Fifteen years ago, I picked up The Sports News, a new monthly wrap-up on sports activities in our Niagara Falls community, at the grocery store. Having been raised in a household with five active brothers, I am a sports fanatic. As I sat down with a coffee to read up on the different events, I noticed an ad stating the magazine was in need of a sports writer.
I e-mailed my somewhat unimpressive resume to the editor. It consisted of an Associate Degree in English and a few clerical jobs before I became a stay-at-home mom of four. I included the few writing samples I had, which consisted of writing up my three sons’ hockey games for the local newspaper. Even more than a sports fanatic, I am an absolute groupie where my athletic sons are concerned. As I now re-read my clippings in their scrapbooks, my passion and enthusiasm for their games shines through.
Two weeks later, I was on my first official assignment.
I had never conducted an interview before but I’m insatiably curious, and have never been shy about asking questions. I was assigned the local ladies’ curling team, the one sport that I know nothing about, which worked in my favor. When I entered the rink with my half dozen basic questions on an index card, I found the curlers were grateful to have any publicity whatsoever. They were prepared to tell me anything in hopes of landing a sponsor. My editor was pleased with the result.
My second assignment was a dream come true – to talk with Martin Biron, back-up goalie for the Buffalo Sabres. My editor knew the media representative, and had no trouble getting me in after a practice. Once I cornered him in the locker room, Biron couldn’t have been sweeter. Brand new to the pros, he was thrilled to be interviewed.
I learned one thing from my editor. Don’t rely on a tape recorder; take great notes. Not only do you avoid any technical glitches, you keep involved with the answers instead of thinking, “I’ll write it all down later.” That was the best advice since, quite often, one answer can lead to a great and heretofore unthought-of question, but you have to hear that answer first.
I wrote for The Sports News for six months but, due to advertisers failing to pay their bills, it went under.
Luckily for me, the Sabres’ media rep remembered me when I called to try to set up an interview with Curtis Brown. He was an outspoken Christian and I knew I could sell his story to Sharing the Victory magazine. His story was amazing and seen internationally, which led to opening the door for me to call up other media reps for interviews and eventually becoming the sports writer for Faith & Friends magazine. I am now celebrating my tenth anniversary with them and loving every minute of it.
Jayne Thurber-Smith is an award-winning freelance writer for various outlets including Faith & Friends magazine, ofhorse.com and cbnsports.com. She and her husband’s favorite activity is being included in whatever their four adult children have going on. Check her out at: