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The tale of a simple sports reporter turned Chief

By Mark Smith
Posted on April 30, 2013 | Columns,Opinion | Comments Off on The tale of a simple sports reporter turned Chief

I have a confession to make. During my first semester at ACU, I rarely read the Optimist. I didn’t find it interesting. I didn’t care about administration changes, campus events or what the editorial board thought about iPads in the classroom. I was happy to be an ignorant, happy, social freshman journalism major with visions of ESPN employment dancing in his head and friends who weren’t allowed to dance. Journalism could wait. The Optimist could wait.

I didn’t go to class enough and I complained about how busy I was. Truly, I wasn’t busy, I was just bad at studying when I needed to study and sleeping when I needed to sleep. I brought home straight Bs to begin Christmas break, which, if I kept that pace, would mean I would lose my scholarship.

Then, the Optimist came to the rescue.

I got an email from the Optimist in February of freshman year. The publication was looking for sports writers. I figured, “Eh, why not. We’re required to work there for two semesters anyway.”

It ended up working out.

The best part about writing for sports was the worst part: the pressure to turn a story around quickly and consistently twice a week. I usually got my assignment about 24 hours before it was due, which meant I needed to work around my “busy” schedule. I had to turn in my story by 5 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday, and I did. Homework would come after, or sometimes during, and I did it. I slept better and studied harder because I now had a limited amount of time to do so.

My grades went up.

The Optimist adviser, Dr. Kenneth Pybus, emailed me soon after I started writing, inviting me to something called TIPA. I went to the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association convention on a whim, and mostly to be excused from classes for two days.

It ended up working out.

I won one contest, got second in the other. Afterward, as I continued to write sports, I expected to move up to assistant sports editor the next semester.

Then Pybus emailed me again to talk about working on staff. He asked me if I would want to be managing editor. I was flattered because I didn’t realize he only asked me because no one wanted to do it. So I accepted.

It ended up working out.

It was definitely a learning experience. I needed a big learning curve in the news writing, newsworthiness deciphering and page designing areas. But I got good at it and decided I’d apply to be editor-in-chief for the 2012-13 school year.

It ended up working out.

Not that this school year has been easy. Not at all. But if I had to do it all over again, I’d do it all again (Yogi Berra). I have truly enjoyed working here and serving the student body the best way I could. I couldn’t ask for better advisers or coworkers. I’m proud of them and the publication, especially after winning overall excellence and best all-around contests in state and regional competitions.

The Optimist has given more than a job and a resume makeover, though. It’s given responsibility, knowledge, experience and good time management. It prepared me for the real world better than most classrooms have. JMC majors, apply. Work here, even if it’s unpaid. It’s a good teacher, a good environment and good experience.

avatar Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 30th, 2013 and filed under Columns, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.  - This post has been viewed 18312 times.

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