Over Spring Break I spent the week reporting on the Mets for ESPN Gainesville. I also commentated on a Tampa Bay Rays game. An illuminating week at Spring Training really showed me that I have what it takes to make it in sports journalism.
My trip started on Saturday, March 12th, as I left my parents house for beautiful Port St. Lucie. I took the three hour drive to strategize my reporting itinerary, working out what I wanted to do with The Ringer’s “The Big Picture” blaring in the background.
I had to do a gamer, which I would do on the first day. I figured I would also live Tweet the game while I was there. I set aside a personal day the next day, which I would use to work on my Sports Capstone project, a podcast called “Talking Points with Connor O’Bryan” (shameless plug). Tuesday my parents would attend Mets-Cardinals with me, where I would take pictures for a photo gallery. Wednesday I would attend another Mets game, before leaving for Tampa to prep for my broadcast with Ethan Eibe. Thursday was the broadcast at Tropicana stadium, and Friday I would drive home.
I also set aside time for fun. I went to Jensen Beach one morning, where I watched the sunrise and read a Jeff Pearlman book. That Monday night I went to Pop Stroke with my parents, and really got to cherish my time with them. When I had other free time, I watched movies and the NCAA Tournament.
I met great people throughout my stay. Both at Clover Park and throughout the rest of Port St. Lucie, the people were incredibly kind. Port St. Lucie is the kind of place where everyone says hello to you, where if you get on an elevator you leave with a conversation and a full heart.
This experience taught me that I have what it takes to make it in journalism. I have been told that I am a good writer in the past, and my articles have been noticed by other journalists that I really admire. But Spring Training showed me that I have what it takes to go to the ballpark day-in and day-out. I can be a serious sports reporter.
And I think I did a good job reporting. I got good feedback on my gamer, and I did a great interview with a Mets fan that I put into my Starling Marte piece. I think I did pretty good on my first foray into color commentary, and it really helped having Ethan Eibe there to steer the ship.
If I could do this experience over differently I would not assume that Wednesday’s game would get rained out, because it didn’t. I missed five innings pitched by Justin Verlander, where he threw eight strikeouts. That might remain on the bucket list forever.
My struggles mostly came with getting press credentials, but I just bought tickets to the game and reported from fan seating. I had a blast doing this. While it would have been really beneficial to network in the press box, I wouldn’t have changed this aspect of my trip.
Overall I had a blast, and leave with the knowledge that I have what it takes to be a sports reporter.