We asked our amazing #SSJC17 alumni to share their MSU memories and advice for current Sports JRN students. Thanks to all who contributed – great stuff!
Brady Clyma, Fox Sports Detroit
Spartan sports memory: TJ Duckett’s TD reception in the 2001 game vs. Michigan. Even though I wasn’t a student (graduated in 1994), it’s a great memory from East Lansing!
Being a Spartan in Sports Media means: The honor of representing an entire alumni group from the Comm building! It’s important to me to show that MSU grads are more than prepared to have a successful career in sports.
Advice: Recent grads shouldn’t be “dead-set” on getting that dream job right out of school. For example, sometimes you have to take an entry-level position in group sales with a sports team, but at least you have a foot in the door and can work your way into the department that appeals to you.
Ben Phlegar, MSU Athletic Communications
Spartan sports memory: Rose Bowl week vs. Stanford
Being a Spartan in Sports Media means: I’m honored to be working for a school with such a proud and rich athletic tradition.
Alex Scharg, Visioned Media
Spartan sports memory: Winning the Rose Bowl
Being a Spartan in Sports Media means: It means being a part of an elite program full of elite, alumni talent.
Advice? Stepping outside the box of journalism, and learn as much as you can about related fields to help you in your journalism journey.
Stephen Brooks, YourGoshenNews.com
Spartan sports memory: Covering the 2014 Rose Bowl as a football reporter for The State News. Personally and professionally it was incredibly rewarding as both a lifelong college football fan and an aspiring journalist eager to cover games of that magnitude regularly.
Being a Spartan in Sports Media means: I feel a responsibility to maintain the highest standards of quality and professionalism to show that Michigan State has/can/will continue to produce outstanding journalists. Graduates of brand-name J-schools (Missouri, Northwestern, Syracuse, etc.) have doors opened for them simply because of the name on their diploma. I desperately want MSU to achieve that same recognition and universal acclaim, so I take great pride in doing my part.
Advice: Get experience of any kind as soon as possible. MSU offers so many opportunities on campus (for radio, print or TV) that there’s absolutely no reason to not have published work samples by the time you become an upperclassman. From there, try to leverage that into experience with a professional outlet before you graduate.
Harold Shelton, Big Ten Network
Spartan sports memory: As a student, it was 2001 MSU vs. UM football game. Overall, football team winning the 2013 Big Ten Championship game (I was on the sideline for work and it was awesome).
Being a Spartan in Sports Media means: It means a lot to be a Spartan, in general, and I like being able to represent us in this field. I’ve worked with lots of former Michigan players on TV and Michigan fans behind the scenes so it’s good to be able to create a balance and make sure things aren’t one-sided.
Advice: I would always say to talk to as many people as you can. It’s more about who you know than what you know. The more connections that you have, the better off you’ll be.
Ryan Squanda, The Bryan Times
Spartan sports memory: The Jalen Watts-Jackson play in 2015. I was a senior at MSU and I was hanging out in Ann Arbor with a bunch of friends from high school that went to either Michigan or Michigan State. It was a great weekend.
Being a Spartan in Sports Media is: Cool to me, because it’s neat to think how all of us started out in the same place — whether it be at the Communication Arts building or at The State News or whatever. We all have a similar set of experiences that we can relate to.
Advice? Get as much experience in as many different areas as you can. Sometimes I do stories where I take the pictures, do the video, write the story and then have to design the entire sports section of the paper.
Marti Martin, freelance
Spartan sports memory: Being on the field after Michigan State’s Rose Bowl win talking to former QB Kirk Cousins who I had the privilege of covering while he was at MSU. I didn’t go to the 88 Rose Bowl as I hadn’t been out of school very long and didn’t have the means to go, so I was certainly not going to miss that one.
Being a Spartan in Sports Media means: I am such a proud alum. Previously, when covering the major sports teams in Detroit, I had the opportunity to go to other cities and meet people from all over the country. I always let people know I my degree was from Michigan State. Most of the time, their reply would include what a great academic institution.
Advice? Build relationships and keep in contact with all of those you have built those relationships with. Those folks will be great resources as you progress through your career. Some will become lifelong friends.
