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Sharks Host Annual High School Writers Day

by San Jose Sharks Staff / San Jose Sharks
Aspiring sports journalists were on hand Dec. 4 at HP Pavilion as the San Jose Sharks hosted their fourth annual High School Writers Day.

Eleven students from Bay Area high schools were selected and given the opportunity to experience a day in the life of a sports reporter during the Sharks game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

After eating a hearty meal in the press room, the students met with Ross McKeon of Yahoo! Sports and Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson.

McKeon talked to the students about his experiences covering sports and offered valuable advice. Wilson talked about his experiences in the hockey industry and also gave inspirational advice to the awestruck students.

“I enjoy this as much as playing,” said Wilson. “I haven’t lost my love for hockey, and the day that I do, I should get out of this job. You don’t do this unless you love it.”

After the informative question and answer session, the students were taken to their seats in press box above the raucous Sharks crowd to watch the game.

The students were then able to get a post-game interview with some players and watch as professional journalists interviewed head coach Todd McLellan.

“Everything they said, I pretty much took to heart because one of my passions is to write,” said Janet Huynh, a senior at Piedmont Hills. “All of their encouragement and advice really helped me to understand how to write better.”

“It’s a great opportunity for students who are interested in sports and who are interested in writing, to come in and experience a day in the life of a professional beat writer,” said Fan Development Coordinator Jeff Cafuir. “It gives them an idea of what goes on in the real world and it gives them some direction in a career path.”

After the event the writers were asked to submit an article recapping their experience. The winning article can be found below.

A group of aspiring journalists chats with Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson at the San Jose Sharks annual high school writers day.

By: Danielle Marchell (Presentation High School)

So, I’ve got a secret to share. I have a lot in common with the San Jose Sharks. Extremely competitive and in possession of a skin tone that is greatly complemented by the color teal, I failed to win during my own postseason, just as the Sharks did last year to the Dallas Stars. I was not selected to win the High School Writer’s Day last season, so this year I returned to the event ready to kick butt and take names.

Arriving at “Media Gate A” about twenty minutes early out of fear of being late, I sat nervously with about ten other high school students. Many awkward silences among the group caused me to feel a little like I was on a bad date. I was relieved to see Jeff Cafuir, Fan Development Coordinator for the San Jose Sharks, who handed us our media credentials to begin the evening.

Settling down in the press room to eat dinner, I couldn’t help but look around in awe. Writers and broadcasters that I admired surrounded me. To my right, I saw radio play-by-play announcer Dan Rusanowsky. Behind me was sideline reporter Kate Longworth. I began to wonder if the night had the potential to become even better.

After my dinner of a hot dog and a salad, we met up with Ross McKeon, the hockey writer for Yahoo! Sports, who was able to share the trials and tribulations of being a journalist. As an aspiring writer, I found his advice about what it takes to stay in the business very useful. He provided great insight on how to deal with criticism and said something that will surely stick with me for the rest of my career: just be yourself.

Just when I thought the night couldn’t possibly get any better, Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson waltzed in the room. I couldn’t believe I was granted the opportunity to interview Doug Wilson. Asking Wilson everything ranging from what types of players he looks for to why he loves hockey, I felt like I needed days to ask him all the questions I had in mind. I would just nod my head in approval to his responses, daydreaming what it would be like to be a fly on the wall during his conference calls with other general managers. There were so many other questions I longed for detailed answers to, but game time was rapidly approaching. Cafuir then ushered us up to the press box to watch the game, but had another surprise in store for us: we would have to walk across catwalks in order to get to our seats!

Walking to our seats wasn’t easy, but as a second-year veteran of the event, I had learned an important lesson from last year: don’t wear heels higher than a few inches. As the only female who dared to wear any form of heels, I inched along carefully, trying not to trip over wires. Feelings of deja-vu surrounded me, but I felt self-assured this time around that I would survive the long walk ahead of me.

Watching from the press box with professional writers was much different than enjoying the game from the comforts of my own leather couch. Trying to remain as professional as I could, I limited my celebration of each Sharks goal or solid shift with an under-the-table fist pump or the occasional rhythmic heel-tapping to “Rock and Roll Pt.2.”

As soon as the horn sounded the game’s conclusion, we were herded down to the area outside of the Sharks locker room to interview defensemen Dan Boyle and Douglas Murray. Scrambling through my notebook filled with illegible notes in order to find the proper questions to ask, I couldn’t believe that two of my favorite players were standing right in front of me. Hopefully that won’t be the last time I interview a professional hockey player.

Once our interviews with Boyle and Murray ended, I realized that the extraordinary experience was coming to a close. I was a little disheartened, but I realized that this only fueled the already-scorching fire within me to become a professional journalist.

Looking back on the event, there was one poignant quote from Doug Wilson that solidified my desire to pursue journalism in college: “We’ve shown we’re one of the top teams in the league. So we’ve shown a glimpse of what we’re capable of.” Well, I’ve shown a glimpse of what I’m capable of. Now, I’m ready to show I can be one of the top journalists in the industry. I guess you can chalk that up as another thing the Sharks and I have in common.

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