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Is this worth anything?

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by spud, Jan 26, 2008.

  1. spud

    spud Member

    Just curious. This feature worth anything?



    The cupboards lay bare, save for a few unsupported books and a soccer ball proudly mounted on a small pedestal. Sheets of paper and stacks of three-ring binders collect in heaps around a spare coffee table piled with notes.

    Moving boxes are half-unpacked, and the new placard marking Marci Miller Jobson's new place of work hasn't yet been mounted on the door.

    Former All-Big 12 goalkeeper Ashley Noah filters in among the rubble, looking for cleats.

    Happy to comply, Jobson disappears into the bowels of the soccer building, telling Noah about the acclimation process and how some of the players are adjusting to the strenuous new training regimen, which until now has included copious amounts of running in the crisp winter air.

    In a minute she's back, ready to sift through what she is hoping is the continuation of her meteoric career rise.

    "The first thing we did was made sure that this building was a building that we could bring recruits into," said Jobson, who officially took over the soccer head coaching vacancy on Dec. 6. "We spent a week just cleaning and painting and kind of changing it a little bit so that it's a place that recruits come into and are proud and feel good about."

    The small office overlooking Betty Lou Mays Soccer Field and the new coat of paint on the walls represent a program in transition, one which is entering a new era under the direction of Jobson.

    She took over for former head coach George Van Linder, who compiled a five-year record of 31-52-9 and resigned immediately following the end of the 2007 season.

    Gone with him are the echoes of a poor sense of discipline and a five-year period without a post-season win and only one Big 12 tournament appearance.

    Enter Jobson, fresh off a two-year stint on the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team that ended just last summer. She also just wrapped up a three-year run as the head coach at Northern Illinois University. Jobson guided the school to its best finish in nine years last season and took the school to a pair of Midwestern Athletic Conference Tournament appearances in her time there. That included a trip to the tournament championship game as the No. 7 seed in 2005.

    Jobson and her newly formed coaching staff, including husband Paul, are currently courting new recruits and putting together a stratagem for the upcoming season. She brought her three-person team with her from Northern Illinois, all of whom she said she's known for years.

    Paul's role in particular will be one of importance. As the team's associate head coach, he is tasked with the team's finances, putting together recruiting visits, booking travel and managing office organization.

    Having a wife with national team experience doesn't hurt the resume either.

    And yet the two still have to bat away criticism charged toward a husband-wife duo coaching on the same staff.

    "I'm sure there are some people that are skeptical at first," Jobson said. "It's definitely not for everybody, but you're going to get the same work ethic. Sometimes we have to take a step back, but other than that, we've coached together before and I think it works really well."

    By her own admonition, Jobson was never the quickest or most athletic player on the field. It was her dedicated work ethic and a desire to contribute that fueled her rise to the pinnacle of US women's soccer.

    That attitude, coupled with an increased focus on conditioning, discipline and organization, will guide a Lady Bears squad that hasn't had a winning record since 2000.

    "I definitely know the hard work that it takes to succeed," Jobson said. "One thing I'm trying to teach them is that there are no shortcuts to becoming great, so anyone who expects Baylor to be turned around in a couple months are crazy."

    Adding to her workmanlike reputation, Jobson split her time between the national team and her gig at Northern Illinois, where she rebuilt that program from ashes to a 10-5-5 squad last season.

    The search committee did its best to keep the team involved in the direction of the inquiry. They polled the players on qualities they look for in a coaching staff, not the least of which was more discipline, and gave the players updates when possible.

    "Touching on the characteristics we talked about (in a desired head coach), a lot of them were discipline and someone who is going to hold us to higher expectations," said junior forward Amanda McGrath, who tore a ligament in her right knee on Sept. 16 and is targeting an early fall comeback after undergoing her second surgery two weeks ago. "And they definitely, definitely do that."

    Still, being in the dark on such an important decision was not an easy transition.

    Even more so because the team loses eight players to graduation this year, including Noah.

    "It was just kind of weird because we didn't have a coach for a month," said junior midfielder Andi Fagan, one of just three returning seniors next season. "There was a question of what was going to happen to us because we had to lead the team."

    Jobson doesn't see these concerns as odd or even out of place.

    "They're probably a little bit nervous and a little intimidated," said Jobson, who became the second-oldest US women's soccer player to earn her first appearance in 2005. "We have very high expectations in terms of how we train. We're just trying to teach them a culture of what it means to get to the next level."

    Jobson said she expects it to take a year to lay the foundation of her program from a recruiting and coaching angle. And she won't be getting any help from a roster that sports only enough healthy players to field a team with one player in reserve.

    "I think we have, right now, 12 healthy players," Jobson said. "The challenge is that when you start this job, you're starting at an odd time of the year in terms of recruiting, but I feel good about the recruits that George (Van Linder) got for me. The challenge is always going to be laying your foundation to improve your program."

    For Jobson and company, they don't expect that foundation to be solidified for another year.

    But given enough time, she is defiantly confident that those boxes will remain unpacked for a very long time.
     
  2. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    My comments are below.

    In your second graf, I'd replace "the new placard" with "the nameplate". I'd also mention here the school where she's taking over. It's buried too deeply right now.

    IINM, postseason is one word, not hyphenated.

    I HATE using the word "strategem" for a sports feature. Most of the people reading it either have no idea what this means or they know and they're trying to get away from business jargon. Use something simpler like "plan."

    I'd take out "one of importance" for Paul's role and replace it with "vital".

    "By her own admonition" should be "By her own admission".

    Down here:
    You repeat the "it will take a year to lay the foundation" thought two grafs apart. Pick one to chop.

    One other comment from reading the piece, I think you might benefit from getting a quote from someone who's put off by the idea of a husband and wife team coaching. You might also benefit from quoting Paul about working with his wife and whether that led to problems at their previous coaching gig.

    I think you have potential with this.
     
  3. verbalkint

    verbalkint Member

    Spud-

    Not everyone writes features in their free time, so I'll assume this has already been published. Still, I gave you detailed edits, maybe for your purpose, maybe for my own. My edits are in all caps.

    The cupboards lay bare, save for a few unsupported books and a soccer ball proudly mounted on a small pedestal. Sheets of paper and stacks of three-ring binders collect in heaps around a spare coffee table piled with notes. GOOD. BUT BLOW-UP THE DETAIL: WHAT BOOKS? SOCCER STRATEGY? ARE THE SHEETS OF PAPER JUST PAPERWORK BS, OR ARE THEY X-AND-O DIAGRAMS? WHAT ARE THE NOTES? WHY IS THE BALL PROUDLY MOUNTED?

    Moving boxes are half-unpacked, and the new placard marking Marci Miller Jobson's new place of work hasn't yet been mounted on the door. (SWITCH "OFFICE" FOR "PLACE OF WORK.")

    Former All-Big 12 goalkeeper Ashley Noah filters in among the rubble, looking for cleats. (AND ASKS JOBSON ABOUT A NEW PAIR OF CLEATS.)

    Happy to comply, Jobson disappears into the bowels of the soccer building, telling Noah about the acclimation process and how some of the players are adjusting to the strenuous new training regimen, which until now has included copious amounts of running in the crisp winter air. HERE YOU HAVE ONE SENTENCE WHEN YOU COULD HAVE TWO OR THREE. SHOW US THE RUNNING? WHERE ARE THEY RUNNING? IS IT EARLY IN THE MORNING? ALSO, GIVE US THE DIALOGUE. DON’T SAY SHE TOLD NOAH – JUST QUOTE THE EXCHANGE.

    In a minute she's back, ready to sift through what she is hoping is the continuation of her meteoric career rise. WORDY, MAYBE UNNECESSARY… ALMOST LIKE SAYING, “THEN SHE CAME BACK AND I INTERVIEWED HER.” JUST BRING HER BACK INTO THE OFFICE, MAYBE DESCRIBE HER MOOD – TIRED? ANXIOUS? -- AND GO RIGHT INTO THE QUOTE.

