Maybe I’ll go back to high school

by Brian Keaney

Kevin Brennan shoots

For the past couple months I’ve been covering local sports for Patch to make an extra couple of bucks.  It’s not a ton of money, but it’s something, and I enjoy it.  I’ve never written sports before, so it’s been an interesting experience.  I’m reading the sports pages a lot more closely now instead of just browsing the box scores and the occasional columnist.

I’ve learned far more about myself than I ever expected as well.  This winter I’ve covered mostly hockey games, and seeing them I’ve been thinking about how much I miss it.  I was never any good at it, but I always had a good time.  I have joined a 3-D dodgeball league that begins in a few weeks, but next winter I might have to strap on the skates again.

At a recent game another reporter struck up a conversation with me between periods.  She was young, so I assumed – correctly, as it turned out – that she was in college and working as a stringer.  After the game we were formally introduced, and the name rang a bell.  “Wait a minute,” said I.  “Were you the editor of The Mirror?”

The Mirror was my high school’s student newspaper, and where I got my start in journalism.  Aside from the Senior Class Play, it was probably the most fun thing I did in high school.  It’s also really where I began to hone my writing skills, and that’s served me well over the years. From our brief conversations I surmised that this girl was studying journalism, and it took some effort on my part to refrain from talking her out of it.

I don’t think the news industry is dying, but the patient is certainly in rough shape.  It won’t look the same when she’s my age, but who knows, that could be a good thing.  For her sake I hope in 10 years she isn’t still standing in the coldest rink in the league covering high school hockey games.  If she is, then I at least hope it’s as a part timer making extra cash like myself, but I’m not sure that will be the case.

Tonight I covered my first basketball game.  If hockey is my game of choice to play, then basketball is clearly my favorite to watch.  I’ll watch just about anything, but I’ve watched far more basketball games than any other.

I can count on one hand the number of home games I missed in four years of college.  Once I had a class that I absolutely could not miss, but I still opened up the webcast and watched online.  There was a group of a dozen or so of us who, game after game, sat in the same seats the bird cage, as someone tried to brand the student section of the bleachers.

This group of us would taunt the hell out of the other team – and the officials if we didn’t like the way the calls were going.  We would usually identify one player on the opposing team and pick on him throughout the game.  They wouldn’t always show it, but we almost always could get into their heads.

During one particular game I sat directly in front of Fr. Bob, the campus chaplain.  I was so incensed at a call that was badly blown that I yelled out something I’m not particularly proud of, but still makes me chuckle.  There was dead silence for a second after I said it, and then those around me erupted in laughter.  I’m not sure if they were laughing with me, or at the fact that Fr. Bob gave me a slap upside the head hard enough to sting.  It was probably a little bit of both, though someone behind me did say “Way to go, Keaney.  I’m going to hell just because I laughed at that.”

Greg Reardon drives to the net.

I mention it because there was a good size crowd of students at tonight’s game.  They were generally in it for the first half, but as their team started falling further and further behind they began sitting on their hands.  No matter how far behind their team was, there was one way to get them riled up.  They took a shine to one of the JV players and would cheer for him even when he wasn’t on the court.

They were mostly backhanded ovations, to be sure, but you should have heard them when he took a three during the varsity game.  It looked good, but ultimately  bounced out.  Had it gone in I’m sure they would have gone absolutely ape.  I don’t quite know why they would choose to hound one of their own players beyond some typical high school hazing, but I was praying for a trey just to give the kid some honest cheers.  I’m sure it would have felt good.

My editor also required that I purchase a camera if I wanted to continue covering games.  It was an expense I didn’t need, but a nice camera is something I’ve long wanted anyway.  I could never justify the expense of going out and buying it on my own, though.    I was photography editor of The Mirror, and I’ve enjoyed it ever since, even if I didn’t have too many opportunities to take photos.

In fact, I’ve found I like taking the pictures more than I like writing up the stories.  My current outfit doesn’t have photogs – the reporter is expected to do it all – but after I get better and build up a portfolio and some better equipment, I wouldn’t mind trying to get a job doing freelance sports photography for one of the other local rags.

Who knew I could learn so much by going back to high school?