2016 Regions Riding Forward® Winning Essay by Joshua C.

Growing up on the south side of Chicago, I have always been a sports fan. My father, who was originally born in Philadelphia, is a sports fanatic as well as he groomed me as such. I was taken to my first baseball game when I was three years old and I fell in love hard. Sundays were always about watching our beloved Philadelphia Eagles play and waiting for them to either win or crush our hearts. In my free time, I would always either be watching a game or watching SportsCenter. 
And in doing so, unbeknownst to me at a young age, I found my idol.

Stuart Scott was a pillar for the network, as he was enthusiastic, energetic and trail blazed his own unique style through catch phrases like “boo-yah” and “as cool as the other side of the pillow.” He made sports an even more enjoyable event, which is hard for a fanatic like myself. But most importantly, Stuart Scott looked like me. I didn’t know it at the time, but consistently seeing someone that looked like me was a huge influence on me. Seeing a sports journalist excel the way that Scott did also influenced my later career choice.

Sports journalism is my way of being still connected to sports without having to play it. I was never the best athlete. As a matter of fact, sports broke my heart that way. I desperately wanted to become a famous athlete and to live that glamorous lifestyle. I quickly learned after two years of playing basketball that I wasn’t fast enough, big enough or that I couldn’t shoot well enough to make it. Baseball broke my heart even worse. I played every year from second to seventh grade and then again freshman year. But freshman year was when everybody’s fastball got faster and the off-speed pitches became more pronounced. My first love told me that I wasn’t good enough.

I turned that love of the game into sports writing and analysis. I could always debate sports topics well: it was just a matter of turning that debate into words on paper. I also could write well, which was a gift I inherited from my mother. I remember that I wrote one story for the online edition of the school paper on three hypothetical trades that the Chicago Bulls should make. I got nothing but positive reviews on it. One of my favorite writers, Kelly Scaletta from Bleacher Report, read it and commended my writing skills. I immediately became hooked and eventually began my own sports website with a friend from Indianapolis a year later, called i65sports.com. We’ve been going strong for a little more than two years now and we’ve gotten over 150,000 organic views.

Stuart Scott being the unique person that he was has been an incredibly strong influence and source of inspiration for me as I continue my pursuit to become a sports journalist.


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