I have been a journalist for about the last six years of my life. In that time, one aspect of the job never seems to get any easier for me. The interview is still the most difficult task of being a journalist. Going up to someone you don’t know and asking them a question that they probably will not like, it still scares me to death. However, in sports journalism, the interview is a must of almost every story.
Bob Knight will always be one of the most dreaded people of all-time for a journalist to interview. The man really had an actual hate for news media. If he wasn’t cussing at them, he was refusing to answer them. He once said that journalists were only a few steps above prostitutes. In another quote, he said that when he dies, he wants to be buried upside down, so his critics could kiss his ass. My job is to try and interview some people like this.
Not all coaches are bad though. I have learned, especially here at UC Irvine, that there are coaches who go out of their way to accommodate journalists. The coaches that I have dealt with at this school come off as non-threatening and extremely helpful with any questions I pose to them. I have enjoyed the presence of every single coach that I have had to talk to here at UCI.
The first really big interviews I did with top coaches at UCI took place in the fall of 2007. I was doing a journalism project for one of my classes and I chose to write about the new baseball coaches: Mike Gillespie and Pat Shine. Both men went out of their way to schedule time for me to interview them in their first offseason at UCI together. Coach Shine answered every one of my questions with a smile and even asked me about my background and where I was from, and what I was planning to do in the future. Coach Gillespie provided me with another great experience. Although I had to meet him around 7:30 a.m. for the interview, I still had a great time and ended up talking with him longer than I had expected or needed to. I just picked his mind, since he had been coaching the game of baseball for more than 25 years. What I remember the most was the passion he still had for the game after all those years.
Another newcomer to the UCI coaching ranks who was very helpful to me was Coach Paula Weishoff. I interviewed her for a feature piece in The New University. This interview was all about her. I delved into her background and history and really got to know the new women’s volleyball coach. We concluded the interview with her telling me how much she loved UCI and how everyone had made her feel extremely welcome.
Soccer head coaches George Kuntz (men) and Scott Juniper (women) have always been there, willing to help me. Juniper has told me that he appreciates the coverage The New University has given his team this year. Coach Kuntz proved more accessible then I thought when he gave me some quotes two Sundays ago after winning the Big West Tournament when he was feeding his daughter breakfast.
The man who I have interviewed more than any other coach at UCI has been Head Coach for men’s basketball, Pat Douglass. Coach Douglass has been a fixture at UCI for thirteen years now and still knows how to treat the press. After every game I report on, I know that I will be able to get some great post-game quotes from Coach Douglass no matter the outcome. He will also answer any question or concern that I have.
If you see a UC Irvine coach, of any sport, don’t feel embarrassed to ask them a question or congratulate them. You students are their audience and feedback is always appreciated. Let them know that their job is important to them and to you.