How I Got To Tell Your Stories

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With Harnett and surrounding counties’ spring sports season wrapping up, I’m looking forward to having more time to be editorially creative in this space. Summers are slow for sports reporters. So — fingers crossed — I’ll be able to keep y’all entertained each Monday with consistent editions of this column.

After a two-week layoff, I pooled a tight-knit friend list to ask for an idea they thought would make for a shareable story.

One friend’s still thinking, another was recouping from a night in D.C., watching Game 4 of the Eastern Conference NHL Playoffs. The third guy is another of my oldest friends, and he came through with a positive and uplifting idea for a column; my journey from N.Y. to The Daily Record, in Dunn.

As those of you who’ve read columns past are aware, I’m a 33-yearold journalist with less than a decade of experience in print.

I attended college in New York’s state capital and graduated from the University at Albany on my 24th birthday, on May 6, 2009. A month after graduation, I began working for the closest thing to my hometown daily newspaper, 20 minutes from the house I grew up in.

It was short-lived — my three months as a sports clerk.

In 2008, many newspapers were tightening their figurative belts, releasing reporters and cutting corners. I wasn’t a strong page designer, and by September of that year my position had been “eliminated.”

Over the next few years, through trials and tribulation, I worked to find as much work related to my degree as possible.

I hold a Bachelor of Arts in digital and visual media, so when I earned the opportunity to work as a video production assistant for the AA NY Mets affiliate, I leapt at it.

For four springs and three summers I shot live game footage for them, while learning how to work with raw and pre-produced video.

I loved working for the hometown professional baseball club, but admittedly spent hundreds of hours searching for work directly related to my field, submitting hundreds of resumes and going on dozens of interviews.

Finally, in February of 2014, I was offered a job as the sports editor of the neighboring county’s daily newspaper. I was 28.

I worked 50 or more hours a week for five months in an effort to wrap up a basketball season and cover baseball, softball, tennis and track as well as I could.

Unfortunately — but for the better — the sports editor whom I replaced returned in early July and my time in the sports writing world was over.

Back into the resume-writing, application-filing, interview-attending world of unemployment; I filed an application with a company looking for page designers on the east coast.

After nailing a phone interview, I was offered a pagination position with a large media company, headquartered in Ohio, and with a satellite hub in Lumberton.

The next few weeks were hectic, I inventoried all of my belongings and began to sell them, or give them away. Most of my furniture and personal items, too large to haul, were sold at auction.

I asked my grandmother for help with moving expenses. She, my mother and father all helped and gave me what they could to start the journey south.

This was all difficult, but the biggest challenge was saying goodbye to them, my family and my friends.

Giving away my pet cat, picking up everything I owned and packing it into the back of a 1997 Ford Thunderbird and driving 12 hours straight to Robeson County was scary.

In this business, some people are tasked with designing the pages you hold in your hands every morning. Drawing text and picture boxes; flowing articles, paragraphs, sentences and words into those boxes and making sure everything fits well and looks good.

I was a page designer and copy editor for two years. It was a great job, in an excellent atmosphere, with some really awesome people I’ll never forget.

Sadly, in the spring of 2016, the company decided to relocate its staff closer to headquarters in Ohio.

Some employees went along with the move. I did not.

I had met my now-fiance the summer prior and was committed to living the rest of my life with her. She works in Fayetteville, so I stayed.

I applied to The Daily Record in May of 2016, while still working as a paginator in Lumberton. Shortly after, I was offered a position as a crime and government reporter, with desk and web editing duties.

I began work here on June 1, 2016. I started working more in sports at the beginning of 2018.

In honesty, I’ve met some of the most respectful, endearing and encouraging young athletes over this past six months.

It reminds me of how those three aforementioned friends and I acted when we were high schoolers, and really gives me hope for our future.

Most kids I’ve met have respect for their elders, the game and each other. They are kind and caring to their teammates and opponents, and each of them has inspired me to have class and exude professionalism when I am in their presence.

My journey hasn’t always been along the path of least resistance; there have been rough and trying patches. And assuredly, these young athletes will face similar or more difficult challenges in their journeys to adulthood.

Therefore, I’ve administered a personal challenge to myself: Illuminate their innocent moments in recreation while highlighting the positive traits they portray while playing the games they love.

Shaun Savarese is a reporter with The Daily Record. Reach him at 910-230-2040 or ssavarese@mydailyrecord.com.

SHAUN OF THE READ

SHAUN SAVARESE

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