Monday, June 18, 2012

Twellman with a side of Rice

It's not every day your idol sits across from you in the lunchroom.

But, as I have learned over the past week, working at ESPN is no everyday job.

As I sat with other ESPN interns, chatting and enjoying my sandwich, I couldn't help but watch Taylor Twellman only a few tables away. Twellman, a soccer analyst for ESPN and anchor for the 2012 Euro Cup, played for the New England Revolution and United States men's national team. Excelling for both squads, the forward had his career cut short due to concussions in 2010. 

This is where he and I are similar, as I was forced to walk away from the game in 2011, my first season for Franklin College, after a series of concussions. To me, it is the post-playing career actions of Twellman that stand out. He has made a name for himself as an analyst, and leads the charge today in the often under-reported problem of concussions in soccer. He is an inspiration to me because he proves that life goes on after the beautiful game, and has been a voice for those who have kept quiet about head-injuries.

Twellman is not the only lunchroom co-worker at "the worldwide leader in sports," as I have stood in line next to Jerry Rice and Herm Edwards in route to a plate of nachos. The events, too, at ESPN are incredible. On Friday last week, I stood on the center green space as Billie Jean King talked about the obstacles that Title IX has helped to overcome. I had the chance to shoot hoops with my coworkers after-hours, and am playing with them in the company softball tournament in July. 

Moving past the perks (you can see, as a sports fan, I am still in awe of the place), I have already begun to learn what it means to be part of a sports magazine staff. On my first day, I was immediately placed in a staff meeting, analyzing each aspect of the upcoming issue. Writers, editors, photographers, designers: the entire web of the magazine must be in sync for anything to be accomplished. This interdependence has helped to reveal the importance of the co-worker relationship, as it can ease or burden progress. 

Another major stepping stone to a finished magazine, I have learned, is a simple one: the brainstorm. Editors and writers constantly must develop new angles, new stories, and new ways to add and keep readers. So much time is spent at my desk just thinking of new story ideas, researching their practicality, and writing pitches for editors. Often ideas are rejected, but that makes the pitch that is accepted all the sweeter. 

The most important thing I have learned thus far, I believe, is that as an intern, you should not just sit back and go with the flow. Be engaging. Throw out ideas. Getting involved not only makes your time worthwhile, but it also demonstrates your enthusiasm and interest in the subject to the editor. Pitch as many story ideas as possible, without fear of rejection. Rejection only means a clean sheet to start again.

As I move forward, I know more opportunities and experiences will reveal themselves, and I am ready to meet the challenge. As for who will be sitting across from me in the lunchroom tomorrow, however, will have to remain but a surprise.

Chase Howell, ESPN The Magazine
-- Franklin College

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