There for the Big Games: Red & Black staff discuss covering the Orange Bowl and National Championship

Editor’s Note: The following article, written by Eva Pound for The Red & Black, features several of its reporters and photojournalists who covered the UGA football team’s playoff and championship games. We are reprinting it here with permission from The Red & Black since many of those featured are Grady College students or recently-graduated alumni including Jessica Gratigny, Drew Hubbard (AB ’21), Jake Jennings (AB ’21), Katherine Lewis and Kathryn Skeean.


The Red & Black is an independent, private, student-run newsroom, and we are grateful for the experiential opportunities it provides for students.


It originally appeared on The Red & Black website January 25, 2022.

Covering a high-profile championship game is a challenge in itself, but for Red & Black reporters heading to the Orange Bowl, complications arose well before they reached Miami. At the last minute, their flight was cancelled thanks to bad weather and the surge in the omicron variant.

“I was literally at Target getting flight-friendly shampoo and conditioner the second I got the text. I knew at that moment that our adventure got a little more interesting,” said Kathryn Skeean, photo editor.

“We all met in Athens to make the trip by car,” said Katherine Lewis, assistant sports editor. A full day of driving later, Skeean, Lewis and sports editor Drew Hubbard arrived in Miami to cover the game.

“That trip with Katherine Lewis and Drew Hubbard is one I will cherish forever, though,” Skeean said. “It’s hard not to bond with people you’re trapped in a car with for 12-plus hour drives.”

Kathryn Skeean and Jessica Gratigny ready to take pictures at the National Championship game.
Red & Black photo editor Kathryn Skeean (foreground) and assistant photo editor Jessica Gratigny at the National Championship in Indianapolis in January 2022. Skeean and Gratigny are journalism students at Grady College. (Photo courtesy Kathryn Skeean)

The buzz around the game can cause an onset of nerves for student reporters, Hubbard said. “The challenge of covering big games like this is making sure you don’t make the moment too big, because that will freak you out and then you won’t be in the right mindset to write your stories. If I allow stress and imposter syndrome to get the best of me, then I won’t be able to produce my best work for these big games.”

Amid the national spotlight on titan football teams going head to head, student reporters must act professionally, skillfully generate stories and photographs and get into “game mode,” said Skeean.

As the clock ticked down in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs led with a score of 34-11 against the Wolverines.

“In my opinion, the most memorable moment was when I realized that Georgia was going to win and that I would be covering a team that had a shot at a national title,” Lewis said.

While photographing action on the field was exciting for Skeean, one of her highlights came during the post-game celebration, when players were tossing out oranges from the namesake trophy, and one player picked up an orange to take a bite.

“Watching Jordan Davis make a normal sized orange look like a Cutie, though, is not a blur,” said Skeean. “I saw him pick it up and I vividly remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, I can’t miss this moment, this is gold.’ It has since become one of my more iconic photos, and I still crack up every time I see it.”

Skeaan’s photo of Jordan Davis snacking on an orange was the image on the front page of the digital Red & Black special edition produced a few days later, while a shot of quarterback Stetson Bennett ran on the print edition A1.


View photos from the National Championship on The Red & Black website. Photos by Kathryn Skeean and Jessica Gratigny.

Onward to Indy

When it came to the national title game between Georgia and Alabama, air travel once again became a problem. Tickets were limited, prices exorbitant and the threat of cancellations high. So the team once again opted for a road trip, with Skeean and Hubbard joined by assistant photo editor Jessica Gratigny and assistant sports editor Jake Jennings.

“Just like the Orange Bowl, the National Championship game was such a blur. The first half was a battle photographically purely because of the lack of offensive action,” Skeean said. “As great as Jack Podlesny and Will Reichard are at kicking the ball through the uprights, that does not exactly make for the greatest photo gallery in the world. As we all know, the second half was a different story.”

After a battle of field goals, the action picked up in the second half of the game. “The most memorable moment from this whole postseason run was probably Kelee Ringo’s interception in the National Championship to seal the win,” Hubbard said. “Alabama still had a shot to win the game, it wasn’t a great shot but it was still possible. Georgia fans know that it’s not over until it’s over, and for sports writers, that’s true as well.”

