Doing what she loves
High school athletes often dream of making an impact on the sports world in any way possible. Some aim to make a dent as college or professional athletes.
Others, like Alcona’s Kendra Cole, take a different route. Cole spent the 2013 football season as a stringer for the Alcona County Review and is looking to turn her love of sports into a career in sports broadcasting.
“I guess I knew that when I get older I want to get into broadcasting and that sports would be my best interest. Sports are pretty much my life,” Cole said.
Cole, a junior at Alcona plays basketball and softball. She is the starting center for the girls basketball team and and also a starting pitcher for the softball team.
Her career at the Alcona County Review started when the paper was looking for somebody to cover football.
“We were looking for somebody to cover football and she volunteered to try. She’d never done it before,” Alcona County Review editor Cheryl Peterson said.
Cole jumped head first into her assignments with the focus and dedication of a professional.
“(She was immediately) very good at it. A quick study and a real pleasure to work with,” Peterson said.
Cole attended every Alcona football game and took notes during each game. She kept track of each play and interviewed players to get a feel for the game. Then she would turn in a game story.
Alcona’s football team gave her a lot to write about: The Tigers went undefeated in the regular season and picked up the school’s first football playoff win. They also set school records for scoring and yards gained.
Cole really dug in for her story on Alcona’s victory over Whittemore-Prescott, a 28-26 double-overtime triumph.
“(When they beat Whittemore) I interviewed past coaches that had faced Whittemore before. I interviewed the coach the last time they beat them. I wanted to make a really full story that would be interesting to read,” Cole said.
Cole sits down and writes her stories after each game. Once she is finished, she sits down with Peterson who gives her tips on how to shape each story. Often, it takes her several hours to finish a story.
Cole’s dedication and focus to her stories doesn’t shock her father, Alcona girls basketball coach Brad Cole.
“Kendra is very smart and she is very quick to absorb things. She takes her work very seriously and works hard at everything she does,” Brad said.
Cole’s sports writing duties must be balanced with her school work needs. In spite of other time demands, she takes great pains to make sure her stories are well written and done on time.
“She never missed a deadline. If she was going to be late, she’d always let me know. Not everybody understands that about newspaper deadlines and it was amazing that somebody her age did and was very conscientious about it,” Peterson said.
The Alcona County Review has already lined up stringers for the winter sports season, but Peterson is hoping that Cole’s role will grow to include next year’s spring sports.
“If she’s able to (cover spring sports), we’d love to have her, if it works out with her classes. I don’t want to give her more than she can handle,” Peterson said.
In the spring, Cole will have to balance her coverage with school and her time with the softball team. Obviously, she will be unable to write about the softball team, but may be able to cover baseball and track.
“Baseball and softball always play the same day. But, we never play at the same time, so I could cover some of the baseball games after my game is done. I’d probably have to talk to coaches and fans in the stands to get a feel for what happened earlier in the game,” Cole said.
Cole’s experiences not only expanded her knowledge of football, but has also increased her interest in pursuing sports journalism. She is keeping her media format options open by working as an intern for the 107.7 radio station.
“I put events in the calendar, make PSAs and do that kind of stuff. I really enjoy writing for the paper and working for the radio station, so when I go to college, I’ll probably just study general broadcasting for awhile, until I find which (format) I prefer,” Cole said.
Peterson believes that Cole will have big success in whatever format she chooses.
“What’s wonderful about Kendra is she is like a sponge, she listens and does her very best to follow directions and not everybody does that. She’s very conscientious and from the school’s point of view, she was very easy to work with. It was a win-win-win situation: it’s a win for us, a win for the school and a win for Kendra,” Peterson said.
Eric Benac can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.