At Penn State’s Main Campus towards the end of March, a group of about 100 high school students recognized as the top student journalists by Pennsylvania School Press Association represented six different regions across PA for a one-day competition. One of those students, competing as a newspaper sports writer, was Avonworth’s own JJ Igims.
His road started in the regional round at Point Park University in November, where he finished in first place for Newspaper Sports Writing in the Western region to advance to the state finals.
JJ’s task at the state finals was to cover a press conference by the THON staff, taking detailed notes and asking questions to help develop a sports angle. JJ was one of a handful of students to ask a question during the busy press conference.
“The press conference with the people in charge of THON was very inspiring”, said Igims, “as they described all the work they put in and how many people participated in making THON a reality.”
After the competition, which gave an hour for JJ and others to create their story, the students enjoyed a full day of Journalism-centered activities on campus. An alumni now working for Sports Illustrated talked via Skype to the students, encouraging them to write often and build up their portfolios. A professor from the School of Communications also spoke to the student journalists about covering press conferences and gave them advice for future experiences like this one.
An unexpected perk was a private tour of campus for Igims, as no other students took advantage of the tour option.
As the day drew to a close around 3:30, awards were announced, including JJ earning a very respectable 2nd place. “Even though I didn’t win, I’m excited to try and make it back next year to see what the next press conference and competition brings” said Igims.
Igims also won further respect from his current advisor.
“I was impressed enough by JJ just winning the region in November. Every write-off competition is challenging. You usually have about an hour to take a list of hypothetical facts, statistics and quotations and create an engaging, polished story with a strict word limit. He really showed his talent for sports writing right there at Point Park by winning the region. The PSPA competition at Penn State is even more intense, so he did really well for writing the article and especially getting in a question during a very busy press conference,” said Tuffiash. “I’m looking forward to seeing JJ back at Point Park and hopefully Penn State next year. It would be great to see him take from what he learned this year and build on that.”