“Every time before kickoff, once everything is worked out and you’re there just to focus on writing, there is this cool moment where you can just sit there and realize where you are and take it all in, whether it is the SEC Championship, Orange Bowl or the National Championship.” 
— Drew Hubbard, Red & Black sports editor

For Jennings, a highlight was the post-game player interviews. “They were so pumped up and gave really good quotes.”

As the Red & Black team made the long drive back to Athens the day after the game, a small team was at work in the newsroom on Baxter Street putting together the special edition on the national title win. The reporters made a stop on the way to get a strong enough Wi-Fi connection to upload photos and download PDFs of page proofs to review. “Working on the paper out of a Starbucks on the way home was pretty crazy, but was a cool experience,” Jennings said.

Start the presses

“I went to the printers with Charlotte. We watched the papers come off the machine and I saw the photo I had taken on the front. It was surreal,” Skeean said. “We both got emotional. I thought the emotions would end there, but boy, was I wrong. Seeing people lined up all the way down Baxter Street to pick up the paper the next day was the craziest feeling ever, and I could not be more grateful.”

Hubbard said a lot of work goes into preparing to cover a big football game, and it can be tiring. But, he added: ”Every time before kickoff, once everything is worked out and you’re there just to focus on writing, there is this cool moment where you can just sit there and realize where you are and take it all in, whether it was the SEC Championship, Orange Bowl or the National Championship.”

One for the history books

The work of the sports and photo team is not ending with the special edition. They are working with the Red & Black special publications team on a 100-page book to be released in February. “Delivered,” will capture the championship run, title game and recap the season, showcasing a semester of reporting and photography.

“The Red & Black has given me so much and I’ll always be grateful for my time at this paper. Not just the postseason run, but every sport I’ve gotten to cover,” Hubbard says. “Covering equestrian, softball, soccer and baseball were some of the best times, too. Now, looking back at my whole time at the paper, being able to cover one of the most historic wins in Georgia sports history is something I’ll always cherish and The Red & Black gave me that experience. I learned so much about journalism, life and leadership, and I will always be thankful for my time here.”

Grady InternViews: Drew Hubbard

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.A graphic saying Hubbard is a journalism major working as a Digital and Social Media Intern for Nashville Soccer Club out of Nashville, TN

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.

I am a digital and social media intern at Nashville Soccer Club this summer. In the internship, I help assist the digital marketing team to help brainstorm social media ideas and execute them on different platforms. I mainly focus on the club’s Facebook account and working on TikTok ideas but also engage with fans on Instagram when they tag the team in Instagram posts or stories. 

The internship is in-person based out of the club’s office in Nashville, but I work remotely as well. Some of the club’s interns will report to the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays while myself and other interns report Mondays and Wednesdays while the entire office is remote on Fridays. For all home games, the interns are at the club’s current stadium, Nissan Stadium, while we work from home when the team plays away. 

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

The biggest challenge has been trying to find a unique voice for the team on social media. Because there are so many sports teams in the country, it is important that our club is different and creative to bring fans into our social channels and get engagement across all different platforms. The challenge is finding inspiration from other teams in different leagues, but also having our own voice and content that sets us apart.

Hubbard typing on his laptop from a box overlooking the soccer stadium
Drew focuses on the soccer team’s digital and social media. (Photo: submitted)
What is the most memorable experience you have had during your internship?

The most memorable experience I have had was working at the Mexico-Panama international friendly at Nissan Stadium. Both teams played in Nashville to prepare for their competitive tournaments later in the summer. I was lucky enough to experience an international match and how different it is than a regular Major League Soccer match. There were a lot of Mexican and Panamanian media members I got to work with and learn from while also experiencing an incredible atmosphere for the match. 

What is your advice for other students looking to take on a similar role?

I would say network as much as possible and always be looking to learn new skills or improve the skills you already have. Social media is an evolving field with new things happening all the time. So, being able to learn new platforms and learning how to handle the digital side of things like a website is really important and will set you apart from a lot of other candidates. 

What lessons will you take back with you to Athens in the fall?
Hubbard holding a soccer ball and wearing a Soccer Club scarf in the stadium
Drew has the opportunity to work in person this summer in Nashville. (Photo: submitted)

Going back to Athens, I’ll know better how to work with other people on projects and combine my ideas with their ideas to do our best possible work together. Grady classes are a lot of collaborative work, and I’ll be able to work and communicate with others better because of this experience.