Nick Carroll Headshot

“Learn how to behave in the Press Box,” is a short article that details how to act and behave professionally while covering a sporting event.

As author Audrey Willis points out, most sports journalism etiquette is unwritten and reporters pick it up over time with game experience.

Locker room behavior, press conferences, professional attitude and proper attire are all important factors when covering a team. 

“Break any of the rules we’re about to outline and rest assured some seasoned journalist will give you the evil eye,” Willis writes.

After I pickup my media credentials in the Civic Center later today, I anticipate evil eyes from weathered reporters scowling at my Trojan attire.

You want media to be authentic, right?

So tell me why I shouldn’t root for the hardworking kids from this community.

Drew Keckley – The reason I gave Drew the nickname “Smooth” Drew Keckley is because the nickname fits his style. This kid is a grinder, but he makes it look easy. He is dependable, reliable, and the team’s go-to player when Hampshire needs a bucket. Drew’s coolness oozes from his style of play. “Smooth” Drew has been humble in postgame interviews while proving his worth as a team leader, during the offseason and throughout his career.

I shouldn’t root for a high character kid like Drew?

Christian Hicks – The grasshopper Christian Hicks has been a showstopper in the playoffs, blocking 3-point shots and dunking the basketball. Although his play in late April belongs on Sportscenter, you couldn’t find a more humble, kind, sweet, religious and hardworking kid.  Want an example of why I root for this kid?  Before the regional championship game, Christian went out of his way to locate 2 padded foldout chairs, so I could sit in 1 chair and use the other for my laptop.  He placed those chairs against the wall in the corner of the gym just for me. It’s the biggest game of Christian’s career, and yet he is going out of his way in pregame to make sure the media guy has a place to do his job.

I shouldn’t root for a class act like Christian?

Carter Smith – This senior makes me laugh all the time and yet has a mean streak when he hits the court. Last fall the BOE contemplated shutting down athletics due to Covid, and I penned an aggressive column loudly voicing my support of sports, begging the BOE to make the right decision and allow athletics to continue. After the Board’s decision to keep sports alive, Carter went out of his way to personally thank me for standing up for Trojan athletes.  He is the type of kid willing to voice his opinion on any matter and shed blood for his teammates to get a win. I love to see a kid like Carter lay it on the line for his teammates.

I shouldn’t root for a grinder like Carter?

Trevor Sardo – Trevor is the do-it-all athlete you could put on any team, anywhere, at any time and this kid will show up to play. It doesn’t matter if your record is 0-10 or your team is heading to Charleston, this kid comes ready to compete. Trevor might not be the biggest talker in postgame press conferences, because he lets his talking get done on the court, grass, or any other surface. In basketball Trevor has morphed his game into whatever the coach wants. Shoot from long range or drive the lane, whatever you ask him to do, he will do it.

I shouldn’t root for an unselfish player like Sardo?

Damon Steinmetz – This senior is quiet off the court, but his defensive play on the hardwood speaks volumes.  Here is a kid that couldn’t care less what the stat sheet says.  After the sectional championship, he stood outside the locker room just beaming with pride. While waiting to interview Coach Alkire, I started asking Damon about how his team would handle regionals.  Without flinching, he promised me Hampshire would win. No doubt about it.  True to his word and backed by his play, Steinmetz and his fellow friends went out and destroyed North Marion on their home court en route to a regional title. Once again Steinmetz and myself were hanging outside the locker room after the regional championship. He looked at me and said, “I told you, didn’t I?” Yes Damon, you did.

I shouldn’t root for a confident team player like Steinmetz?

