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Vol. 49, No. 3 • March 2012 • .pdf version
Washington Post's Yanda is 2012 Rising Star winner
Steve Yanda's road to the USBWA's Rising Star Award has sent him crisscrossing the United States, to a foreign country and to the sharp end of a former Notre Dame forward's chin.
Yanda, 24, who covers Virginia for the Washington Post, is the third recipient of the honor given to a member of the USBWA who is under 30 and has distinguished himself in our profession. Past winners include Dan Wolken (then of the Memphis Commercial Appeal) and Kevin Armstrong of the New York Daily News.
Yanda has also covered Maryland for the Post and helped with coverage of Gary Williams' retirement and the search for his successor.
Yanda also teamed with Eric Prisbell to place second in the APSE writing contest in project reporting (over 250,000 circulation) for a three-part series on Williams' recruiting missteps since winning the Terrapins' national title run in 2002.
They also teamed to break a story last fall that Michael Beasley had filed a civil suit that contended that Bell Sports Incorporated President Joel Bell bankrolled Curtis Malone's nationally recognized DC Assault summer basketball program and that, in return, Malone steered Beasley to Bell for professional representation. Yanda later got Gregory M. Holloway, the chairman of a D.C.-based certified public accounting and consulting firm, to admit that he provided Beasley and his mother with financial benefits and a car while Beasley played at Kansas State.
"Steve is a very aggressive, fearless reporter, a tireless worker," Prisbell said. "From working closely with him on a variety of stories, I can say that his reporting instincts, ability to read individuals and ability to cultivate relationships with sources are well beyond most others his age.
"He's also versatile. He's covered his share of the summer AAU scene as well as athletic department budget issues. And because of his well-placed sources, he is used quite often anytime we have coaching searches here. He contributed important news and leads in the stories involving the firing of Ralph Friedgen, the hiring of Randy Edsall and the hiring of Mark Turgeon, just to name a few significant ones. We would not have been as competitive on those stories without Steve's work."
When Virginia failed to make last season's NCAA Tournament, Yanda covered VCU's Final Four run and wrote on Shaka Smart's personal history and some of the racial tensions that Smart encountered while growing up.
Also in 2009, Yanda was sent to Venezuela to spend five days with Maryland star Greivis Vazquez in Vazquez's native homeland for a story in Washington Post Magazine.
That wouldn't be the wildest trip of Yanda's career. In November 2010, he went on a two-week road trip that began on Nov. 17 with a trip from D.C. to Palo Alto, Calif., where he reported on a story on the sons of former Washington lobbyist Bill Phillips and covered the Virginia men's basketball team's game at Stanford the next night. On Nov. 19, he flew to Boston to cover the Virginia football team's game at Boston College. On Nov. 21, he flew to Hawaii to cover Virginia in the Maui Invitational over the next four days. He returned to D.C. on Nov. 25, and that night his car was broken into and his backpack that included his recorder, computer and notes was stolen. On Nov. 26, his car window, tape recorder, notebook and computer were replaced and he headed to Blacksburg, Va., for the Virginia-Virginia Tech football game. He drove back to D.C. on Nov. 28 and flew on Nov. 29 to Minneapolis for Virginia's ACC/Big Ten challenge game at Minnesota. He returned to D.C. the following day.
"It was totally exhausting," Yanda said, "and totally awesome."
Finally, former Rising Star winner Armstrong reports that the 5-foot-5 Yanda is willing to play hurt.
"He also survived an elbow from former Notre Dame forward Zach Hillesland (who's 6-9) during a pickup game at the Final Four in Indy," Armstrong said. "Yanda needed stitches under the chin but still managed to write his gamer."
Other Rising Star nominees included 16-year-old sports broadcaster Joey Brander; Eamonn Brennan of ESPN.com; Michael Cohen of the Daily Orange; Baxter Holmes of the Los Angeles Times; Brendan F. Quinn of Nooga.com; Aaron Smith of the Kentucky Kernel; and Jonathan Tannenwald of Philly.com.
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