The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday February 1st

Column: Student journalism yields an endearing look at student-athletes


Grace Raynor is the Sports Editor. She is a senior journalism major from Morganton.

Sunday began the final week of the school year in The Daily Tar Heel’s office. Amid the chaos, when our opinion editor approached me and asked me to write the final sports column of the year, I made sure at least a little of the day was set aside for reflection.

Here’s what I thought about:

The story of the Wainstein report was a big one and certainly deserved all of the hours we put into it. The Daily Tar Heel wrote more than 70 stories about it just this school year.

But as the sports editor, when the scandal coverage peaked, I couldn’t help but wish that all of you, and even all of the other editors in the Daily Tar Heel offices, could see the side to the UNC athletes and coaches that we get to see as sports reporters.

I wish you could have seen Brice Johnson and Roy Williams fake fighting and then embracing in the locker room because they were just so happy to be Sweet 16 bound — a far cry from the way the postgame locker room felt at Duke, when Joel James tore his jersey and Marcus Paige sat silent in front of dozens of TV cameras with a thousand-yard stare. I wish you heard how Marquise Williams laughed when he couldn’t remember the name of Duke’s football stadium because it was, well, Duke.

Before I finished this column, I asked one of my assistants to share with me his favorite memories with a UNC coach or player. Brendan Marks cited the time Marquise waved to him and then grabbed his phone to scream gibberish while Brendan was on the phone with his mom. Then there was the time Stephanie Mavunga dapped him up in Lenoir.

Just yesterday, I found out that Steve Kirschner, basketball information director, had been coordinating with my mom since January to surprise me with a signed picture of Roy Williams and my family from when I was 5 years old.

The good news is that it’s not too late for you to get to know these athletes and coaches, too. For those of you who aren’t graduating, there’s still time to join the DTH sports desk. It’s not just journalism students here on Rosemary Street — in fact, one of my most reliable writers is pre-med.

I won’t be here next year to cover UNC sports, and, while a part of me feels a sense of relief to end the late nights in the office as an editor, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. Give it a try — I think you just might feel the same way.


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