The smaller the athlete, the bigger the story

I was sitting there in the waiting area nearly shaking. Before we entered the gym all I could think about was: What am I going to ask them? Did I iron my shirt enough? Did I forget to put deodorant on this morning? What these guys are actually cool and I get to talk with them one-on-one? How am I going to keep my composure? I was about to get some of the biggest interviews of my life, ones that some journalists still dream of.

I was as excited and nervous as I think I’ve ever been in my life, sweaty palms and all. I had gotten no sleep the previous night because I had stayed up researching every player on the USA men’s basketball team down to their shoe sizes and thinking about the three trains that I had to catch to the training facility at the University of East London all by myself. I am proud to say that I navigated London quite well and arrived there ahead of time.

To my surprise when we walked into the gym after an hour restlessly waiting and saw stars like Chris Paul, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant less than 10 feet away from me all my stress melted away and my journalist mode kicked in.

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers discusses the teams upcoming matchup against Argentina during Sunday’s practice at the University of East London. Photo Credit: Holly Moody

I walked right up to Kobe Bryant snapped a couple pictures and move towards Carmelo Anthony who was a very nice guy.

But then we went to LeBron who kind of shrugged my peer off when she went to ask him a question. His exact words were “Oh I’m done sweetheart,” in a condescending tone. Rude, right? A few of the players were very short with their answers, and Anthony Davis gave me nothing newsworthy when I spoke to him. It was like talking to a wall almost except I got one or two word answers.

I started to feel like a bother. Believe me, I get it. Reporters are in your face everyday ,you all live in huge mansions with six-car garages and women flock to you like geese.  You have better things to do than talk to a 20-year-old reporter and you have a lot to be arrogant about, but be a little humble. That gold medal is not guaranteed just yet.

The interesting thing is before we went into that practice I got to interview silver medalist archer Jacob Wukie of Fremont, Ohio. He was more than willing to talk, didn’t come off cocky at all and was a bit long winded, which he apologized for but as journalists we love it when our sources actually want to talk. I had a better time talking to him than I did with some of these big shot NBA players, and I didn’t even have to fight for a spot to stick my recorder in his face or get a question in like I did in that practice.

Don’t get it twisted. It was still the opportunity of a lifetime to get to be in the presence of the dream team but in those few moments I realized that it’s the athletes that don’t get as much shine that I want to talk to and make for the best stories.

Olivia Arbogast and Holly Moody interview silver medalist archer, Jacob Wukie of Massillon, Ohio on Sunday.

We did a preview of their matchup against Argentina, which they won, just as every other reporter probably did when they got back to their newsroom. But our Q&A with Wukie is something that other publications won’t have. A lot of publications seem to be concerned interviewing the major athletes not the ones that are new to the Olympics, especially archers.

The experience taught me a little something about what type of reporter I want to be. Jacob Wukie might not have been the worlds most renowned athlete but he had a big story to tell about his journey to the Olympics and all of the work and dedication that he put into becoming a silver medalist archer.I want to report on the athletes that are not in the spotlight and that don’t take one bit of an opportunity like this for granted because they will be the ones to give you a good story.Getting to meet the dream team was nice but meeting Wukie was far more rewarding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ohio archer hits target winning silver at Olympics

Holly Moody and Olivia Arbogast ran into U.S. silver medalist Jacob Wukie at the training facilities in the University of East London before the U.S. men’s basketball practice. Wukie won one of the first medals for the U.S. in archery, knocking out the favored South Korean archers in the semifinals. See what the Massillon, Ohio native had to say about his recent success as the Olympics.

Olivia Arbogast: What feelings did you experience when you realized that you won silver?

Jacob Wukie:It was the greatest feeling. Jake (Kaminski), Brady (Ellison) and myself had trained a lot throughout the years, and we trained together and lived together at the center. So it really built up a good team just in the sense of being a team, and also learning the best technique that we could. So as a result of all that, we had a lot of confidence in each other because we had seen how hard everyone worked and knew they would give the most that they could. Going into the tournament, having kind of a sense of comradely helped just because we trusted each other, knew how to push each other and encourage each other. It’s tough being out there, in front of the stadium, in front of the cameras, in front of the world really and everything, and we were able to really perform well and work well as a team. That was one of the things that really helped us to perform at a little bit of a higher level, and the fact that we were able to have the teamwork.

Silver medalist Jacob Wukie talks to OU reporters about his first medal.
Archer Jacob Wukie won the first medal of the London Olympics with this teammates Brady Ellison and Jake Kaminski, falling to Italy in a tense battle the first day of the Games, Saturday July 28.
Photo by Joel Pfahler (Athletes in Action)

So going in to win, especially with our semifinals match against Korea because they were ranked No. 1 – they had Nos. 1, 2, and 3 ranked individual archers. We kept getting asked questions if it was possible to beat Korea. We were asked if they were too much of a powerhouse, and so to go out there and perform well and beat them, it was really exciting to beat them, win that match and go into the gold medal match.

Knowing that we would be medalists at that point – it was really exciting.

OA: Was this your first trip to the Olympics?

JW: Yes, I was the alternate for the team in 2008, and then I was an official member this time around.

OA: Do you feel more pressure with this competition from the Olympics than your previous, other competitions?

JW: Looking back on it, I would say that it felt pretty similar. I would say that it came down to how I trained and just focusing on shooting – not thinking too much about where you are and what you are doing. Really the ranking round, which is what we shoot that puts us into a bracket and shows what individuals we shoot against and what teams we shoot against, I was almost more nervous there walking into the stadium with everyone watching. It was exciting, but I almost get more nervous in national tournaments than coming here. But I would say that I get more excited coming to this one.

Holly Moody: What would you say you have been looking forward to watching while you are here in London?

JW: I’m not really sure exactly – whatever I can get to. I am really excited to kind of run from event to event, trying to see as much as I can. I know that definitely I know some BMX-ers, so I am wanting to watch some BMX. My family is kind of a big wrestling family, so I am going to try to watch some wrestling. We’ll just have to see. I have met some people, so I have to see if they have already competed or not, so I can see if the people I met here are still competing. I would like to see them if they are, especially the people I have become friends with while I am here.

OA: Archery has taken off ever since The Hunger Games has come out. How do you feel about that?

JW: It has definitely been exciting. One of the things that they said, the clubs and everything, have said that a lot of new people are coming in and trying the sport. It is really exciting for us since it has become a lot more popular this year. Especially since we can get on national television – a lot of people are able to watch us from home. And it is something that we have never really had before, so it is nice to go in that direction from where we are as we get more into the public eye. It’s a lot more exciting for us as people watch us, and the more people means the bigger the sport will become. And it means a bigger competitive presence for us at these events, especially being in the public eye and being able to come here and perform in a higher level. You really come away happy with how you performed and how many people are excited about the sport.

OA: When did you decide to get into the archery, and how did you decide that you wanted to go the Olympic route with it?

JW: I started shooting with like 3D tournaments with a compound bow, which isn’t in the Olympics, and when I went to college at James Madison University, they actually had a team there. They had Olympic-style archers, so going there was when I decided to switch because I knew I was already interested in trying to make an Olympic team. So that was when I made the switch and learned the different skills, the different skill sets.