Reporting on a beat foreign to me

  • May 1, 2020

By Nicholas McEntyre 

When I went to the School of Journalism’s 2019 fall semester internship fair, I was not expecting to gain an internship, let alone be offered one on the spot. But when Professor Selvin pointed me over to Vinny Messana, the president and founder of Axcess Sports, I decided to give it a shot. 

After Vinny and I spoke for about 20 minutes, he offered me a position as a reporter for both baseball and lacrosse. His company, Axcess Baseball, is one of the largest baseball-oriented media companies on Long Island, and coming from a baseball loving family, I was very excited. 

A couple of weeks went by and the fall semester turned into the end of winter break, when Vinny reached out to me about running the Axcess Lacrosse Instagram account. I was excited as well as scared, as I never played a game of lacrosse in my life and I’ve  watched only a handful of Stony Brook games. 

When the spring semester started back up, my first assignment was very simple: Log into the Instagram account and introduce myself and the goals I had set for the upcoming season. A couple of days later, I was given a list of numbers and emails for every single high school lacrosse coach on Long Island. That would become my holy grail for the next couple of weeks, as I would contact the coaches and interview them for season previews of their teams, just to keep content flowing prior to both the collegiate and high school seasons beginning. 

While some coaches never got back with the first emails or phone calls, others jumped on the opportunity for free publicity for their teams, which made my work easier. It should be noted that because Long Island is a huge petri dish for good lacrosse, there are many media companies dedicated solely to lacrosse, but the work that I did was discovered by a small yet loyal fanbase that enjoyed the content. 

When the collegiate season came around, I posted daily recaps on Instagram for the several Long Island teams, writing up the scores and game highlights. This was easier for me as most of the games weren’t within a commuting distance, but it kept the followers informed of what was going on, as well as producing content for the page before the high school season came around, which was the main focus of the internship. 

In March, I covered a couple of Stony Brook games. I received a camera to take pictures at the games, but I was never able to use it at a game as the NCAA and the respective conferences decided to cancel the remainder of the seasons for all teams due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A couple of days later, Long Island schools were suspended, and later closed, for the remainder of the academic year, which also canceled high school games. 

After the cancellations, I wrote a few more articles. One featured award winners and recaps of the collegiate season. I also interviewed a few coaches regarding the fate of their seasons. The Instagram content was still flowing, though it did slow down a little because there wasn’t much to post about and there wasn’t a huge following to do challenges or giveaways. 

This internship was more than sports journalism. It was producing media and creative content with the ability to post what I wanted and when I wanted with a supervisor who pointed me to some stories, but it was mostly me doing what I felt was best for the Axcess Lacrosse page/website. 

To those interested in this internship in the future or at a similar place, go for it. I was able to see a different side of sports and to learn more about a sport that used to be foreign to me. If you love sports, whether it is a certain sport or a general love, take the opportunity to explore this side of journalism. If you are not looking to enter sports journalism for a career but are given this opportunity as a sophomore or even a freshman, take it ,because other companies that offer internships want you to have experience before you apply to theirs. This was a great opportunity for me to apply my journalism skills and to develop new ones, all the while working on a loose time restriction with minimal stress. It is the perfect first internship experience to get your foot in the door.