An In-Depth Look at the Oregon Sports Awards Student Media Summit
This year, in collaboration with the Play It Forward sponsors, Nike and Providence Health Services, the Oregon Sports Awards collaborated to put on the Student Media Summit, which began at 10:30 a.m. and ran until the end of the awards that night.
“Modeled in the spirit of our host, Brian Berger’s annual Sports PR Summit, the Oregon Sports Awards Media Summit (SMS) is an immersive daylong program on June 6th, focused around inspiration and discussion with guest speakers,” the invitation read.
Nike invited students from all the schools who had Play It Forward nominees, including Central Catholic, Madison, and South. One student present was this year’s Rose Princess.
A group of Madison high students who participated in this year’s SMS.
The Play It Forward award and fund was introduced at last year’s Sports Awards, and is meant to honor one high school and one college student who dedicate their time to making kids active. Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota, a former player for the Oregon Ducks, while this year was Gavin Begay from Madras.
In years past, the awards have hosted the #BeLikeNeil contest, in which high school send in videos of them sportscasting and declaring why they should be given the chance to co-host the awards with Neil Everett, an ESPN sportscaster on SportsCenter. The 2014 winner was Lily Gordon ‘14 from South.
The summit itself was highly informative and planned very well. The first half of the summit in the morning was dedicated to Student Media Summit, or SMS speakers. Charlie Brooks, the Vice President of Nike North America Communications opened the presentation, and gave the advice that the best relationship between communications and journalists is a symbiotic, or give-give one.
He then passed it along to Brian Berger, the founder/host of Sports Business Radio [@SBRadio]. Berger hosted the main event, a rotation of other guest speakers, including Jackie Titus, the Global Digital Communications Director for Nike, Andy Johnson, the radio host for 1080 The Fan!, and Steve Brandon, the sports editor for the Portland Tribune.
They all offered great advice; Berger emphasized the importance of a journalist practicing their writing skills, along with the evolution into “citizen journalism,” that everyone has access to social media and a phone to take video and photos on. He also stressed that research is key, which means 45 minutes to one hour, and will make the search for original questions much easier.
“They’re asked all the same questions,” Berger said. “Once you find something new, something they haven’t been asked before, they just light up. You can see it in their face.”
Everyone involved in the rotation also gave great advice. It suffered a minor hiccup after Casey Holdall, the digital reporter for the Trail Blazers, messed up the order a tad, but it did not affect the quality. The most common theme among all the participants, including PR people, communications, and news personalities, was that they all said that the students present should be open to change. Not a lot of them are doing now what they assumed they going to do fresh out of college; Matt Creagan, a recent college graduate, for example, took biology at first. Instead of continuing on this path, after taking an internship with the Portland Timbers that later turned into a full-time job, he is now their Social Media Coordinator.
After a lunch break, the second half of the summit speakers began, labeled the Play It Forward or PIF speakers, and their message was central around the idea of community, and that more children should play, or learn how to play. Diana Cutaia, the president of Coaching Peace Consulting, hosted.
“How many of the people in here are student athletes?” Cutaia said.
Almost everyone in the room raised their hand.
“Ah, good,” she said.
Caitlin Morris, the senior director of North America Community Impact showed a video about young children saying what they would do with their life if they had five extra years to live.
“I would become leader of all the chipmunks,” one said. “Why are you asking me this?”
It turned out that this generation may die five years younger than their parents. Morris teared up a little, and claimed her nickname was ‘Cries a lot, laughs a lot.’ In her defense, the video, despite the funny one-liners given by the participants, was very moving and had a powerful message.
This then segwayed into the female panel moderated by Cutaia, and included Morris, Chris Van Wagner, the Director of Rehab Services at Providence, Bev Smith, the Executive Director of KID SPORTS, Erin Hubert, the CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Portland, and Annie Klug, the Senior Social Responsibility Program Manager of the Portland Trail Blazers. Each gave a short description of their job and how they attempt to impact the community.
A shot of the panel as Klug gives her personal introduction at the beginning.
Beverly Miller, a softball pitcher for Oregon State and one of the Play It Forward nominees, asked an excellent question about women in sports and praised the panel for being women in a male-dominated field. This sparked an intriguing discussion about traditional gender roles and how to introduce the concept of sport to young girls. Smith brought up the idea that males have been consistently portrayed as coaches, while the moms are usually the managers.
“They’re running around passing around the snacks, the orange slices,” Smith said.
Cutaia then wrapped up this panel and introduced the next. This time, Berger was in charge, and the guest was Brian Grant, an ex-NBA player and the founder of the Brian Grant Foundation. Grant discussed his childhood and career, eventually talking about his experience with Parkinson’s. He constantly visited the idea of community as well, even during his days as a basketball star.
“I never wanted to enter a community and feel like I was taking from that community, because I was being paid a lot to play basketball,” Grant said.
Grant, on the right, during his presentation with Berger, on the left. Behind him displayed on the screens, was the homepage of his website for the Brian Grant foundation.
Grant also emphasized the importance of taking opportunity. No one in his small town went to college, but after hearing a radio commercial and being pushed by several of his teachers, Grant knew he could do it. His philosophy was that opportunities do not come all the time, and you have to go and get them when they are right in front of you.
