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.
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.
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.