It is the last day of the program, and I cannot believe this is the final blog post I will write. This week has been amazing. I met 18 incredible teenagers who not only share my interest in journalism but also are just incredibly fun, and I will miss them all greatly.
Besides having fun with my fellow campers, this week has been jam-packed with truly unique experiences. I got to participate press conference with Stony Brook’s Athletic Director Shawn Heilbron, learned photography from the Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist John Williams, interviewed cancer survivors and baseball fans, learned how a news broadcast is made and got to see an actual newsroom at Newsday.
The thing I most valued about this program was it made me go outside my comfort zone. I had to interview complete strangers, which was at first absolute terrifying because working for my school newspaper Tarmac, I usually knew my interview subjects. But after several interviews, I began to relax and really enjoyed conducting the interviews. Besides the interviewing, I also had to take and edit stills and video, which I had never had to do for my school program. But, doing all these things gave me valuable experience that I hope to use back at the Tarmac.
In closing, I would like to thank to all the professors for all the hard work they did and my fellow Greene Team members for being the funny, creative, and awesome. You guys made the week fly by and I hope to see you all again.
Baseball has always been America’s pastime but is it still the kids’ favorite pastime? Will kids put down their electronic devices long enough to watch the game in front of them?
For a July 23rd Ducks game at Bethpage Ballpark, there were families of all ages. Kids wore baseball gloves on their hands and baseball hats on their heads. For some, this was their first Ducks game; others had been there before. Kids had foam fingers on their hands, quackers in their mouths, and smiles on their faces.
Little League teams, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts attended the game. The Metro-Gnomes, a youth violinist group, played the Star-Spangled Banner. As they played, fireworks exploded overhead.
Some fans came more for the sport than for the entertainment at the park.
“My favorite thing about playing baseball is being with my friends,” said Brandon Vlacancich, 13. “It’s a fun sport to play.” Chris Mchugh, 8, of Commack, added: “My favorite thing about coming to a baseball game is the home runs.” A shortstop and pitcher for the Commack North Little League team, Chris said he also believes baseball is still America’s pastime.
Tom Hazell of East Islip, an outfielder who cited baseball’s worldwide popularity, said he really enjoys participating in the sport.
“My favorite thing about playing baseball is just playing because it’s always fun.” he said.
And Mason Holland, 10, of Cooperstown — home of the Baseball Hall of Fame — said: “My favorite thing about baseball is hitting the ball and having fun.”
Still, other fans study the professional players to improve their own skills on the diamond.
”I like coming to a Ducks game because it helps me learn baseball,” said Patrick McNelis, 13, who said he thought baseball was still popular.
Bethpage Ballpark is home to more than just the minor league baseball team, the Long Island Ducks.
It is also hosts a September 11th memorial, with a steel beam from the World Trade Center site and a plaque, the only one of its kind to list all 490 names of Long Islanders who perished during the attacks.
The beam was dedicated to the founder and CEO of the Ducks, Frank Boulton, as well as to the team itself, by the World Trade Center Foundation in a ceremony on Sept. 11, 2012. A year later, the plaque was added in yet another ceremony on the 2013 anniversary of the attacks.
“Our founder and CEO Frank Boulton knew folks that perished in the attacks that day, so I know it’s near and dear to his heart,” said Michael Polak, the Media Relations and Broadcasting Manager for the Ducks. “We had, for both ceremonies, a very good turnout of fans that were out on the plaza. It’s always received a positive response and fans are happy that we have some way to remember what happened that day.”
Not all fans realize the memorial is there, stationed outside the ballpark in front of the smoking area between the East and West Gates.
“I honestly didn’t even see it. Wow,” said Suzanne Cascio. “I was rushing in and I totally passed it.”
Fellow Ducks fan Jimmy Falk was also unaware of the memorial.
“I’ve been coming here for years and this is the first I’m hearing of it,” he said.
Upon learning of the memorial, though, Falk was pleased.
“I think it’s terrific,” he said. “I think especially as New Yorkers, we need to be aware of it. Everybody that lives on Long Island was touched by that event, and somebody knows somebody whose name is on that plaque, without a doubt. Now that I’m aware of it, I’m going to look for it.”
When the memorials were unveiled, the ceremonies were announced on the Ducks’ website, though since then, no additional promotion has been done.
“I didn’t even know it was outside,” said fan Laura Jensen. “If they just had a poster or something somewhere, people would probably go visit it.”
