Stu­dents pursue sports jour­nalism at Hillsdale.
(Photo: Todd Lan­caster | Courtesy)

When the Hillsdale College men’s bas­ketball team took their talents to the big stage against Michigan State on Nov. 3, they weren’t the only ones hitting the big leagues.

Aspiring sports jour­nalists — and sports fans from a young age — sopho­mores Nathan Grime and MaryKate Drews were able to sit on the side­lines with pro­fes­sional media. From pho­to­jour­nalism to print to radio, a core group of Hillsdale stu­dents are making names for them­selves on campus as budding sports jour­nalists, shooting games with pro­fes­sionals, con­tributing to baseball blogs, and hosting radio shows.

“The Michigan State game was the first time I got to expe­rience a more pro­fes­sional atmos­phere,” Grime said. “I got to sit at the media table and be there for the post-game press con­ference where Tom Izzo was talking, which was a really cool expe­rience.”

Drews, whose favorite sport is bas­ketball, agreed.

“Every­thing is in such close quarters, which makes it feel totally dif­ferent from shooting another sport like football,” she said.

Drews’ father, a pho­tog­rapher who took pic­tures of her and her brothers at sporting events, sparked Drews’ passion for pho­tog­raphy, but it took a little pes­tering. By high school, she said, she finally decided to give it a try, and was glad she did.

“He was com­pletely self-taught — aside from a single night class he took — but is com­pletely bril­liant when it comes to the camera, so nat­u­rally I am doing my best to keep up with him,” Drews said. “He has been so gra­cious with teaching me every­thing he knows. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think I would be any­where close to where I am today, and I will forever be grateful for that.”

Drews pho­tographed the Michigan State vs. Indiana football game this past October. She found a Detroit-based sports pho­tog­rapher named Mike Mul­holland who shoots for the Lions, Tigers, and Wings, as well as Michigan State. He was extremely gra­cious, she said — even letting her use one of his lenses as she shot on the sideline.

The weirdest part, she said, was how natural shooting the game felt.

“During that game, I couldn’t picture myself really ever doing some­thing outside of sports,” Drews said. “The only time I got a little too giddy is when I turned to my right during the third quarter and Tom Izzo was a foot away from me.”

The gid­diness is nothing com­pared to the feeling she said she gets seeing her final product.

“I love the idea that pho­tog­raphy is a way to freeze a moment in time forever,” Drews said. “The reason I focus mostly on sports pho­tog­raphy is because ath­letics has always been some­thing I’ve enjoyed. Being inside a gym or on a field with a camera in my hand is probably the most com­fortable I have ever felt.”

Like Drews, Grime’s lifelong love of sports — and of his home team, the St. Louis Car­dinals — inspired him to pursue sports jour­nalism.  

“Watching them when I was a little kid, I really started to have interest in sports jour­nalism, because I would watch games on TV and then write game recaps,” Grime said. “I’d show those to my mom and she would act like I was giving her the news of what hap­pened in the game.”

Grime has covered Hillsdale football this year as an assistant sports editor for the Col­legian. He also writes edi­to­rials and blog posts for a St. Louis Car­dinals’ blog. Through his writing, he said he hopes to expand the network of readers and one day land a job in this field.

“It can be a little bit daunting at first because you think, ‘How am I going to get to the point where this is my pro­fes­sional job one day?’” Grime said. “But really, in my limited expe­rience and talking to other people that have made it, they say to do as much as you can to get things pub­lished, and you’ll get there before you know it.”

Several other stu­dents on campus pursue sports jour­nalism through radio broad­casting at WCSR, Radio Free Hillsdale 101.7 FM, or both.

Sopho­mores Martin Petersen and Jake Sievers co-host a show on Radio Free Hillsdale called “Charger Rundown.” The half-hour show, which usually airs on Wednesdays, recaps Hillsdale College sports from the past weekend and pre­views the upcoming games. They also interview two ath­letes each week from every sports team in season.

Besides “Charger Rundown,” Sievers also hosts an hour-long show called “The Has Beens,” where he and two juniors talk all things NFL and present a five-minute rundown of the important national sports stories of the week. He always closes with Hillsdale College sports updates.

A Hillsdale native, Petersen has had the chance to work with WCSR since he was in sixth grade.

“I really got inter­ested because of my love for sports and sitting down and talking with other people about them,” Petersen said. “I always liked lis­tening to how dif­ferent broad­casters and jour­nalists took dif­ferent approaches to things. I even used to mute the TV and do the broad­casting on my own.”

Petersen said working with local sports radio per­son­ality Andy Brown from WCSR has allowed him to take his interest to new levels.

“It’s a lot of fun working with Andy,” Peterson said. “I really like doing color com­men­tating for bas­ketball games with him. I think that’s where I have the most fun because it’s live action, it’s right in front of you, and you get to think on the fly.”

Sievers, also a lifelong sports lover, said he realized in junior high that he was good, but not good enough to be a pro­fes­sional athlete. The next best thing, he rea­soned, would be to talk about sports on TV or the radio. He acknowl­edged, however, it won’t be easy to get there.

“I know it’s going to be tough to get a job in this field because it’s so com­pet­itive and because so many people are tal­ented and want the same thing that I do. But it’s my passion, it’s always been my passion, and so I’m just gonna go for it and whatever happens, happens,” Sievers said.

As com­pet­itive as this field is, Matt Mel­chior ’15 proves it’s pos­sible to break into it. Mel­chior even started working in sports early, while still in college. Now, he is a Premium Sales Manager for the Detroit Lions and is respon­sible for the sales and retention of all premium hos­pi­tality inven­tories.

With the help of Career Ser­vices, Mel­chior landed a sales job in minor league baseball the spring of his junior year, first with the High Desert Mav­ericks (Single A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners) and then after a season with them, he worked with the Toledo Mud Hens (AAA Affiliate of the Detroit Tigers) and the Toledo Walleye (ECHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings).

Working with Toledo teams meant regular com­mutes to the city and special arrange­ments with his pro­fessors.

“The pro­fessors and the college were extremely flexible allowing me to work full time as a student while com­pleting my coursework,” Mel­chior said.

After a year with the teams in Toledo, he reached out to a director with the Detroit Lions, and when an oppor­tunity arose, he took the job.

“Hillsdale did an incredible job at putting me in touch with the right people. Getting a big job is great, but getting the right job and working with great people is more important,” Mel­chior said.

For current Hillsdale stu­dents pur­suing the same field, Melchior’s story is an encour­agement to keep going.

“The sports industry has allowed me to meet some really great people and have some great expe­ri­ences,” Mel­chior said. “I love what I do.”