Kelsey Puckett, Game Change
Spartan sports memory: It’s hard to pick since I was blessed with great Spartan teams while I was in school. I did love being in Pasadena to watch MSU beat Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
Being a Spartan in Sports Media means: Having so many great alum that I can connect with and ask for advice is one of the best things about being a Spartan in Sports Media. I meet graduates all over the country.
Advice: Be versatile and work hard. The more skills you bring to the table, the more appealing you are to an employer.
Brooks Laimbeer, Portland Timbers/MLS
Spartan sports memory: When the Michigan State men’s soccer team made a comeback to beat the Washington in PKs in the 2014 Sweet Sixteen to advance to the Elite Eight. In that match there were 10 future pros. Two have played for the United States Men’s National Team at the U23 level and one has played with the USMNT first team. One of those pros has also played with the Canadian Men’s National Team.
Being a Spartan in the Sports Media means: A lot to me. I get to meet a lot of great coaches from other universities and MLS teams. I also get to continue to build a relationship with the MSU Men’s Soccer coaching staff even after I have graduated from Michigan State.
Advice: You can’t give up on your dreams even when people don’t seem to see the magic in you. Some of us are going to get that great job right out of college and some of us are going to have to be patient and wait. Don’t think your career is over just because you didn’t get the job you wanted right after college.
John Bartmon, ESPN
Advice? Find something you love to work on and you’ll never regret it
Rico Beard, Radio host
Spartan sports memory: I was working courtside and got to watch MSU win the 2000 national title and be on the floor, in the locker room and at the team hotel after the victory.
Being a Spartan in Sports Media: Means you are part of a fraternity of professional journalists that always looks out for each other. There is a high standard that every Spartan has whether it is in front of or behind the camera, writing articles, columns or blogs.
Advice: You should never be afraid to be great.
Laurel Young, USA Hockey
Spartan sports memory: Being in the press box (junior year) for the miracle 2015 MSU vs. Michigan game at the Big House. No one knew what was happening at first, who scored, or if it counted. It was the quietest and then loudest press box I’ve ever been in.
Being a Spartan in Sports Media is: An honor. I think it’s a special fraternity in the real world of people who will help, connect, encourage whenever and however they can.
Advice? Take advantage of every opportunity. It may not be the most glamorous or exactly what you think you want to do but it can’t hurt to learn and try everything.
Jo-Ann Barnas, author/writer, exec Say Detroit
Spartan sports memories: Most revolve around the dynamics of our newsroom at the State News at the time. We had a quirky but great and hard working sports staff (Adam Teicher, Dave Dye, Mike Prisuta, Bob Tripi, John Raby among them) and, even though I was the lone female in the sports department during my years there (the early 1980s) I never felt different because I was as good as any of my colleagues. I remember the late nights cutting and pasting, and ‘airing out’ paragraphs to make our stories fit. And here’s an odd one: I remember surviving a 23-hour drive back to East Lansing from Boston in a blizzard after the NCAA hockey tournament in the back seat of Mike Prisuta’s car. I think it was in 1983 when I was the sports editor. I can’t remember who Michigan State played in the tournament; I only remember being totally grossed out by the number of soda bottle spittoons that Prisuta used for his chewing tobacco on the trip.
Being a Spartan in Sports Media: My years at Michigan State provided me not only outstanding instruction and experience, but the confidence that I needed to be successful in my sports writing career. When I started my first job — at the Kansas City Star in 1984 — I was promoted quickly above other first-year sports staffers because of my strong journalism background and work ethic.
Advice? For young people just starting out, be aggressive and make your future happen, but to be courteous, thoughtful and kind along the way. Those attributes are more important than you know. You want people to remember you, not forget you.
Mario Impemba, Fox Sports Detroit
Spartan sports memory: Attending the 2014 Rose Bowl win over Stanford in Pasadena with two of my former MSU roommates.
Being a Spartan in Sports Media means: I’ve always felt the biggest break in my career was getting the opportunity to work in campus radio at MSU. I’m proud of the University and the opportunities it affords.
Advice: Don’t be obsessed with chasing perfection in your career. It’s unattainable. Instead strive to be consistent.
