Steven Boero is a 2020 graduate of Belmont University. He spent a large portion of his college career covering Belmont basketball, and now that his time with the student-run Belmont Vision is done, he is reflecting on all that he learned on his path to becoming a sports reporter.
Becoming a sports writer, specifically basketball writing, was something I never thought I would experience at any level. It was always something I fantasized about doing, like covering the Mets as Oscar Madison from “The Odd Couple” did. But never for real.
But by raising my hand and volunteering to cover a basketball game at a Belmont Vision Monday budget meeting, I took the first step that would change my college experience and my life.
Covering college athletics, specifically men’s and women’s basketball, at Belmont was an absolute privilege. Amazing access to two extremely successful championship-quality teams is something not every college beat writer can say they have. And at a music school like Belmont where interest in sports faltered, I had it all to myself.
Being a sports beat reporter can be incredible, anxious and monotonous all at the same time and all at different times.
Growing as a writer, learning your craft and developing your voice is also a fantastic journey full of fear and excitement, but when you’re on deadline, you definitely feel more of the fear than excitement. Now, imagine all of this on top of taking 16 credit hours each semester for four years. It can be a lot, but it can help you grow as a person and as a future professional reporter.
But with the help of Belmont Vision advisor Dorren Robinson and the rest of the staff, I was able to develop my writing and find my voice. Robinson believed in me when most of the time I didn’t. She took the time to help me grow. Without her I could have never gone on to do what I’ve done.
This is what I discovered in my three years as a sports writer and eventually editor-in-chief at Belmont University.
I was a fan of Belmont basketball and went to almost every game my freshman and sophomore years. The transition from fan to beat reporter was difficult, trying to find a happy medium between being a fan but serving as a fair and responsible reporter. The self-pressure of wanting to produce the best work possible is what really helped me push the fan in me down while allowing the reporter to flourish.
Watching and covering a team always helps when the athletes and coaches around you are willing to give you the time. At Belmont, I didn’t have too difficult of a time getting basketball players for interviews. Belmont athletes are some of best student-athletes I’ve ever been around. They are respectful, smart and eager to win for their team and school. The coaches are the same.
Getting a chance to cover Rick Byrd’s final season at Belmont was another thing I never thought I’d have the privilege to do. Byrd’s father was a sports reporter, so when us reporters wanted an interview or asked a stupid question – which I did a lot at the beginning – he always took time to work with us. He understood our jobs and had a respect for us. The same goes for the entire coaching staff. Coach Byrd set a standard of how to treat media and people in general.
Even though Belmont’s men’s basketball team got most of the attention, the women’s team was just as good and some years better. That program is special and will continue with the amazing athletes recruited by head coach Bart Brooks.
The Bruins’ women’s team was so much fun. The sisterhood and love the players had for each other made every game amazing to watch. There was something different about the team compared to the men’s. They were truly special.
Getting to watch Darby Maggard break almost every record a player could break in a Belmont jersey was nothing short of magic in 2018 and 2019. Her and her teammates always gave the best quotes, constantly bragging about their teammates and coaches and never themselves. They believed they could do anything with the group of girls they had.
Coach Brooks always had time for me and went out of his way to say hi and thank me for my coverage of the team. Brooks was the epitome of class and would answer my questions with nothing but respect. He helped me realize that all I wanted as a reporter was respect.
The only time I had issues was when I criticized the team and tweeted a “hot take” that got some heat from fans and former players. It’s something I always saw from other reporters on Twitter, but I never thought I would get myself in one of those situations. I learned from this that no matter what you say, there are always going to be people who don’t like it and think you’re biased or looking for attention.
I always had amazing people in my corner and support from friends, family and even the fans who knew my intentions weren’t malicious. As long as I stayed true to myself, my work and told the truth, I wouldn’t need to apologize for anything.
Through the good and bad, nothing ever meant more than when current and former Belmont basketball players would talk to me off the clock and tell me that they loved and appreciated my work.
When a former player I loved watching and looked up to as an underclassman said, “You were meant to do this and you have a bright future,” it put everything in perspective and gave me the confidence to go on and keep striving to produce my best work.
Now, as my career as a college reporter for the Belmont Vision comes to an abrupt end because of an unpredictable pandemic, I can say that my time covering Belmont basketball and other athletics were some of the most fun and important experiences of my life.
I am doing what I am meant to do, and I couldn’t be happier knowing that.