Andrew Rella is one fan that knew about the structure, and his response was positive.
“I’m a UPS driver,” Rella said, “and I’ve delivered this route before, so I saw when they were building it. You know, my uncle was a paramedic that day and was back and forth to St. Vincent’s [hospital] a thousand times. Friends of mine that drive for UPS in the city helped evacuate people out of there. So to me — my brother’s a marine – he’s been overseas. It has a lot of special meaning for me.”
From the moment the Metro-Gnomes, a youth violinist group from Bay Shore, did an unusual rendition of the National Anthem before Wednesday’s Ducks game, it was clearly a night for the kids.
“I’m a baseball fan myself, and I have a lot of little boys who also like baseball and I thought it would be a really fun thing to do,” Thalia Greenhalgh, teacher of the Metro-Gnomes, said. The young boys performed in front of the large audience and received huge applause.
Ten- year-old Mia Grello of Bay Shore said this was her third year with the Metro-Gnomes. “I like playing in front of everyone because I think everyone likes to hear the violin,” she said. “You know, it’s like, it’s a nice instrument.”
Gregory Reardon, a 9-year-old Cub Scout from East Northport, said he came “to watch the Ducks crush the other team,” and that this is not his first time being at a Ducks game. “The Ducks are gonna crush ‘em by like 10 runs,” Gregory said. Unfortunately for him, the Ducks lost, 11-3.
The Lacey Township All-Stars, a youth baseball team, came to Central Islip from New Jersey where they are representing the area in the Eastern Regional tournament. “I’m feeling a win,” Keith Apostolos, a 14-year-old Lacey player.
Commack North’s baseball team is participating in the same tournament. “Well, they’re [the Ducks] not winning right now, but they might come back,” 12-year-old player, Timmy McHugh said.
Evan Wallis, a 14-year-old Commack player, offered an observation that could apply to the Ducks as well as his team’s upcoming game in the tournament. “We can win if we have just enough hitting and enough defense,” he said.
Long Islanders flocked to Bethpage Ballpark for Wednesday night’s Ducks game against Bridgeport, but is there a cross-Sound rivalry?
“They have one?” said Ducks fan Jonathan Softy.
“I don’t know how much of a rivalry it is, being that Bridgeport doesn’t draw much. I’d like to see it improve, but I don’t know if it will,” said Dan Erickson.
There was a limited number of Bluefish fans and a lot of cheerful Long Island kids and adults. One Bluefish fan did have an idea about why there so few in the crowd.
“Getting people from Bridgeport to here is pretty tough. With the ferry it is not exactly easy,” said Dan Cunningham, a Bluefish fan.
The Ducks have not had a good season but that doesn’t take away from the crowd and energy from the ballpark. The Ducks have endured an 11-game losing streak as of July 23 and fans believe the players are feeling the pressure.
“Any time you have a losing streak you start pressing, I’m sure they feel it ,” said Erickson.
The Bluefish don’t draw at home as well as the Ducks. “Maybe half if they are lucky,” said Cunningham.
The ‘rivalry’ between the Ducks and the Bluefish is not one to break out into chaos. Ducks fans said they don’t trash talk and they like to have fun with their family and enjoy all the aspects a Ducks game has to offer.
“The atmosphere is great, the stuff they do in between innings is great, it keeps the fans involved,” said Cunningham. “The Ducks have a pretty loyal fan base, nothing but good things to say about the Ducks, they are a good organization and run very well.”
Ducks fans do come to the games for the entertainment, enjoy the team and the sport, but some have a die-hard obsession with the minor league team itself.
“I eat, sleep and breathe Ducks, so when I wake up in the morning I just think Ducks all the time, I quack randomly,” said Brian from Patchogue, who asked that his last name not to be used.
“[The Bluefish] are not our kind of team,” added another fan, Jordan Buffy of Selden, who embraced the rivalry with Bridgeport.
So did Brian. “Bluefish? I don’t like seafood,” he said.
The whirlwind day started in Stony Brook’s Studio B, where Prof. Conway showed us the ropes of TV news.
In a word: amazing.
I got to play at being an anchor, film a newsbreak, play on the soundboard and be tech director in the booth. Anchoring was a tad nerve-racking (despite my teleprompter blunders, I do know how to read, I swear), but the best job by far was tech director. Clicking buttons to switch cameras and move effects onscreen probably doesn’t sound all that fun, but you’ll have to take my word that it was a blast.