“When I had an opportunity, I went and grabbed it,” Grant said. “Whatever you get involved in, follow through.”
The panel then ended and gave way to interviews with Play It Forward nominees. This was a phenomenal experience, and it was enlightening to see how these highly successful athletes still find the time to give back and involve others in the activities that they love most. Seated at table four, I personally got to interview Cheridan Hawkins, a nationally-ranked softball pitcher for the University of Oregon, along with the rest of my group members, all from Madison high. She detailed her experience with KID SPORTS as part of a required internship in her course, and her great respect for its message and all that Smith does.
“I guess my philosophy would be ‘All kids can play,’ “ Hawkins said. “I believe pretty strongly in that.”
She ran a softball clinic for children with the help of some of her teammates. Hawkins does want to do activities of this nature, helping kids to be active in sports. Going to U of O, she claims that there is more opportunity to volunteer and give back, as compared to Northern California, or the town she came from, Redding.
“Eugene has this way of knowing who wants to volunteer and taking them all,” Hawkins said.
Overall, she believes that lack of knowledge and nutrition are a major contribution to the issues going on today, such as the one expressed in the video Morris showed earlier in the afternoon, and to remedy this she wants to impact the family as a whole.
After 15 to 20 minutes of interviews, a tour of the Nike campus was organized. The reason behind several of the building names was given [all dedicated to top Nike athletes], along with the history behind the brand and several of its key details, such as the ‘swoosh’ logo and name. As a Madison student pointed out, Nike is the name of the Greek goddess of victory.
A group of the students and the Madison high student adviser as they were shown around the Nike campus. This was taken across from the Tiger Woods center, where the summit and awards was held, and is in front of one of the many gyms on campus.
A dinner break was then given after the half hour tour. There was a one hour gap between the this and the beginning of the reception for the Sports Awards. Everett, the host of the show, showed up and gave his own set of advice.
“Everyone looks and says ‘Wow, I want to be like him,’ “ Everett said. “No, you want to be like you. Be yourself.”
He gave his story about climbing the ranks from a sportscaster in Hawaii to getting the job at ESPN. Everett has charm and personality, as a television personality should, and was quite entertaining before he even stepped on stage. As he left, he sent out a cheer of ‘Go Madison!” in dedication to his wife, a Madison alumni, and the students present from the school.
Everett standing in the back of the room as he surprised many of the students present with a quick speech.
Afterwards, several of the students who expressed an interest were given job shadow assignments. I was given a Madison high student as my partner and we followed around Adam, a media relations person from Portland State University who is occasionally asked to help out with the event. From about 6:00 to roughly 7:45 the two of us helped him track down interviewees for the live show, Play Ball. This gave us exclusive peeks into places such as the VIP lounge, the pre-show setup, and the green room as we attempted to track down top athletes and affiliates such as Nat Borchers and Fanendo Ali, players for the Portland Timbers, Gary Payton and his son, Gary Payton II, former and current basketball players for Oregon State, and Tinker Hatfield, a top designer for Nike. Borchers and Ali were especially friendly and partook in conversation with both of us. We even ran into Everett again.
My partner Alex, a student from Madison high, and Nat Borchers, a player for the Timbers and an interviewee we had to seek out and fetch, taken in the male-only green room behind the stage.
Soon, the show started. Half of the first row, Row A, was set aside for the students who attended the summit. This was wonderful, to experience the show up close and personal, giving the best view to take photos and tweet from our chairs. As Everett said, “If you don’t think there’s anything awesome to report tonight-”
“You need awesome lessons,” a voice shouted.
As everyone was being seated, DJ Crystal was playing an excellent mixshow, including snippets from ‘What Do You Mean,’ ‘Cake by the Ocean,” and “7 Years.” All throughout the show she the music was effective and did well in portraying the excitement and energy that came with presenting, or winning an award.
Everett, once again, gave an excellent performance throughout the show. During a “shop-talk” with the nominees for Prep Football Player of the Year, Osawaru Odighizuwa from David Douglas, Jason Talley from Jesuit, Tim Tawa from West Linn, and Justin Herbert from Sheldon, he claimed he had to ask Talley “who he was wearing,” as he was supposedly the best dressed in the building.
“I don’t know,” Talley said. “My mom picked it out.”
Later in the night, two South players came home with awards – Evina Westbrook ‘16 for Prep Basketball Player of the Year, and Ellie Slama ‘16 for Prep Golf Player of the Year. Westbrook was also a Play It Forward Nominee, and a candidate for Carpenter 5A-6A Athlete of the Year. She was present during the summit.
Overall, the awards were an entertaining event. The slideshow of the Media Summit during the show and a shoutout to all the students present was a plus. The summit itself, however, was rewarding all in itself. Not only did it offer wonderful advice to all the budding journalists present, only a few present of whom actually thought they might pursue the career, but also important lessons in physical activity and giving back to the community. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and all the guest speakers and organizers who made it possible, especially Nike. I hope they hold the event again next year for the 2017 Oregon Sports Awards, that Everett will hopefully host again and not “graduate” as he claims he will, and that South will be invited to partake again.
Several photo galleries of the awards can be found through the Oregonian/OregonLive website. Other photos and such can be found using the hashtag #ORSportsAwards on Twitter or Instagram, or information can be seen on the Sports Awards Twitter, @ORSportsAwards.