How one Emerald staffer and his editors covered the 2012 NCAA Volleyball Tournament

This post was written by Emerald Sports Editor Matt Walks and volleyball beat writer Eddie Paskal.

Just before Winter Break began, Oregon volleyball began its unprecedented run through the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Because the Ducks had been upset in the first round of last year’s tourney, the Emerald’s sports desk didn’t initially give significant thought to a potential Final Four berth. Instead, beat writer Eddie Paskal covered the games from releases and box scores as Oregon clinched a berth in the Elite Eight.

Biggest challenge? Keeping quality up

Eddie: The main challenge that I came across was simply operating as a one-man band in Louisville in a way that benefited both the Emerald and myself. I did not simply want to produce content for the sake of producing content; I wanted to write stories that I could be proud of and would reflect well on the Emerald also.

Given the short amount of time I was in Louisville and the amount of work I needed to accomplish, the days were very hectic. Not only was I responsible for writing up game recaps; I produced multimedia clips and initially was scheduled to do some photography as well.

The stories come quick — so work from the moment you get up

From the time I awoke, I was responsible for covering press conferences and any other pertinent events that related to the team. Since there was no guarantee that the team would advance past their Final Four matchup with Penn State, when they did advance, all the upcoming events and stories we wanted to write came at us rather quickly. I was lucky in the fact that my hotel was only three blocks away from the KFC Yum! Center so getting to press conferences, games etc. was only a 10 minute walk.

Have a team of editors back home to rely on

At times I felt somewhat overwhelmed with the sheer volume of content I had made the commitment to produce and my schedule at which to produce it but both Matt and Photo Editor Alex McDougall were incredibly helpful and supportive and there is no way I would have been successful without them.

“Dedicate every fiber of my being to my coverage”

The most valuable thing I was able to take away from my experience in Louisville was being able to completely dive into the world of journalism and live sports coverage for over four days. While in school, I have other responsibilities such as homework and going to class but when I was in Louisville I was able to dedicate every fiber of my being to my coverage.

Stay in constant communication and keep getting better

Covering Oregon in the volleyball Final Four was the most challenging and also most rewarding experience I have had in my journalistic career. The fact that I was able to successfully create content I was proud of in several mediums under a multitude of deadlines is something that I now take great pride in. I am very thankful not only for the opportunity to have been able to go and cover this event but also the support I received from my peers. Matt, Alex and Isaac as well, continuously supported me and we were in constant communication about how to not only cover the games but how to improve our coverage from day to day.

We developed a travel and editorial plan in advance

Matt: We didn’t seriously talk about sending Eddie or anyone else to Louisville until before Oregon’s showdown with Nebraska in the Elite Eight. I discussed with Andy Rossback — our editor in chief — the basic logistics of sending someone, and he and Ryan Frank — our president — agreed to review a travel/editorial proposal from Eddie if Oregon won. Following the Ducks’ win over the Huskers, we had a narrow window of time to flesh out a proposal, submit it, have it reviewed and purchase airfare/lodging.

An editorial plan should be well developed with a story-by-story budget

Fortunately we had just had our Fiesta Bowl proposal approved, so we had a little experience and a jumping off point. Giving Eddie a clear schedule of when to post Evergreen stories, practice reports, game previews and recaps was crucial — he wouldn’t have enough time in Louisville otherwise.

Editors back home managed social, edited stories

Eddie made my job incredibly easy from there. I aggregated social media reactions (with the help of digital sports editor Isaac Rosenthal and managing editor McKenna Brown), helped steer Twitter and Facebook traffic to our page of coverage, and cleaned up Eddie’s posts when they came in. All from the comfort of my own couch in Montana.

Of course, there were unexpected road bumps 

As long as the chain of command stayed in contact, we navigated the little bumps in the road — and there were plenty — pretty nimbly:

→ Time zones | Kentucky is in the Central Time Zone. Except Louisville. That’s in the Eastern Time Zone. That tripped me up, especially.

→ Photography | We planned on Eddie also shooting photos for us, but the press row and the photographers’ area were too far apart. We eventually hired a freelance photographer to supplement photos.

→ Practice/Press conference schedule  | We had no idea what it was coming in. It forced us to stay flexible and stay in contact with the Oregon volleyball SID Geoff Thurner.

Eddie’s complete editorial and travel plan

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Images by Freelancer David Hartlage.