Centershots: Behind the scenes, part one

Sophie McDonald
Sports Editor

 

Being sports editor of The Murray State News has its perks.

Come to think of it, the only downfall to the job is the whole “no cheering” rule when reporting on games – a glaringly horrendous negative on the list of pros and cons of the position, but one every sports writer in the world must deal with.

On the other side of the list, however, are some serious bright spots. Sports writers get to see things the everyday game attender might not see and experience relationships with the team not everyone gets the privilege to enjoy.

The following column is a look behind the scenes into a few things I’ve experienced as sports writer and editor. Most are about the men’s basketball team because I’m around them the most, but that is not to take away from any of the Racer athletic teams.

The following two moments are some of the most embarrassing of my (short) career.

For the love of embarrassment

First impressions

The beginning of last semester brought on a brand new list of ‘first time moments’ for me.

There was the whole first day of senior year, first time being Sports Editor and running the section while managing a staff, the first time eating Dunker’s Deli and the first time I interviewed men’s basketball Head Coach Steve Prohm.

Prohm, as most everyone knows, was hired in May after Coach Billy Kennedy took the same position at Texas A&M. I was super nervous about my first interview with the new head coach. However, I didn’t have any reason to be nervous. Coach Prohm ended up being one of the nicest, most accommodating people I had ever spoken to and when leaving his office after a lengthy interview, I was sure it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

At least until that night.

As I crawled into my dorm room bed with laptop and recorder in hand, I began preparing to transcribe the interview recorded inside Coach Prohm’s new office. In my head, I replayed the conversation with Prohm as I powered on the laptop and started a new Word document.

I stared at the blank sheet of white cyber-paper on screen as possibilities and story ideas coursed through my veins. I went to click the “play” button on the recorder but, in a twist of happenings I still don’t understand, I clicked “delete” and along with the interview recording, deleted any hope of a future professional relationship with Prohm.

It was after 10 p.m. but in my moment of panic all I could think to do was text Sports Information Director Dave Winder and confess my embarrassing mistake. He responded within minutes and told me mistakes happen, that I would learn from the incident and that Coach Prohm would call me the next day, which he did.

It was embarrassing but worked out perfectly fine in the end and since then Coach Prohm has jokingly asked me before interviews if I’ll delete this one. I laugh, but you better believe I now triple check before pushing any button on the recorder.

 

Oh, Green Bay

I was just a sports writer when this happened but it might be my all-time most embarrassing moment.

Last spring, a few weeks before the Super Bowl, I was assigned to write a feature story on Tim Masthay, the Murray High School grad playing on the Green Bay Packers NFL team.

For obvious reasons, I was pumped. This was the kind of story I had dreamed of writing – hometown boy turned famous, playing in the Super Bowl. The headline options flickered through my head as fast as my heart beat when I dialed the Packers’ media department. In a flurry of everything surreal, I left a message with the person in charge of public relations asking him to call me back.

The next morning I was sitting in John Dillon’s Mass Media Effects class in the lovely Wilson Hall when my phone vibrated as a Green Bay number glowed on the screen. I didn’t make it out of the classroom before missing the call, but sat in the hall staring at the screen, mentally begging the gentleman to leave a voicemail.

He did and I called back immediately but had to leave another message explaining I had been in class but would have my phone with me the rest of the day.

And it was definitely with me all day. I mean, how many times will the Green Bay Packers call someone back?

After classes I went to Hart Coffee Shop to unwind from the day. I was sipping coffee and reading my Bible before I had to use the restroom. It never hit me to take my phone because a.) the Packers hadn’t called in more than six hours and b.) I was going to the restroom.

Less than a minute later, I’m back on the cozy couch in the coffee shop, jamming to some tunes and writing out a prayer when I suddenly decide to check my phone and, to my horror, see a missed call – and no voicemail – from the media department of the Packers.

Prayer journal temporarily forgotten, I instantly redialed the Packers and left another, slightly panicked, message:

“Hey Mr. (I can’t remember his name), this is Sophie McDonald with The Murray State News again, I just saw where you called. I’m sorry I didn’t answer, but please know I’m taking this very seriously. Thank you for your patience, in your name we pray, amen.”

Then I hung up as my hand flew to my mouth, stared at the phone with mouth hanging open and broke out in a cold sweat.

What in the world had I just done? I had prayed on the Packers answering machine! Who does that?! This girl, apparently.

Gone were the hopes of ever talking to the Packers or Masthay and in its place were tears and an overwhelming weight of dread and embarrassment I’d never experienced before.

This little predicament, while uncomfortable and embarrassing on every level had a happy ending.

The Green Bay media department called me back, but only to say they don’t do interviews with student newspapers. However, if that were the case I can’t imagine them wasting their time calling three times and leaving multiple voicemails. I ended up emailing Masthay’s wife and talking to him via email and writing one of my favorite stories about the punter who kicked his way into a Super Bowl Championship.

I’ll never forget the story behind that story, either. From now on I plan on directing all my prayers to the Lord, not the Packers.

Amen.