The University of Hartford’s School of Communication partnered with the Hartford Yard Goats minor league baseball team to give students the chance to know what it is like to work as a sports-beat journalist.
“Students are doing the same work that a sports journalist does,” says Abe Hefter, assistant professor of communication in the College of Arts and Sciences. Hefter is teaching The Sports Beat, a six-week Summerterm course both at the Dunkin’ Donuts ballpark and in the classroom. “They’re also getting an understanding of the editorial process and how to meet deadline constraints,” says Hefter, who has many years of experience working as a professional sports journalist. His background includes doing play-by-play for the Montreal Canadians and covering the Olympic Games in Lake Placid, Calgary, Seoul, and Vancouver.
Communication major Kaamal Cenot ’20 of Warwick, N.Y., says his work in the class “can’t get any better than this,” since his plan is to eventually work as a reporter for ESPN.
Although he has done on-camera reporting for UHart’s basketball, baseball, and soccer teams for the student-run television network STN, this is the first time that Cenot has reported on a professional team. “Getting first-hand experience with the Yard Goats is pretty cool and fun,” he adds.
Hefter says the students also are quickly learning that there are many different ways to tell a story, and are doing so through a combination of online content, radio broadcasting, and live tweeting in the press box at the ballpark. Fans of the Yard Goats can read and listen to The Sports Beat’s coverage online on the class blog.
According to Hefter, one of the key elements of sports reporting is the podcast. “The students write their own scripts, but once they speak the words and record it, they hear how it sounds,” says Hefter. “They are learning how the written word is much different than the spoken one.” Hefter says he leads them through the process to refine their script and make improvements before a podcast is recorded and posted online.
On occasion, Hefter says the Yard Goats twitter feed (@GoYardGoats) has “liked” the students’ tweets. The team has even given students access to their batting practice so they can conduct interviews a few hours before the start of a game.