Regis Lessons Continue to Influence Local Sports Broadcaster
When Pat O'Keefe '97 thinks about his profession, he credits his time at Regis High School for laying the groundwork to a career in sports broadcasting.
"As a senior, I took a writing class with Mr. Flynn as an elective that I was able to turn into my own weekly sports writing project, and it really helped me get a jump start on covering and writing about sports," said O'Keefe. "And Mr. Anselme, who was the Athletic Director at the time and my History teacher, was very instrumental. He was a walking sports encyclopedia, and I really enjoyed talking shop with him." Over his four years at Regis, O'Keefe was able to letter in five Varsity sports and "was a part of some great soccer teams under Mr. Jon Vigon '85," recounts O'Keefe.
Today, O'Keefe serves as the Sports Director for News 12 The Bronx and News 12 Brooklyn, and has been with the organization since 2007. This week, he was named as one of the Irish Echo's 40 Under 40, an annual listing that celebrates Irish Americans who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields of work before reaching the age of forty.
"Being recognized as one of the 40 Under 40 is a thrill. A lot of my work with News 12 is in The Bronx and Brooklyn, and I love being able to represent the Irish communities there," said O'Keefe, whose paternal grandparents were both born in Co. Kerry before settling in the Woodlawn section of The Bronx.
(Pictured: O'Keefe interviewing NBA Legend and current St. John's head coach Chris Mullin.)
O'Keefe says that Regis continues to be an influence in his career, sometimes in unanticipated encounters with colleagues in the business.
"At News 12 The Bronx/Brooklyn, I worked with Joe Mauceri '05 for a few years when he was one of our reporters. He has since moved on to PIX 11 and is doing a great job. Marc LaPlace '85 of the YES Network has served as a mentor, and Jon Sciambi '88 of ESPN, and Mike Breen P'09'15 have also been great mentors. Working for MSG Network as the Knicks Radio host, I get the opportunity to see Mike all the time, which is a great thrill for me," added O'Keefe.
O'Keefe says his career highlights of covering hometown sports include reporting on the 2009 Yankees World Series win and local team participation in NCAA Tournaments. He also enjoys reporting on the annual Jesuit rivalry game between Fordham Preparatory and Xavier High School every Thanksgiving. His adds that his most unique broadcasting experience was covering the 2006 Iditarod while stationed in Anchorage, Alaska.
Recently O'Keefe took note of the creativity of the Regis students who streamed the Regis-Xavier tripleheader.
"I was very excited that the students had taken on that project. That is where the business is going—webstreaming. Even the NFL is broadcasting games that are only on the web."
He notes that students interested in broadcasting should "start getting experience now. There are opportunities available that weren't there even 5 years ago."
Vote for Pat O’Keefe in the Irish Echo’s 40 Under 40 People’s Choice Poll
(Poll will close at Noon on Friday, February 26).
"It was definitely hard to cover," said Shannon Clark, then a reporter and now the co-editor of the school's Orange and Black newspaper. She was assigned to cover the first suicide because she didn't know the student as well as some of her classmates did. "It was very hard to write because you had to be very careful about what you would write and how it would come off to his family and his friends," Clark said.
The newspapers editors and faculty adviser Sutton Casey met with the school's psychologist and other administrators to decide how to cover the story. "We determined that ... September was suicide awareness month and so we wrote the story in that vein," Casey said. "It was not going to mention his name, not mention the specific incident but provide students with information about mental health issues and places that they could get assistance."
Clark said the school psychologist warned that identifying the student and writing at length about him could create a "butterfly effect" and trigger other students to consider suicide. "If they see a student being shown in the light and being almost famous ... and now they have all these people like 'look at how great this person was,' students who are mentally ill can take that another way and say if I commit suicide then this can happen to me also and I can become sort of famous." Clark went on to cover mental health issues and a school district social media campaign called #whatadultsshouldknow that asked students to share their thoughts and feelings about the suicides.
Clark and Casey spoke to Colorado Matters about their coverage of the issue at the Colorado Student Media Association's annual J-Day, a conference attended by about 1,300 student journalists at Colorado State University earlier this month. We spoke to other students there about how and why they do journalism in an era when the profession's credibility is under fire:
Vivianna Denittis, senior, staffer at the Arapahoe High School Herald in Littleton.
"I want to be a journalist, or I am a journalist, because I want people to read our articles and see the passion we have for sharing information. My famous article for my school was on when teens know they are able to have sex ... I felt with our developing minds we really need to be able to know when we're ready to make that decision for ourselves."
Connor Lyford, senior and co-editor of Elevate Magazine, Regis Jesuit High School, Aurora
Journalism is "a way to walk in other people's shoes, or even trade shoes. I feel like when I'm interviewing someone I have to trade places with them and feel what they're feeling. It gives me a greater understanding of diversity. It gives me a greater understanding of a world I'm not part of."
Sam Norris, freshman, Eaglecrest High School in Centennial, who hopes to join the school's yearbook staff:
He hopes to cover racism: "I think just because I see so much of it every day, and so much in school. It's something I'm really passionate about and I feel like journalism is a good way for me to help put an end to it in some aspect."