Vol. 49, No. 3 March 2012 .pdf version
Lenox Rawlings: Change a common denominator
Joe Mitch: Courage Award celebrates 25 years
Dana O'Neil: Summitt, James are Most Courageous
Louisville's Klein wins Katha Quinn Award
Washington Post's Yanda is 2012 Rising Star
Kevin Armstrong: Mentors are critical

Mentors are critical for the next generation

By KEVIN ARMSTRONG / New York Daily News

Bookmark and Share  

On March 10, 2008, a Monday, the MAAC championship game, played between Siena and Rider inside the Times-Union Center of Albany, N.Y., distracted attention from the capital city's biggest news: revelations of Eliot Spitzer's relations with a hooker. I listened to the lurid allegations in my car as I drove north from Manhattan, then parked in a garage across from the arena. March Madness, in a most unlikely way, had started.

Once inside, I met with Pete Thamel of The New York Times and agreed to give him a ride back to Manhattan at game's end in order to watch the Big East tournament's beginning the next day. The Saints, behind 21 points from birthday boy Tay Fisher, ran the Broncs off the floor; Thamel and I filed our reports, then walked to the garage. It was locked. No access until 6 a.m. when it re-opened. I failed to read the sign that states closing time is one hour after the game concluded, and now had no room, but Thamel had yet to check out of his down the block. His chair-sized couch would be my place of rest.

It was not the first time Thamel assisted me, and would not be the last. Whether opening his room or Rolodex, he has served as a mentor during my development as a reporter, under deadline and over beers with Maurice the bartender in Manhattan. His reporting, both by enterprising and investigative means, challenges those competing with him, building storylines from the ground up, but his friendship extends beyond that.

2012 Men's and Women's Final Four Schedules of Events
Buy tickets to the 2012 USBWA College Basketball Awards Breakfast
All-Time Award Winners:
Katha Quinn Award
Most Courageous Award
Rising Star Award

The true value of a mentor can be immeasurable. Since first writing for my school paper, The Heights, at Boston College in 2002, mentors offered assuring hands down meandering paths. I collect them like guideposts, knowledgeable of the roads they've covered and ones I will likely follow. I've been lucky enough to learn at the side of many, beginning with former Boston Globe managing editor Tom Mulvoy and alongside Sports Illustrated's team of Luke Winn, Tim Layden and B.J. Schecter. Their examples provide models for success.

They all complement each other. Mulvoy, an understated newspaperman, marked Latin notes in his writers' margins, pushing them to improve while allowing them the space to learn. Winn, an elegant writer with a new-age comprehension of statistics and endless interest in the international aspects of the game, repeatedly challenges other writers to think wider and deeper about issues in the game. Layden, lastly, burns the candle on both ends better than anyone I know, capable of balancing a plethora of responsibilities while writing each story as if it is the sole assignment he has on his plate.

The focus is forever on what's next in reporting, but the most valuable lessons lie in what has been written and reported in the past, particularly now that so much is available in writers' archives.

I continue to study long-form features, exhaustive projects and nuanced reports.

Study the people who put out the product as well. Better yet, befriend them.

Their voices provide you with needed advice. Their generosity can grease the rails for the next generation as well.

Armstrong is the 2011 winner of the Rising Star Award.

February 2021
December 2020
June 2020
January 2020
November 2019
May 2019
March 2019
January 2019
November 2018
May 2018
March 2018
January 2018
November 2017
May 2017
March 2017
January 2017
November 2016
May 2016
March 2016
January 2016
November 2015
May 2015
March 2015
January 2015
November 2014
May 2014
March 2014
January 2014
November 2013
May 2013
March 2013
January 2013
November 2012
May 2012
March 2012
January 2012
November 2011
August 2011
May 2011
March 2011
February 2011
November 2010
May 2010
March 2010
February 2010
November 2009
May 2009
April 2009
February 2009
November 2008
May 2008
April 2008
February 2008
November 2007
May 2007
March 2007
February 2007
November 2006
May 2006
March 2006
January 2006
November 2005
May 2005 (.pdf)
March 2005 (.pdf)
January 2005 (.pdf)
November 2004 (.pdf)
May 2004 (.pdf)
March 2004 (.pdf)
January 2004 (.pdf)
November 2003 (.pdf)
May 2003 (.pdf)
March 2003 (.pdf)
January 2003 (.pdf)
November 2002 (.pdf)
January 2002 (.pdf)
November 2001 (.pdf)