Disclaimer: The following is a Facebook-inspired blog entry …
In 1994, the year I was applying to college, the University of Florida was voted the number-one party school in the country. I had my mind pretty well set on UF, so I only applied to a few other schools (Penn State, because I was a lifelong fan and wanted the acceptance letter; Florida State, because I still wanted to play softball and Miami, because they offered me an academic scholarship and it would make my parents happy) and I was accepted at all of them.
I remember the conversations that year as I tried to convince my parents (especially my dad) that UF was tops in more than just partying. (It was.) And that, once he started going to football games because his cheerleader daughter would get him tickets, he would learn to love Coach Spurrier and the Gators. (He did. Sorta.) But still, I felt the resistance.
That is, until my parents began conducting their own independent research of UF’s journalism program. “Wow, they’re one of the best in the country,” my dad said in his concession speech. At that point, his tune changed. He began telling people his daughter was going to “one of the top-10 journalism programs in the country” instead of “that party school four hours north of here.”
When I graduated in 1999 and entered the real world, I remember meeting folks who had gone to J-schools that, on paper, were supposed to be much fancier than the school from which I’d recently graduated. But I was certain I was more well-prepared than they were. (Some of my colleagues had never heard of an AP Stylebook. I mean, come on.) Because I felt so game-ready, the New York City magazine world wasn’t intimidating. It was exciting. And I was proud to tell people I was a Florida grad.
I started thinking about this lately. Over the past few years, I’ve reconnected with many of my UF classmates while reporting at games and, most recently, through Facebook. So, as final proof that my parents allowed me to make the right decision, I did some research and compiled a list of what a few of my extremely successful friends and classmates from the University of Florida J-school are currently up to. Surprisingly, we did not have a sports-writing program at UF. We did, however, have one terrific sports-writing class, a kick-ass “independent” school paper (The Alligator) and many willing teachers at the Gainesville Sun, Ocala Star Banner and Williston Sun (I worked at all three, and learned so much from my editors at each paper)…
Andrea Adelson is a sports columnist for the Orlando Sentinel (and the wife of my good friend, ESPN The Mag senior writer and alyssaroenigk.com columnist, Eric Adelson).
Spencer Fordin covers the Baltimore Orioles for MLB.com.
Israel Gutierrez is a sports columnist/enterprise reporter for the Miami Herald and a regular on ESPN’s Around the Horn.
Jacob Luft writes an SI.com column called Inside Baseball.
Andy Staples writes an SI.com column called Inside Recruiting.
Jamey Eisenberg is the senior fantasy writer at CBSSportsline.com.
Erin Andrews is a sideline reporter for ESPN.
And I am a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine.
Fred and Joy … I rest my case.
….. Wait. That’s not all! Here are a few more success stories, submitted by Spencer Fordin:
Please, allow me to continue to beat the drum for UF’s Journalism program (and more specifically, the Alligator‘s sports section from 96-99)…
Steve Gorten covers hockey and wears bad bandannas for the Sun Sentinel.
Greg Auman covers colleges and writes for the St. Petersburg Times.
Izzy Gould covers preps and who knows what else, also at the St. Pete Times.
Ryan Hunt toils behind the scenes as an editor for SI.com’s baseball section.
Monique Walker is kicking ass and taking names at the Boston Globe—or was the last time I spoke with her.
Robbie Neiswanger is covering football for the Clarion Ledger in Mississippi.
Carlos Frias has authored a book and is still writing at the Palm Beach Post … until he decides he’s bored with journalism and ready to dominate another field.
Christie Cowles works at MLB.com and is still one of the nicest people on the planet.
Many apologies to anyone I may have forgotten — and much respect to perhaps the best of us, Daryl Presgraves, who has moved on to greener pastures.