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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

A career on ice: Junior attends San Jose Sharks “High School Writer’s Day”

As a junior, I have reached the point where it is time to start narrowing down my interests. Playing for the tennis team while writing for the Falcon, as well as being a fan of several professional sports teams has directed my attention to sports journalism. Knowing that many high school journalists would like exposure to the industry, the San Jose Shark’s Foundation hosts an annual “High School Writer’s Day” to give students like me some first-hand experience on the job. 
After I was selected through an application process as one of four Santa Clara County students to have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I arrived at the SAP Center on Nov. 20 to see the Sharks face the Florida Panthers. With a notebook and pen in hand, I began the night with our group on a tour of the arena. 
As we ventured through an “employees only” door to the exclusive VIP and staff floor, I was excited to see the array of displays and photo frames that plastered the walls. 
On the first stretch was a photograph of every player who has been signed by the Sharks, arranged by the total number of games played. First in line was Saratoga resident Patrick Marleau, whom I happen to have seen twice at Safeway. 
We made our way to a room full of professional journalists chatting away at dining tables. Feeling out-of-place, the four of us walked in slowly, and all eyes turned to watch the strange teenagers awkwardly entering the press dining room. Though dinner and dessert tasted delicious, I could tell we were all eager to move on to the next agenda item and escape the heated room of fiery journalists. 
Next, we met Kevin Kurz, Sharks beat writer and insider for Comcast SportsNet. He described what his life is like writing about the Sharks. When asked about his approach to forming relationships with the players, he explained that he keeps it professional, as some stories require him to ask tougher questions, such as “why have you been pulled from the lineup?”
Wrapping up the interviews, we went to watch the game. When the elevator doors parted, my mouth dropped open. We were at the highest level of the stadium where the media work during the games, and we were about to walk across the arena’s catwalk. For those who are not familiar with the catwalk, it is essentially a 3-foot wide path that extends across the entire width of the stadium right under the ceiling.
Eyes were on us as we made our way past the many big-time reporters. I was so nervous for the catwalk that I barely recognized Randy Hahn, my favorite sports commentator, standing just 3 feet away. 
I have never been terrified of heights, conquering the top floors of the Eiffel Tower and Empire State Building. But this time, vertigo kicked in as I eyed the catwalk. At previous games, I’ve always looked up and wondered what the busy people walking back-and-forth across the catwalk were doing. I never imagined I would one day be standing on it.
Taking a deep breath, I made the first step. Before I knew it, I had made it halfway and was directly above the ice. Maintaining my balance as if I were on a tightrope, a gust of chilly wind surged up and I shivered. Trying not to look at the ice below my feet, I made the rest of the trek across at a brisk pace. Breathing a sigh of relief, I laughed with the others at my own trepidation, but nearly passed out. 
We took our seats and prepared to watch the energized crowd welcome the players onto the ice. I felt the excitement ricochet through the stadium. 
Being an avid Sharks fan since I was 7, I paid close attention to the game below. The Panthers managed to score a goal in the first 30 seconds, which had most of the crowd unsettled. However, when centerman Logan Couture made a goal for the Sharks in the second period, the entire arena erupted. I had to stop myself from jumping out of my chair in exhilaration when I suddenly remembered I wasn’t a fan in a jersey, but a journalist who must maintain professionalism while on the job. 
After each period, a copy of statistics was delivered to the press box. The game was tied, 2-2, at the end of the overtime period. We made our way down to the ice to watch the shootout up close. My heart sank after Panthers’ Nick Bjugstad snuck in the last goal against Antti Niemi, winning the game. 
Hit with the realization that I would be interviewing a player who had just suffered a heartbreaking loss, I knew I had to alter my questions to fit the mood and circumstances. Standing outside of the locker room, I spoke with right wing Barclay Goodrow. I asked him how it felt to be back at home ice, to which he responded with appreciation for the supportive fans. 
Concluding the eventful night, the four of us laughed at the enjoyable moments and finally parted ways. As the only girl in the group, I was relieved I had enough sports knowledge to talk about not only hockey, but the Oakland Raiders game that took place that night as well. Driving away from the SAP Center, I could not bring myself to stop smiling. Even though the Sharks lost the game in the shootout, I now had a new perspective of hockey and a first-hand experience at the life of a sports journalist. Exposed to the dedication and toil that these journalists put into their jobs, my passion for sports media increased. I think I have a better answer the next time someone asks me, “What might you want to be when you grow up?”
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