Michael Caples, MI Hockey Magazine
Spartan sports memory: As a lifelong fan from a die-hard Spartan family, I’ve had an incredible amount of memories, and now, I’m lucky enough to experience more and more as a member of the media. Being on the sidelines for ‘Little Giants’ wasn’t bad though.
Being a Spartan in Sports Media means: Carrying the torch. We are lucky enough to have great professors, great resources and great opportunities while we attend the J-School – it’s our job to represent our alma mater as best we can.
Advice? Always to work, work and work some more. Internships, freelance opportunities, even just a chance to learn from somebody – make every single opportunity count. What you do outside of the classroom is crucial to your future success.
Joy Visconti, MSU J-School/Crain-MSU High School Journalism Program
Spartan sports memory: Attending the 2000 men’s basketball national title game with my best college friends and my parents. I covered the women’s Final Four in Philly the previous night and hopped on a plane the next morning and got to be fan at the men’s final.
Being a Spartan in Sports Media means: I have a network of peers who always have my back, professionally and personally.
Advice? Start networking in college – get to know your classmates. Many of my closest professional peers are former classmates.
Sean Merriman, Intersport
Spartan sports memory: Traveling to Pasadena to attend the Rose Bowl and being on the field when the final whistle blew.
Being a Spartan in Sports Media means: All about giving back for me. Any chance I get to work with or teach a fellow Spartan who is looking to break into the sports journalism field, I’m going to take. I know what it was like to be in their schools, and I want to make sure to give back to the school and program that gave me so much.
Advice: Network. Network. Network. The saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is beyond scary, but it’s also very true. Make sure to take advantage of this incredible MSU Journalism network you have at your disposal. We are all here to help!
Alex Tekip, ESPN
Spartan sports memory: My junior year was the Rose Bowl year, so that whole football season – holding Michigan to -48 rush yards, beating Ohio State in the Big Ten championship and of course, the big play to secure the win in Pasadena — is by far my favorite sports memory from when I was a student.
Being a Spartan in Sports Media is: Having a network of support to turn to and being able to represent my alma mater with pride.
Advice: Explore areas of the field outside of your comfort zone. Versatility can help you advance in the world of media, and you never know what skills are going to open the door to another opportunity.
Courtney Welch, Fox Sports Detroit
Spartan sports memory: Working with Sports Information, I’ll never forget those quiet moments before a game, working on Ryan Miller’s Hobey Baker campaign and all the people that it takes behind the scenes to make it work.
Being a Spartan in Sports Media means: Not being afraid to be yourself and do what’s right in each situation.
Advice: One piece of advice I’d share to current MSU Sports Journalism students is to get as much varied experience as they can while in school. Not only will it help develop your skillset but will help expand your network. I’d also encourage students to find time to disconnect from their phones to reset and create away from all the noise.
Faith Krogulecki, Fox Sports Detroit
Spartan sports memory: After covering a majority of the MSU home football games, I was able to go to the Big House and watch the Spartans play the Wolverines as a fan. I was able to witness MSU return the UM mishandled punt for the win in 2015!
Being a Spartan in Sports Media means: Your network stretches far beyond your workplace.
Advice: Never give up chasing the dream. Continue working hard, making connections and stepping out of your comfort zone.
Jake Atnip, Lansing State Journal
Spartan sports memory: Oct. 17, 2015 will forever resonate in my mind. I will never forget the moment Jalen Watts-Jackson crossed the goal line as time expired in the Big House. The air was taken out of the Big House in an instant. Being there to witness something so improbable was definitely one of the most incredible moments I’ve had as a Spartan.
Being a Spartan in Sports Media means: I believe it gives us a leg up on the competition. Our program prepared me for everything I have encountered in the field and I am proud to have such a solid educational background to fall upon. I believe that we have the educators, technology and resources available to create the best journalists in the world.
Advice? Grind. Then grind some more. This industry involves nothing but hard work and determination. Become well-rounded and take every opportunity that is granted to you. You will never know who or what you will need to rely on in pressure situations, always be prepared.
Omar Powell, ESPN