Why did you choose to study Journalism?
It was my first year of high school. The head boys’ soccer coach asked me to broadcast the soccer matches later that day. I was a freshman, so I had no idea what I wanted to do. So, I hesitated at first, but, on March 18, 2012, my life changed forever. I walked up to the press box to broadcast the matches and instantly fell in love with it. It’s cliché to say, but I call it “love at first sight.” That day, I made my mind up that this is where I want to be. I want to cover sports teams, be close to the players and action, so I can be the one to share their stories in whatever medium, whether it be print, audio, voice or whatever. I want to be that guy.
What is the hardest part of being a Grady student?
Does such a thing exist? Being a Grady student has been amazing. The standard is set high all the way from Dean Davis to the professors. Grady expects nothing but greatness. Now, that’s the same for all of UGA, I assume, but there’s something that sets Grady apart in my mind: every professor, faculty and staff member cares about and are willing to help us anyway they can. I mean, Dean Davis sets a day aside every semester to cook us hot dogs and get to know us all on an individual basis. Never have I felt alone in Grady. If a project or story is taking a toll on me, I’ve had Grady professors assist me with advice, helpful suggestions or even a blunt “figure it out.” It’s like a big family that I consider myself blessed to be a part of.
What made you want to start your own podcast? What kind of support did you receive from the Grady community following the decision?
I took Multiplatform Sports Storytelling with Dr. Suggs in Fall 2018. We were tasked with covering beats as part of the class and working as a team to produce a podcast. We had the opportunity to, in a casual setting, discuss sports with our friends and have fun doing so. So, that sparked the idea, but I didn’t want to do it alone by no means. I texted my awesome colleague and even better friend, Hayden Chambless, about the idea, and she immediately said yes. Now, as much as I’d like to take credit behind the name “Behind the Bark,” I can’t. That was all her. We’ve received tremendous support from the Grady community since we’ve started. We’ve had our friends and fellow students Myan Patel and Jean Louise Webb on as guests, multiple friends have submitted questions and Dr. Suggs even assisted with one of our profile episodes. So, I have received a lot of support, and I’m extremely grateful for all of it.
Why do you think getting involved in activities outside of classes is important?
It allows me to take what I’ve been taught and put it into practice in the real world. It allows me to evolve my knowledge and experience different things that this industry will throw at me. It’s great to learn in a lecture or classroom, but we get to learn things up close and personal. Nothing in a class could’ve prepared me for working with a team like serving on the executive board of IABC this past year did. The organization was in a rebuilding phase and, with that, comes growing pains. I can’t speak for every officer, but I know I learned a lot in the year I served as its president. For example, what do you do when your guest speaker cancels three days before your club meeting? Nothing in a textbook could’ve prepared me on how to operate in that real-life situation. So, getting outside of the classroom and just having multiple experiences has really benefited me in my time at Grady and in college.
What would you tell the younger version of yourself if you could go back to the beginning of your first year in college?
Chill out. Take a breath. It’s all going to work out. The high school “me” and the college “me” are two totally different people. Coming into college, I was so uptight and wanted everything I did to be absolutely perfect. I would spend most nights just thinking “I could be doing more, and I could’ve done better.” Now, I’m mainly laid back and just go with the flow. A lot of people mistake that about me as saying “I don’t care,” but I do care. I care about everything I do, and that I’m involved with. However, my attitude nowadays is “I did the best I could. Let’s move on,” or “Plan A failed. What’s plan B?” I’m more confident in myself, and I wish I had this confidence four years ago.
What does Grady mean to you?
Grady is like a family to me. Everybody supports each other in this college no matter what your major is, the faculty, the staff, the colleagues you get to learn alongside. It’s really like a big family, and everybody is included. Everybody seems like they play an important role here.
Do you have a favorite quote?
My favorite quote is “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened,” because there are so many lessons you can learn whether it’s a task, a project or whatever the case may be. Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because you learned something from it and you grew as a person.
What has been your proudest moment in the past year?
My proudest moment would have to be during my summer internship, this past summer actually, when I got to interview Vince Dooley for the Dooley Field dedication ceremony that took place before the first game. The fact that I got to interview him at all was kind of like a dream come true because he’s legendary around these parts.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I am a morning person, definitely. I don’t like staying up late. I sound like a grandpa, but I normally get to bed no later than 10 o’clock at night.
What is, in your opinion, the best restaurant in Athens?
Clocked, I guess, would be the best one. It’s probably one of two that I’ve eaten here locally other than fast food restaurants. The burgers are good, and they have really good sweet tea, which is very important to me.
What’s your ideal travel destination?
Piegon Forge, Tennessee. I’ve only been there, Texas and Florida, and that has to be the dream spot for me. I plan to retire there one day.
Editor’s Note: Some of the above answers have been edited for length and/or clarity.
For other installments in the #GradyGrit series, visit the #GradyGrit page.