Anticipation builds and so does the scrum as 9 a.m. draws closer. The reporters have gathered in Exhibit Hall K of the Indiana Convention Center for the start of the National Football League Scouting Combine. Joe Burrow is set to appear at Podium 3. I stand firm towards the front of this collection of media members, working my way to be as close as I can to hear the potential first choice in the draft and the future quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals.
I used to watch the Combine on television. Never did I think that one day I would be in the big media scrum around the top prospects of the draft. These prospects are close to my age, and they are living their dream while I am living mine.
Sports have always been a big part of my life. I wanted to play it, watch it, eat it, drink it and live it. I wanted a career in sports, not as a professional athlete, but somehow, someway working in sports. I came to enjoy writing and see what I could create with my words. It became clear to me during my junior and senior year of high school that I wanted to write about sports.
I searched and searched for colleges that had sports journalism programs. I discovered that IUPUI had this program so I decided to stay home. I knew absolutely no one at the school. I was a loner who was trying to learn how to become a better writer and learn the sports business.
After three and a half years of learning and preparation, I have two major football events under my belt. I covered the 2019 Big Ten Championship Football Game and now I am here at the Combine.
Being at the Combine has been quite the experience. I have never done anything like this. Where am I supposed to go? What am I supposed to do? On top of those questions that I am answering on the fly, oh by the way, Joe Burrow, the projected number one pick, is about to speak to the media. I fought my way through the crowd of media members, tripping over camera cords and trying not to bump my head on people raising their phones to record every word Burrow was about to say.
Between the questions in my head and my nimble footwork, I couldn’t help but stop and just take in all the chaos. I am standing just a few feet away from Joe Burrow, a national champion at Louisiana State and likely number one draft choice.
I have only seen guys of that caliber on TV. What makes me so special that I have the opportunity to stand in front of them in person? I still do not understand it. I am so thankful for the privilege to be at the Combine and stand among some of the most prominent sports writers and personalities. Just this morning I walked past Hall of Famer Cris Carter twice. I loved watching his highlights and watching him on TV!
I stood next Matthew Berry and John Clayton. Berry helped me with my fantasy teams and Clayton had all the latest news on ESPN. Josina Anderson and Suzy Kolber were walking around trying to hear what these guys are saying, just like I am. I’m not sure but a smile might have been on my face that entire first day.
Waking up at 5:30 in the morning every day isn’t that bad when you get to come talk to some of the best athletes in the world and walk the halls with NFL head coaches, general managers and TV personalities that you admire. I can’t thank the Sports Capital Journalism Program enough. If you want to be a sports writer, Indianapolis and IUPUI is where you want to be.
By Bryce Shadday | @Bryce_Shadday