The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic was still several hours away when colleague Jessica Wimsatt and I headed from the press box at the top of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, to the artificial surface for a pre-game video analysis. When we were finished, we returned to the elevator to make the discovery that here was Challenger, the Bald Eagle whose flights have taken place during the playing of the national anthem at sporting events and other occasions for more than 20 years.
Since I had been assigned to cover Michigan State, it became clear as the Spartans struggled during a 38-0 defeat that the postgame interviews would become that much more important. The details related to Michigan State’s frustration had already become clear to a national audience. As I followed the Spartans off the field and headed for their dressing room, I could see they were in a really sad place after the loss. It was a challenge to try to capture their emotions. Between their quotes as they attempted to describe their disappointment and their visible expressions of sadness, I had to be observant. Details as minute as a player’s puffy eyes or stern face are what create that picture and help readers understand the ordeal the Spartans experienced.
It was an honor to come to Dallas, meet the Michigan State players and tell some of their stories. The players and coaches were all so gracious and respectful, even when dealing with such a difficult defeat. They didn’t treat Jessica or I any differently than much more experienced reporters.
This experience allowed me to grow as a journalist. Getting to work at an event of this magnitude, with all its logistical challenges, provided a real-world experience like no other. We had a job to do, just like every other media member. It has given me confidence that I might actually be able to do this.
— Elizabeth Cotter | @ekcotter18