Sometimes, it’s more than a story

For reporters, it’s easy to forget that sometimes we’re not just covering a game or an event, we are covering the biggest moment’s of peoples lives.

As a member of the media, it’s easy to see an assignment on the schedule and just think it’s what you’re supposed to do on a given day of the week. It’s very easy to forget what that story might be for the person it’s centered around.

A few weeks ago, I was at Pro Day for Youngstown State University. For me, it was one of my tasks to do on March 5, but for five Penguins, including standout running back Jamaine Cook, it was the biggest day of his young career.

“Definitely there were a little bit of jitters, this is the biggest interview of your life,” Cook said. “This could be life changing. This is huge. You have the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

Once Cook said those words, it hit me, I’m interviewing him after a huge audition in front of 12 NFL scouts. I just interviewed him on what could possibly be the first step into his NFL career.

While Cook’s audition at Pro Day could be the beginning of something great, sometimes reporters cover the end of eras. And when you’re talking to 17-year-old kids about that, it’s hard to remember they are, in fact, 17-year-old kids.

In 2008, I conducted an interview with then-John F. Kennedy senior pitcher Rachel Pico after the Division IV state title softball game. She just gave up a grand-slam home run that gave Triad the state title. It’s probably a memory that still haunts Pico to this day.

Showing maturity well beyond her years, she talked to me after the game about her season, the game, and the pitch that she wishes she could have taken back. For me, it was a game story. For her, it was the end of her softball career.

Just last week, minutes after a dream season came to a close, LaBrae’s John Richards and Peyton Aldridge sat in front of at least 15 different media outlets talking about their seasons ending. The duo spoke of the loss and what this year meant to them. Aldridge, who will be a Division I recruit next year for basketball, was even asked a few curveball questions that normally are saved for collegiate or pro athletes.

“Peyton, are you playing football next year?”

In a calmness that not many 16-year-olds have, Aldridge answered: “Well, next for me is baseball.”

A perfect answer to deflect a question, especially for a teenager who could have been thrown and said something he shouldn’t have.

It’s in situations like those it’s hard to remember that Pico, Richards and Aldridge have yet to be through many life experiences. They’ve yet to graduate high school, they’ve yet to go to college and live on their own. They are really just beginning their lives. In cases like Cook, he’s getting ready to begin his true adult life.

For reporters, it’s just another assignment. But in reality, it’s an assignment that could be remembered in someone’s life for years to come.