The end of the school year usually coincides with celebrations for the senior class. Soon-to-be college freshmen spend their final days of prep education reminiscing about their time spent with friends and various accomplishments achieved over a four-year span. They talk about their plans for college and usually sport some kind of apparel for their institution of choice. But for Potomac School senior Jamie Lovegrove, there was one final decision to make.
Lovegrove started writing for DCSportsFan.com as a freshman at Potomac School and spent the next three years as one of the site’s top high school contributors. During a time when some contributors -- both on the high school and college level --are learning to write, Lovegrove was excelling.
His hard work did not go unnoticed.
This past spring Lovegrove was offered the Fred Russell-Grantland Rice Sports Writing scholarship at Vanderbilt University. Worth $80,000 over four years, the scholarship is the only sports writing scholarship in the country.
But what’s even more impressive is that Lovegrove passed on the scholarship. Much like his time at both Potomac School and DCSportsFan, Lovegrove was able to see the bigger picture, which led him to Evanston, Illinois.
“Next year I will be attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University,” Lovegrove said. “I was offered the scholarship primarily for my work with DCSportsFan and my school newspaper. The decision was very hard to make, but I realized that I loved the Northwestern culture and the outstanding opportunities at Medill too much to turn it down. It didn't hurt that my sports writing hero, Michael Wilbon, is a Medill grad and he is one among many to have led it to its reputation as the best journalism school in the country.”
To understand Lovegrove’s decision, you must understand the man that he has become and the steps he took to get to where he is today. Lovegrove’s interest in writing came with his passion for sports, and he started to make his newfound passion a reality during his freshman year.
“Loving sports came naturally to me; writing took a lot more work,” Lovegrove said.
“I’ve been a Chelsea soccer fan since birth and a Caps fan for many years. Sports are in my blood – even if it never translated to much on-the-field success. I loved reading long before I realized I could write myself. As I went forward with my journalism, I became more accustomed to the craft of writing, and recently I have started to use it for more creative outputs, too.”
Even with his love for sports and writing, Lovegrove needed confidence to get his plan going in the right direction. And after sitting back and being a spectator, he decided to become part of the game, even when he wasn’t playing.
“I followed DCSportsFan for a long time before I decided to apply to become a writer,” Lovegrove said. “Even before I got to high school, I knew I was going to love high school sports. I went to some of the high school basketball games when I was younger and I remember sitting in awe of the student sections and the remarkable passion of the crowds and players. When I learned that DCSportsFan offered internships to capable high school-age writers, I almost instinctively decided that it was right for me to apply. I did not have any extensive background in journalism, but I had the basic skills and I certainly had the motivation and interest, so that was all that mattered at first. I first applied at the beginning of the spring season in my freshman year of high school.”
The rest is history. Lovegrove started covering high school lacrosse during the spring of his freshman year, and one of his first postgame interviews was with longtime St. Albans coach Malcolm Lester.
“I was absolutely terrified to approach coaches and players at first,” Lovegrove said. “I didn’t know what to ask and I thought they would not take me seriously as a journalist. I realized quickly that they were all just happy to have someone there, covering their games, and that they were very willing to talk to me.”
Lovegrove also said that because the D.C. area has such great talent at the high school level, the coaches really know what they’re talking about and excel at what they do.
“They treat their sport very professionally, as do many of the best players,” Lovegrove added. “There are no John Tortorella’s out there just waiting to torture the media, certainly not at the high school level. Also, just having a reason to go and have a front row seat to some of the best high school sporting events around immediately hooked me.
Everyone at DCSportsFan, especially Todd Bradley and Josh Johnson, was very welcoming and nurturing, and it didn’t take long at all for me to catch on to the program and what was going on. It's just a few years later and now I feel like my interviewing skills are my biggest strength as a journalist.”
As Lovegrove continued to write, many of his friends took notice and he even began to develop some personal relationships with some of the coaches.
“I don’t think anyone was as excited about it all as I was, but everyone was very supportive. I have a lot of friends that go to MAC and IAC schools, so a lot of them were just happy that there was a new voice on the site with broad insider knowledge of the sports in those two conferences. As I started to write more, everyone paid a little more attention to what I had to say.”
Lovegrove performed at such a high level that he was given the opportunity to cover some games on the professional level. His access to the press box allowed him to network with some of the area’s leading journalists.
“When I covered some Washington Capitals and D.C. United games from the press box and spoke to some of the professional journalists, they were always impressed that I had achieved so much at such a young age. People really started to recognize my work. As I started covering some bigger high school games and individual articles were having thousands of views, I could see more of the full potential of my work.”
Lovegrove first heard abouthe Vanderbilt sports writing scholarship his junior year, and realized there were other benefits to his early experience. He now encourages other aspiring journalists – on all levels – to take the necessary steps to do whatever it takes to reach their goals regardless of age or experience.
“Writing confidence can only come in two ways: reading a lot and writing a lot,” Lovegrove said. “I have realized that if you only do one and not the other, you’ll never really reach your full potential. I’ve been writing for a few years now and I still don’t feel completely ready or confident, I probably never will, you just do what you can to translate what’s in your head onto paper. I still have a long way to go - a lot to read and a lot to write. I often find that I am my own biggest critic and I need other people to read my work to receive a proper assesment of its value. Interest is more important than ability at first. If you care about what you are writing about and you are willing to be taught, the skills will come with time.
Although Lovegrove will always be a part of DCSportsFan in one way or another, he is excited to see what the future brings, regardless of what profession it leads to.
“I will be learning from some of the most experienced professionals in the business of journalism, and of course that can do me nothing but good. But I have a lot of other interests and passions and I certainly want to explore those too. Economics and political science are two of my favorite topics, and it is quite likely that I will look into developing those further.
Music has always been a passion of mine too, and I'm sure I will not leave that behind. If sports writing is a part of my future, then that's great - Sports Illustrated has always been my ultimate dream as writer. But if not, there are many different avenues I might go down with which I would be perfectly happy.”
If you’re interested in becoming the next Jamie Lovegrove, the opportunity is only a click away. Over the past seven years, DCSportsFan has evolved into The Sports Fan Network, which allows anyone to contribute from anywhere in the world. Find out more information here and...