Next in the day’s long line-up was a talk on covering sports with Newsday Reporter and Editor Bob Herzog. While I’m certainly not a sports person, I found his to be one of the most interesting presentations of the week.
From there, it was off to Newsday to see what a real newsroom and other aspects of real-life journalism looked like. Seeing the timeline stretching around the halls was eye-opening as well – who knew that the paper on my dining room table each morning had such a rich history?
What was especially intriguing was the session after we walked the halls. In a special tour room, various Newsday professionals came in to tell about their jobs and answer questions. While each testimony was valuable, my favorite was that of Matt Clark, investigative reporter. The job sounds not only super-cool (he recounted a story he’d uncovered about a multi-state movie theater scam) but genuinely rewarding as well.
And next on the itinerary was a Ducks game at Bethpage Ballpark – Ducks v. Bluefish after the Ducks’ ten-game losing streak (pft, and I said I wasn’t a sports person). My team, Team Wasumesauce (as in “awesome sauce” with Prof. Ahmad’s name in front – I was pushing for “Wasim’s Dream Team,” but I digress) was covering the supposed rivalry between the two teams. The issue, however, was that Bluefish fans were nowhere to be found (that is, until the tail-end of the night, when a man in a Bluefish hat and shirt came to save the day).
As a reporter for that segment, my job involved asking random people if they’d like to be interviewed (or, for a large chunk of the beginning, if they were Bluefish fans – the answer a resounding “no”). Approaching people in the ballpark and asking them questions on camera ended up being a ton of fun. It felt like a real and serious job. (I even tried to speak in my best television voice, picturing the reporters on CNN.)
The team gathered useable material and some great soundbites about the rivalry between the teams (one man insisted he ate, slept, and breathed Ducks – even quacking at random).
I can’t tell much about the game itself, other than the fact that I had a great time (and got some great ballpark popcorn). I can’t wait to put the Ducks story together with my team and see how the final product comes out.
On the ride home, after a night of reporting and laughing, Prof. Herzog regaled us with another talk on sports reporting, and the techniques he uses to tell a different story each time (even though, to a non-fan like myself, sports games don’t seem all that different from one another).
While I can’t say I plan on becoming a sports reporter, the stories about his career were incredibly interesting. Prior to his lecture, I would have written sports journalism off as something bland and monotonous. Bob Herzog’s stories, however, bring that field to life in a genuinely exciting light.
I’ve learned so much so fast – I feel like a real journalist at work!
Day 4 (Wednesday): Today was field trip day. We left the newsroom, a rarity. In the morning we went to Studio B to learn about broadcast. I rocked the teleprompter while we put on a news report. Apparently, that is the highest position I could ever receive in broadcast. I was told my messy camp hair was not acceptable for in front of the camera when it was my turn to anchor. Following broadcast, we attended Newsday for insight from on-the-job reporters and editors. Hearing everyone’s stories of how they ended up at Newsday was so interesting. While at Newsday, the Greene Team received another shirt from Kidsday. Being the immature dorks that we are, Reid and I tied them around our necks like capes. Reid said he was Superwoman, so he has that going for him.
After Newsday we were off to see the Ducks to report on the game. My team’s angle was “Is America’s favorite pastime alive and well?” After interviewing dozen adorable kids we came to the conclusion that although other sports on the island are becoming more popular than in previous generations, Baseball is still a big part of the American sports culture and will be for years to come. I can’t wait to start writing and editing the video package. Becoming more sleep deprived everyday, I couldn’t wait to get back in bed.
My feet are sore, my eyes are barely open, and I feel as if I’m going to fall asleep any second.
Wednesday was fun. We got to go into Studio B and played with different broadcast journalism equipment. That was fun. Then we went to Newsday and I got to see pictures of my grandfather and hear stories that made me cry because I was proud. I haven’t really talked about him for a long time.
Then, at the Ducks game, they lost big but we didn’t stay for the whole game. We interviewed 12 kids and took pictures. I ate fries, ice cream, and cotton candy. We got back to our dorms around 10:30 p.m.
This morning, I didn’t get woken up until 6:50 a.m. I put my hair in a bun, put on some foundation, brushed my teeth, and got dressed. Now all I want to do is sleep.
It’s so bad for us kids to be up so early and sleeping so late. Every time we have a speaker I’m just trying to stay awake. I need an energy drink ASAP!!!
I’m excited for this to be over so I can be able to sleep.
Share this ...
The Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists