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New sports writer looking for some feedback

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by knabhan, Jan 3, 2016.

  1. knabhan

    knabhan New Member


    I'm currently a freshman in college and decided my major was going to be Mass Communications with an emphasis on print journalism. In high school, I never wrote articles but was always super intrigued by sports. I took up a position in my university as a sports writer and then got promoted to the assistant sports editor by the time first semester finished. I'm looking for some feedback on a few of my articles thus far. My semester was mainly filled with covering Division I hockey and the occasional feature story as well. I have attached both one of my feature stories and one game recap as well. Any feedback would be great!


    When faced with adversity, few choose to embrace and overcome their challenges. For Georgia high schooler and St. Cloud State wrestling recruit Devon Berry, his entire life has been one of persistence and determination. Berry and his twin sister were born with complications, which led to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy for Devon at the age of 3.

    For Berry, giving up has never been an option. He’s a tri-sport athlete at Hampton High School in metro Atlanta who recently signed a wrestling scholarship to wrestle at reigning NCAA DII national champion St. Cloud State. Berry will attend St. Cloud State next fall, joining a wrestling team that contends for the NCAA Division II national title year after year.

    “I’ve always said that having confidence is the start of having success and in order to be something you have to do something,” said Berry, when discussing his overcoming of adversity to receive his wrestling scholarship. “I lost almost all of my matches in middle school and in high school I decided I didn’t want to be the minority anymore.”

    Having to use a walker or a wheelchair to move hasn’t held Berry back. His immense upper body strength has helped him wrestle his way to becoming a 2 time area champion and a #3 ranking in the state. Berry credits his ability to his work ethic, his guidance from his mother, and most importantly, his faith in God.

    Berry first caught the media spotlight in 2012 when he was recognized for his courageous effort on the football field. A defensive lineman for the Hampton High School Hornets, Berry doesn’t let his cerebral palsy stop him from playing the sports that he loves. The Atlanta Falcons recently honored Devon, making him an honorary captain for their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 1st. ESPN will be airing a feature about Berry on their investigative journalism show E:60 on December 15th at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

    “When I first got to high school, people were always telling me I couldn’t compete, but God said yes for the battle is not yours, but God’s,” Berry mentioned when discussing his profound faith. Berry has marched to a 100-25 record in his wrestling career and hopes to continue that success at St. Cloud State.

    “I want to change the [student] body at St. Cloud State,” he says. “I want to make St. Cloud State know that it is okay to be disabled and that it is okay to be different. That’s how God made you.”

    Just how does Devon manage to accomplish everything?

    “I chose hard work over talent,” he says. “I started ignoring the negativity and started listening and thinking positively.”

    Academics haven’t taken a backseat for Berry either. He is also an honors student with a 3.7 GPA. He plans to study broadcast journalism at St. Cloud State, citing famed sports journalist Stephen A. Smith and the late Stuart Scott as his inspirations. He hopes to become a sports commentator for ESPN one day.

    Berry also hopes to minor in theology, so he can continue to inspire and teach others about his faith. Berry is not only an inspiration on the field, but to everyone who has had the pleasure of meeting him.

    “Devon is an incredibly hard worker with a great attitude and strong determination,” said Britt Morton, athletic director at Hampton High School. “He is an inspiration to [his] coach.”

    The recruiting process was relatively harmless for Berry. “I was proactive,” he said. “I emailed [St. Cloud State] coach Costanzo just for the interest and found myself very interested. I was offered a scholarship the next day.”

    Berry will wrestle at the 125 pound weight class for the Huskies and hopes to become the first disabled NCAA Division II national champion. He gains motivation from disabled NCAA Division I national champion Anthony Robles, who won a national championship despite having only one leg.

    Beyond the wrestling mat, Devon Berry is more than just a gifted athlete. He’s a hard-working, driven, inspirational individual with a heart of gold who refuses to let his disability affect him. Beneath it all lies a contagious smile and positivity that illuminates every room that he enters. And that’s just how remarkable of a human being Devon Berry truly is.


    The St. Cloud State Huskies (6-2-0, 2-0-0 NCHC) completed the sweep over the Miami RedHawks (3-4-1, 0-2-0 NCHC) Saturday night on a matchup at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.

    The Miami RedHawks came out firing, a big improvement from their performance the night before. The RedHawks led in shots 14-6 through the first period Saturday, after only gaining 15 shots on the net during their 3-0 loss Friday night.

    Miami struck first, scoring off a backhander 12:05 into the first period when Jack Roslovic snuck the puck behind Huskies goaltender Charlie Lindgren to give the RedHawks a 1-0 lead. The momentum wouldn’t last, with the Huskies defense quickly tightening up.

    Penalties proved to be a non-factor once again, with both team’s power plays finishing 0-2. The Huskies continue to struggle on power plays, with their season total falling to 3-25 (.120 percent). Even with the offensive struggles, the defense has performed even better against power plays. Lindgren and the Huskies’ robust defense have only allowed two goals off of 24 penalties, which ranks top 10 in the entire nation.

    The Huskies would completely shift the momentum in the second period, getting past RedHawks goaltender Jay Williams three times.

    Freshman Mikey Eyssimont got his first collegiate goal off a shot through the 5-hole of Williams 3:49 into the second period to tie things up. Patrick Russell would give the Huskies the lead off a rebound goal late in the second period. St. Cloud State wasn’t done there, as senior forward Kalle Kossila weaved through the RedHawks’ defense and finish top-shelf to give the Huskies a 3-1 lead to end the second period.

    “If we stick to our gameplan, good things will happen to us,” stated Eyssimont, regarding the team’s momentum change going into the second period.

    Miami couldn’t answer back in the final period, falling to the Huskies 3-1 and suffering their first sweep of the season.

    “It’s always huge to sweep, especially after last weekend where we got swept,” said Russell. “It’s good to know we can respond.”

    Huskies goaltender Charlie Lindgren had another strong performance, saving 33 shots including two scoreless periods to complement a strong defensive effort.

    “In my eyes, one of the best goalies in the nation, [Lindgren],” said Eyssimont. “He’s never happy with a game unless it’s a shutout.”

    With the win, the Huskies improve to 4-0-0 at home while outscoring their opposition 13-1 in that span.

    The Huskies have a bye-week before traveling to Kalamazoo, Michigan for a series against Western Michigan. After that series, the Huskies return home for a big series against #1 North Dakota November 20-21.
  2. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Didn't ESPN do a story on this on Christmas? Uplifting, gripping, enthralling story.
  3. knabhan

    knabhan New Member

    Yes. My story was published before any news of an ESPN story, but it was featured on there recently. He told me personally that ESPN was going to do a story on him in a month, and was very excited for it. Awesome kid. He's wrestling at the school I attend, so I've known about him for a while now.
  4. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Hi Knab,

    In general, you want the reader to be able to picture in your mind the story you are telling them. So I want to know how it works for this guy in sports.

    What does he do to overcome his -- what -- lack of leg strength?

    Does he have favorite moves in wrestling? Things he avoids?

    I have seen guys in wheelchairs wrestle. A teammate would carry him onto the mat or he would crawl on his hands. Describe something like that rather than the more generic "work ethic." I can't really picture work ethic in my mind.

    Good luck.
  5. WritersOnTheStorm

    WritersOnTheStorm New Member

    Hi Knabhan,

    You write very well for a freshman. Ace gave you a good feature critique. I'll tackle the gamer, and these suggestions apply across any sport, not just hockey.

    * Eighth paragraph is too low for the final score. Should be first or second. Every time. Don't make readers work that hard.

    * What happened in the first period isn't relevant enough to be your second paragraph. That's something you can tweet for people following live, but it's stale by the time your story appears. Better to use it only if you're going to follow with something on the game as a whole: Miami had 14 shots on goal in the first period alone, only one fewer than in all of Friday's loss, and 34 for the game. But goalie Charlie Lindgren shut out the RedHawks after they took an early 1-0 lead. "He's never happy with a game unless it's a shutout," freshman Mikey Essiymont said.

    * We don't know your deadline situation, but if you have the time it might be better to focus on one of the less nuts-and-bolts angles. The keeper and his standards is a good one. The freshman scoring his first goal could be. A three-goal second period could be. St. Cloud picked sixth in preseason and opening conference play by sweeping the '15 tourney champion could be. Always think of one game in terms of how it fits into the bigger picture.

    * As a rule, use "said" for "said" every time. Even if it's boring. "Stated" shouldn't be used. Or exclaimed, chortled, opined ... "said" works just fine.

    * Again, very solid, especially for a freshman. Best of luck to you.
  6. knabhan

    knabhan New Member

    Hey, thanks WritersOnTheStorm and Ace for the feedback. Writing is a craft that can always be improved, so thank you for the comments. I will definitely use these as I continue on my path. Thank you!
  7. BDC99

    BDC99 Well-Known Member

    Bookmarked. Way too late now but I'll give them a read and chime in tomorrow.
  8. knabhan

    knabhan New Member

    Thank you!
  9. BDC99

    BDC99 Well-Known Member

    Will be glad to help. Not enough guidance in the biz these days. Like what I see in skimming it quickly and you've gotten some good advice already I see. I've heard Ace is good enough to work at the Plain-Dealer! :)
    Ace likes this.
  10. knabhan

    knabhan New Member

    Right. Guidance is why I joined the forums. I've found myself critiquing my work heavily lately and wanted some feedback from professionals, hehe. Thank you once again!
    BDC99 likes this.
  11. BDC99

    BDC99 Well-Known Member

    OK, knab, I don't have much to add that hasn't already been covered. Your feature is good, but it leaves me wondering what sort of challenge this guy has faced, as Ace said. Other than telling me he has cerebral palsy, I don't get any sense of what he deals with, on or off the mat. And as for the game story, PBP is fine if you only have a short space to fill, but you really need to find a hook for the lead. Key play, key scorer or the goalie, as WritersontheStorm suggested. Also, never, ever put a score in your story before you state the final score. WOTS mentioned the score in his critique, and I STILL had trouble finding it. Your main goal in a game story is who won, who lost and what was the score? That should be in the second paragraph or so unless you are writing more of a feature-y type gamer. And even then, get it up high. Your writing is good, especially for a young writer, but you need to work on organizing things. It will come with practice and with critiques. Keep posting your stuff here, and some of us will be glad to help when we have the time.
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