had mentioned some concerns about some of the equipment in the weight room. Some of the benches and other equipment were just getting to too old and overused, and needed replaced. With the help of Mr. Mills (the athletic director) we were able to get in contact with some experts from InGear, an exercise equipment company in Podunk, and bring in some equipment that we felt could not only improve the safety of the weight room, but also help put our athletes over the top.” Some of the new equipment in the weight room can be found in the new weight lifting benches, cardio vascular machines such as treadmills and stationary bikes, and P’s favorite piece of equipment, the two machines referred to as functional trainers, machines that help athletes in all sports improve their speed, strength, and acceleration.
    “Community is the great thing about Middletown. There are a ton of people willing to lend a hand, help out here and there, and it’s always to help the kids get better, and that’s the best part.” A sense of community is what makes P proud to be a Blue Raider, and it’s his sense of hard work and dedication that makes his co-workers and coaching colleagues excited to have him in the strength and conditioning and teaching role he’s in. “Bob is just great, because he’s so dedicated to helping all athletes get better, regardless of whether they’re working out as a team, or as an individual. We would not have achieved the success we have the past two years without his dedication to helping our guys in the weight room.” Said boy’s basketball coach C, and his sentiments were echoed by two of his varsity coaching colleagues. “Coach P’s greatest asset is his knowledge of the weight room, and his ability to teach our student athletes the proper weight lifting techniques. He has a vast knowledge in the strength and conditioning field, and that allows him to design conditioning programs for our teams to cut down on injuries, which is key.” Girls basketball and soccer head coach H couldn’t say enough about P's dedication to success, saying, “He (P) puts countless hours in helping our athletes become more successful not just in-season, but year round.”
    It is often said that goal oriented people enjoy helping others reach their goals, and P is no acceptation. “My goals every day are to help our kids get better, and no matter what task they are attempting, if I, or we as a teaching body can help them, we are enabling them to go back and help the community, which is really what this is all about. Fitness is a large part of my life, and I hope through teaching and educating that I can help others feel that way as well. The fitter you are, the easier life is, and the easier it is to reach the goals you are striving for.”
  2. ringer

    ringer Member

    The lead is OK, but it would benefit from some sort of physical description of the guy. Is he fat, tall, does he wear a ragged cap...readers need to be able to picture him. At the end of the lead, I think you have to say very specifically what he does. Teaching and coaching isn't enough. Give a sport, at least.

    The rest of it, to be honest, feels like a long slog through his resume. If, for example, his first coaching job was so life changing, then pause there, tell people about it, and make readers undersand and believe it was really that powerful. Later on, when he says he's so passionate about his job -- why? Why does he think it's so great to be a trainer?

    I think you can probably find stronger quotes, too. They're too general. (Example: what trainer doesn't know his way around the weight room and work a lot of hours?)Why is this guy more special than any other trainer? Has he made teams go from losing to winning? Has the quarterback cut 3 seconds off his 40 time after working with this guy? Quantify, specify, tell us about his brutal machines or his methods.

    Lastly, remember to check your grammar...i.e. "a profession he grew affectionate to" "graduating as apart of the class of 1983" "while teaching them how to be physically fit and obtain it properly for the rest of their lives"

    I can tell you've done the research, so you've reported it well. Now the challenge is to make it compelling. It will require more time and phone calls, but it will be worth it.
  3. Greg Pickel

    Greg Pickel Member

    Thanks for the feedback Ringer! A picture will be with the article, hench no description. It is tough to say exactly what he does, but I will speak with him about that to get his view of what his title is. Quotes have been a rough go, what I've got so far has been through pulling teeth. I will try and use your comments to re-shape the piece and make it more compelling instead of seeming so monotone and dry. Thanks again!
  4. ringer

    ringer Member

    No problem. Happy to help.

    One idea that might save you time - is there any chance you can watch him work for an hour or so? Your observations might add color to the piece, support some of your points, and give you (and therefore your readers) a better sense of why people like him. You might even find that some of the coach-student banter you hear will be more illuminating than "pulling teeth" for quotes. Also, the more time you spend with him (especially in person), the more he might open up to you. Besides, it's fun to get away from the computer screen for a while.
  5. Greg Pickel

    Greg Pickel Member

    Check your PMs, sent some additional info.
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