The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday December 3rd

Farewell column: From dreading writing to becoming a journalist

Jeremiah Holloway is an assistant sports editor of The Daily Tar Heel.
Buy Photos Jeremiah Holloway is an assistant sports editor of The Daily Tar Heel.

Truth be told, I used to hate writing.

My love for sports spans more than a decade, but there wasn’t much I despised more than writing an essay. I enjoyed the debate shows that I would watch on ESPN. I often had long discussions during school lunch, after church or even with my siblings about practically anything in the NBA world.

But despite that, it never occurred to me that I wanted to take up sportswriting. Sure, I thought about what I would say on an "Around the Horn" or a "First Take" segment, but I didn’t think I’d be pursuing journalism in a serious way.

In reality, I just failed to see what was right in front of me.

My dad has done public relations for N.C. A&T athletics since 2005, taking me and my brothers to many games over the years. 

We’d take box scores that he printed during timeouts and run them upstairs to the radio announcers during basketball games. We’d shag balls during volleyball games. I even sat in the press box at a spring game with binoculars to tell him which players were making tackles.

So it hit me one day this year, as funny and simple as this: I’ve been learning how to cover games since I was in elementary school.

But even with what I saw at A&T, I only scratched the surface with everything this profession truly entails.

While applying to colleges, I had more interest in graphic design than writing. But I found that using my words to express ideas came much more naturally to me. I wrote many — it felt like too many — essays in high school as an IB student, so I gained some strong writing fundamentals over time.

So once I got into UNC, my focus began to shift.

I first became a “writer” as a first-year student with Black Ink, a subgroup and publication for the Black Student Movement. I got to express my creativity through writing a few think pieces, and it also gave me experience pitching story ideas.

After a while, I wanted to write more often and start covering games, leading me to apply to The Daily Tar Heel and join during the spring of my sophomore year.

That experience of covering games didn’t greet me for long, though. COVID-19 swept through the sports world and the rest of the globe, so I resorted to a skill I developed at Black Ink: pitching my own stories.

After spending the rest of the spring and the entirety of the summer doing just that, events slowly returned in the fall and I managed to do a few in-person and some remotely.

By the start of spring 2021, the News & Observer took a chance on me for a summer internship. I was immediately put to work when Mike Krzyzewski (for a while there, I had that spelling memorized) announced that the coming season would be his last.

The rest of that summer, I took in what I could from that sports staff, seeing how they approached their craft and the confidence that they worked with. I’d gotten so used to being a journalist in a pandemic world that I didn’t realize how much I missed out on.

But this past year at the DTH, I got to cover some high-profile basketball games as an assistant sports editor.

And there were quite a few of them.

I was courtside for Krzyzewski’s last ever home game as well as UNC’s first four NCAA Tournament games. And crazy enough, the team I was covering won all five of those games.

I won’t lie by saying that I knew I’d be blessed enough to witness college basketball history up close as a 21-year-old. Yeah, you think about it, but to be that close to March Madness, something that I grew up watching on TV? Couldn’t have called it in my wildest dreams. 

But that doesn’t come without the guidance and support I’ve received along this journey.

Black Ink taught me how to be a writer, the DTH trained me how to be a reporter and the N&O showed me how to be a professional.

I want to shout out Carla Beacham for bringing me on to Black Ink, and Kerstan Nealy for leading it with me for a year and a half.

I want to thank my former sports editors — Ryan Wilcox, Brian Keyes, Jared McMasters and Zach Crain — for helping me learn this reporting grind when I was first getting started at the DTH.

Thanks to PJ Morales and Hunter Nelson for welcoming me into the sports editing team. You two were the best examples of iron sharpening iron all year — not going to share any more office banter though, sadly.

Shoutout to Praveena Somasundaram for holding it down as the editor-in-chief. Being a part of that “Devils, Damned” paper and other special editions is something I’ll always appreciate.

Thanks to Dana Anthony and Courtney Mitchell for helping me lead the Sharif Durhams Leadership Cohort, allowing me to meeting many great professionals in the field.

I want to thank Jessica Banov and Jess Giglio for bringing me on for my N&O internship. I want to thank Justin Pelletier, C.L. Brown, Jonas Pope IV, Steve Wiseman, Luke DeCock, Andrew Carter and Chip Alexander for setting the example and giving me some pointers along the way. And I gotta thank Sharif Durhams and Robyn Tomlin for helping me understand the value of adding something positive to a newsroom.

I also want to thank Tim Crothers, Erin Siegal McIntyre, Trevy McDonald, Kate Sheppard and Angelia Herrin as teachers for both helping me get better and pushing me to take my work to the next level.

And, of course, I want to thank my family and friends for always supporting my writing and God for blessing me to get these opportunities.

I have a lot of thoughts and reflections from this four-year adventure in journalism, but I look forward to the chance to learn even more.


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