Mikhi Anderson – Before this season started, I told Mikhi about my desire to win photographer of the year in West Virginia.  I told Mikhi, “Me winning that Photographer of the Year award isn’t up to me, it’s up to you.” He paused for a moment then smiled, “Oh you mean I gotta dunk the basketball during a game!” replied Mikhi. “I got you man.”  And oh boy did he got me. In the 1st regular season game of the season, Mikhi blocked a shot, picked up a steal and headed down the court with nobody in sight except the mighty Trojan mural posted on the wall. Mikhi leaped to the heavens and sent down one of the best dunks ever seen at Hampshire High as the crowd responded with thunderous applause. A timeout was quickly called after the play and Mikhi headed over to the bench. After being embraced by his teammates, Mikhi pointed at me and with a big smile said, “I told you, I got you.”  Yes Mikhi. Yes you did. And I got you.  That’s what teammates do.

I shouldn’t root for a kid that helps me achieve my goals?

Drake Keckley – The team manager is a future statistician and sports editor in the making. If I’m not able to attend an away game, Drake Keckley takes care of me. At the conclusion of every game, Drake fills out the scorebook like a professional, and sends me results immediately, understanding urgency and accuracy is a must. Drake makes me look good and that I’m in the know of everything going on with the Trojan boys basketball program. Drake never asks for attention, but is just happy to be a part of the program.

I shouldn’t root for a selfless volunteer like Drake?

That’s just the seniors.

The junior class is stuffed full of class acts too.

Alex Hott – Truth be told, I’m hard on this 3-sport athlete because he is gifted. Whether it be baseball, football or basketball, Alex Hott is a key player on all the teams. After a loss in football early this season, Alex asked me how he played.  I responded with, do you want the truth, or do you want me to be nice?  Nah man, just tell me what you think,” Alex responded.  Well Alex, you didn’t play well at all. You’re better than the performance you left on the field.  A few weeks later, that same kid went and scored 7 touchdowns to help Hampshire win a critical midseason contest. Just like I was quick to criticize Alex, I was fast to praise his heroics. I found him in the parking lot in the postgame, “Now, that was a GREAT game!” The same thing goes for basketball and baseball. Alex craves feedback and loves to improve. I respect his commitment to all 3 sports as he gives maximum effort in everything he does. 

I shouldn’t root for a nonstop hustler like Alex yearning to improve?

Emi Smith – Emi is Drake Keckley’s sidekick at the scorers table and typically is tasked with scoreboard duties. Emi is selfless and volunteers her time to help the basketball team. Emi’s character as a teenager is better than most adults I know. During a game against Spring Mills the coach of the Cardinals started lambasting Emi because the score was off by 1 point. Instead of lowering herself to his level and acting like a jack donkey, Emi fixed the score and continued working without a hiccup.

I shouldn’t root for a teenager who volunteers to do a thankless job?

Zack Hill – The story of Zack is one of growth and character. Zack is a worker. Zack is a grinder. Zack is the type of kid willing to sacrifice his weekends in the summer to go improve his craft. Last summer Zack’s character shined brightly. Here is a story you don’t know. During the 3-week open period last summer, a student from HHS tested positive for Covid.  I announced that sports would be shutdown for several weeks due to a strict Covid protocol established at the time. This was still the dark days of Covid and fear ruled the day. I received a phone call later that night from Zack.  “Hey Nick, I just wanted to let you know that I’m the kid that tested positive,” said Zack Hill.  “I’m sorry man, I just wanted you to know though that it was me.”  Talk about stepping up to the plate when everyone wanted to point fingers at the culprit who brought Covid to Hampshire High. Zack didn’t have to call me. Zack didn’t have to look out for my best interest. Zack didn’t have to say a word. But that's not Zack. While nasty comments blared from social media attacking the innocent kid for playing sports outside the county, Zack still had the courage to inform me of his positive test.  Zack might have had a ‘scarlet letter’ temporarily adorned upon him, however, that scarlet letter is a badge of honor in my book.

I shouldn’t root for a high character kid like Zack?

Call me unprofessional. Call me immature. Call me a contrarian. But I will gladly trade in my ‘journalistic integrity’ for ‘community authenticity’ and root for the home team.

Let’s Go Trojans!

(1) comment


Right on Nick. These kids are great kids. We should all be behind these kids all the way to achieve their dreams. Thanks for showcasing all of the great student athletes at HHS.

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