    "The first thing we did was made sure that this building was a building that we could bring recruits into," said Jobson, who officially took over the soccer head coaching vacancy on Dec. 6. "We spent a week just cleaning and painting and kind of changing it a little bit so that it's a place that recruits come into and are proud and feel good about." THIS MAKES ME CURIOUS – WAS IT ACTUALLY COACHES IN THERE CLEANING AND PAINTING? COULD BE A COOL IMAGE.

    The small office overlooking Betty Lou Mays Soccer Field and the new coat of paint on the walls represent a program in transition, one which is entering a new era under the direction of Jobson. (DITCH "ONE WHICH IS ENTERING A NEW ERA UNDER THE DIRECTION OF JOBSON.")

    She took over for former head coach George Van Linder, who compiled a five-year record of 31-52-9 and resigned immediately following the end of the 2007 season.

    Gone with him are the echoes of a poor sense of discipline and a five-year period without a post-season win and only one Big 12 tournament appearance. (NOT BAD WRITING, BUT I'M NOT SURE IT HOLDS UP... THE ECHOES AREN'T GONE -- YOU'RE QUOTING THEM LATER IN THE STORY. "GONE WITH HIM ARE THE ISSUES"?)

    Enter Jobson, fresh off a two-year stint on the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team that ended just last summer. (DITCH JUST) She also just wrapped up a three-year run as the head coach at Northern Illinois University. (TIMELINE MUDDLED: WAS IT THREE YEARS AT NIU, THEN 2 WITH WOMEN’S TEAM? OR SIMALATENOUS?) Jobson guided the school to its best finish in nine years last season and took the school to a pair of Midwestern Athletic Conference Tournament appearances in her time there. (DITCH “TOOK THE SCHOOL TO” AND “IN HER TIME THERE”.) That included a trip to the tournament championship game as the No. 7 seed in 2005. (I ASSUME THEY LOST, BUT YOU WANT TO MAKE IT CLEAR.)

    Jobson and her newly formed coaching staff, including husband Paul, are currently courting new recruits and putting together a stratagem for the upcoming season. (NEED PAUL’S LAST NAME.) She brought her three-person team with her from Northern Illinois, all of whom she said she's known for years. (WEAK AS A “SHE SAID”… REWRITE BY JUST SAYING HOW LONG THE CORE HAS WORKED TOGETHER... ALSO, DID SHE KEEP ANY OF THE OLD COACHES, OR WAS IT A FULL SWITCH?)

    Paul's role in particular will be one of importance. As the team's associate head coach, he is tasked with the team's finances, putting together recruiting visits, booking travel and managing office organization. (THIS MAKES HIM SOUND LIKE A TEAM MANAGER. DOES HE WORK WITH PLAYERS, TOO?)

    Having a wife with national team experience doesn't hurt the resume either. (DITCH.)

    And yet the two still have to bat away criticism charged toward a husband-wife duo coaching on the same staff. (THIS IS 21 WORDS WHEN YOU NEED 10 OR 12. “They will have to answer criticism of a husband-wife coaching system.”)

    "I'm sure there are some people that are skeptical at first," Jobson said. "It's definitely not for everybody, but you're going to get the same work ethic. Sometimes we have to take a step back, but other than that, we've coached together before and I think it works really well." (UNCLEAR WHETHER IT’S HUSBAND OR WIFE TALKING)

    By her own admonition, Jobson was never the quickest or most athletic player on the field. (JOBSON ADMITS…) It was her dedicated work ethic and a desire to contribute that fueled her rise to the pinnacle of US women's soccer. (BIT FLUFFY)

