By Andrea Cruse
Coming from a small town like Redford, I was thrilled when I was handpicked to represent Thurston last week at the state wide High School Journalist Day at the Joe Louis Arena.
“The Detroit Red Wings invite Michigan high schools each season to send one student reporter to The Joe to get an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look into the world of sports journalism at High School Journalist Day,” said Michigan Office Solutions.
I had the privilege of truly experiencing a day as a journalist. With journalism students from various high schools across the state of Michigan, the Olympia Club was filled with eager, passionate journalism students like myself.
Like so many professional events, we started almost an hour late yet managed to stay right on track throughout the rest of the day. The first panel was Ken Kal, the play-by-play announcer for 97.1 The Ticket, and Michael Caples, Michigan Hockey editor. Both Kal and Caples gave sound advice to us.
“Break into the industry now,” said Caples, “you’re already behind when you enter college.”
“Start building your skills now.” added Kal. “When I first started out, I wasn’t that good, but practicing will help you develop your skills.”
After the first panel, we went on a tour of the press box with very little room to move around. We were split into two groups and went in single file. The view of the ice was absolutely beautiful where we got to see the Red Wings practice with a complete view of the arena. Watching the Wings practice was my favorite part of the day because come on, who doesn’t want to watch the stars of Hockeytown. Surprisingly, the atmosphere during their practice was similar to how we practice on my high school softball team: structured but relaxed. I could easily tell these guys were all like family to one another, with Justin Abdelkader (#8) horsing around with the other players, being the annoying sibling we all know. After practice, we went onto lunch where we were served a very teenager friendly meal of pizza, salad and brownies. Yum.
After lunch was the second panel of the day: Head Coach Jeff Blashill. He expressed three major points: have passion, perseverance and drive: those three things will help you not only in your career, but in life as well. Blashill is also new to the team, being hired in June 2015, but he stated,
“Mutual respect is key to not only coaching this team, but any team. Being new to the team and there are players like [Pavel] Datsyuk and [Henrik] Zetterberg, who are veterans, we all have to respect one another in order to play together as one.”
Craig Turnbull, Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications for the Red Wings, followed Blashill, providing insight into the Red Wings’ new home that is coming in 2017.
“This arena is going to be bigger, with an underground practice arena in addition to the main ice. Now we’ll be able to actually compete with the Palace of Auburn Hills when it comes to concerts,” laughed Turnbull.
The final panel for the day was made up of social media and communication representatives. This was one of my favorite panels of the day because all four of them were so real and genuinely passionate about what they do.
Fan interaction is one of the key points they focus on.
“I absolutely love seeing the fans’ reactions to something I help create,” said Director of Integrated Media, Kimberly Palter. “They make us who we are today.”
It was so interesting to feel like a true journalist for a day. All of the panels treated us exactly how they would professional journalists at a postgame press conference. The most important thing I learned was to have passion and a genuine fondness for what you do because you want to find not only something that interests you, but also something you truly love doing. Passion is what drives your future, and if there is no passion in what you do, you’ll never succeed. Journalism is definitely something I truly have a passion for, and I hope to integrate it into my future.