By Sam Coombs
Currently a senior at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio graduating in May. I am from Harpswell, Maine and graduated from Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham, Maine in 2013. I attended SMCC in 2013 and 2014 where I majored in Communications & New Media. SMCC was a great place to get my start and figure out who I wanted to be as a student and a professional. In high school I wasn’t a great student and didn’t have much ambition. SMCC really helped change my mindset as a student and as a young professional.
My initial plan was to play baseball at SMCC but I was cut from the team which was devastating at first but I quickly figured out a way to channel my love for sports and it actually became the best thing that could have happened to me. I always say out of every bad thing can come a greater good. That greater good was working for the SMCC Beacon under the guidance of Chuck Ott and Rachel Guthrie. Rachel was nice enough to think of me as someone to guide the sports page and I immediately found a purpose. I gained confidence, credible skills and a passion for quality work. While I was the sports editor for the Beacon I got to develop story ideas, cover SMCC sports and even attend a Boston Celtics game as a journalist. It was quite the experience and an opportunity I was fortunate to get. I then made a goal that I wanted to someday work in an NBA media setting hopefully representing and promoting a specific team and organization.
I started to look at life as a staircase and realized that the Beacon could be a stepping stone to my next endeavor which is when I got an internship at the Times Record in Brunswick as a sports photojournalist intern. Through the help of others, I was able to take another step and learn some valuable skills in return. I focused on goal setting for each day, week, month and years to come. I channeled my energy from the things I was taught at SMCC and transferred to Kent State University to study Digital Media and work in a Division I athletics setting.
After my first semester at Kent State, I returned to Maine and got an opportunity to be the Assistant Media Director for the Senior Little League World Series tournament in Bangor where baseball teams from all over the world came to compete for a title. The World Championship game was actually broadcasted on ESPN and I was fortunate enough to connect with one of the broadcasters and formed a mentor relationship with him in the months to come. I had read a lot about how finding a mentor was a big part of success and developing a relationship with Steve Lenox whom I met in Bangor was a big turning point for me. I returned to Kent State, channeled that energy and confidence from the summer and was able to land a great opportunity as a Production & Operations Intern at Fox Sports Ohio in Cleveland. I was fortunate enough to start my internship during the MLB playoffs as the Cleveland Indians fought through the ALDS, ALCS and eventually reaching the World Series. It was a very unique and fulfilling experience that I once again used as a stepping stone in my life’s staircase.
I then reconnected with Steve Lenox from ESPN and tried to develop my networking skills which are very important to the sports media industry and continued my relationship with him. He was a great attributer to my success and confidence and ended up helping me secure a summer internship as a media relations coordinator at USA Baseball in Durham, North Carolina this past summer of 2017. At USA Baseball, I served as an on-site media contact for events at the USA Baseball National Training Complex for United States National Teams during international friendship series and showcase events. I also managed social media accounts consisting of a combined 750,000 followers as well as a lot of writing for the USA Baseball website. It was an unforgettable experience to work around the country’s top baseball players as well as build my network of professionals.
While at USA Baseball I ended up meeting a coach from one of the showcase teams and found out his full-time job was as an assistant coach for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets. I was able to connect with him and he put me in contact with the Denver Nuggets Director of Media Relations which is basically my dream job. After some corresponding back and forth I was granted the chance to fly to Denver and shadow during a game day with the Nuggets. I participated in pre-game coach interviews, courtside in-game stat management as well as post-game player interviews from the locker room. I have been lucky enough to form some great relationships with professionals in the industry and look to continue climbing my staircase and continue goal setting to reach my goal of working in an NBA media environment.
None of this wouldn’t have been possible without the help of those at SMCC, the opportunity the SMCC Beacon provided and the confidence I gained through the guidance of Chuck Ott and Rachel Guthrie. As I approach graduation in May I am excited to see what my future holds and keep those who have helped me close by. My favorite quote is that luck is just a matter of preparation meeting opportunity. Some goals are bigger than others but if you just properly prepare yourself for an opportunity, one day you’ll be lucky enough to get it. My advice would be to find a passion and use that passion to drive your success. No matter what opportunity no matter how big or small is in front of you, put in the effort and connect with people because you never know who is watching.