    That attitude, coupled with an increased focus on conditioning, discipline and organization, will guide a Lady Bears squad that hasn't had a winning record since 2000. (STILL FLUFF. I THINK EVERY TEAM WANTS THOSE THINGS. BE SPECIFIC: MORE RUNNING AT PRACTICE, LONGER PRACTICES, LONGER TEAM MEETINGS, A NEW OFFENSE OR DEFENSIVE IDEOLOGY…)

    "I definitely know the hard work that it takes to succeed," Jobson said. "One thing I'm trying to teach them is that there are no shortcuts to becoming great, so anyone who expects Baylor to be turned around in a couple months are crazy." (DITCH THE FIRST LINE. I’D WRITE IT, “Marci Jobson has taught her players that there are no shortcuts to better results. ‘Anyone who expects Baylor to be turned around in a couple months are crazy,’ she said.”)

    Adding to her workmanlike reputation, Jobson split her time between the national team and her gig at Northern Illinois, where she rebuilt that program from ashes to a 10-5-5 squad last season. (THAT CLEARS IT UP. I WANTED THIS VERSION CLOSER TO THE TOP.)

    The search committee did its best to keep the team involved in the direction of the inquiry. They polled the players on qualities they look for in a coaching staff, not the least of which was more discipline, and gave the players updates when possible.

    "Touching on the characteristics we talked about (in a desired head coach), a lot of them were discipline and someone who is going to hold us to higher expectations," said junior forward Amanda McGrath, who tore a ligament in her right knee on Sept. 16 and is targeting an early fall comeback after undergoing her second surgery two weeks ago. "And they definitely, definitely do that."

    Still, being in the dark on such an important decision was not an easy transition.

    Even more so because the team loses eight players to graduation this year, including Noah.

    "It was just kind of weird because we didn't have a coach for a month," said junior midfielder Andi Fagan, one of just three returning seniors next season. "There was a question of what was going to happen to us because we had to lead the team."

    Jobson doesn't see these concerns as odd or even out of place.

    "They're probably a little bit nervous and a little intimidated," said Jobson, who became the second-oldest US women's soccer player to earn her first appearance in 2005. "We have very high expectations in terms of how we train. We're just trying to teach them a culture of what it means to get to the next level." (CILCHE – DITCH LAST TWO SENTENCES OF QUOTE.)

    Jobson said she expects it to take a year to lay the foundation of her program from a recruiting and coaching angle. And she won't be getting any help from a roster that sports only enough healthy players to field a team with one player in reserve.

    "I think we have, right now, 12 healthy players," Jobson said. "The challenge is that when you start this job, you're starting at an odd time of the year in terms of recruiting, but I feel good about the recruits that George (Van Linder) got for me. The challenge is always going to be laying your foundation to improve your program."

    For Jobson and company, they don't expect that foundation to be solidified for another year. (JOBSON DOESN’T EXPECT)

    But given enough time, she is defiantly confident that those boxes will remain unpacked for a very long time. (DITCH “DEFIANTLY”)

    This is a good story. If it were going to a rewrite, I’d say the theme is change. I like the idea that they came in with these new ideas, and then when they got to the office, they didn’t even like the old paint. Images of her coming into an empty office with boxes, what she chooses to put on the walls, hauling old stuff to the dumpster, which things they left as they were. (If anything.) Theses are symbolic things, but they make the place hers. Also, I think you needed more on her playing career, because that’s the first thing her team thinks: “She played on the national team.” Also, I like the husband-wife angle. Finally I'd say it's a bit quote-heavy. If you hear something and it's not very interesting to you, it'll be uninteresting to your readers. Trust your own words. Anyway, not everyone starts a story about the new soccer coach describing a mess in her office, so this is good work.

    Hope this helps. Thanks for contributing.
     
  4. dawgpounddiehard

    dawgpounddiehard Active Member

    Good job on a new coach story. I like your ability to use description.

    My only suggestion is to watch your word usage. Why pick "placard" over "nameplate" for example? Good writing isn't using big words. You're description is simple and paint the picture faster and easier for your audience with words easily comprehendible.
     
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