By Joe Arruda
We did it… Finally.
For two years, ever since covering the 2020 event, I’d waited for the return of the Hoophall Classic. It was the greatest journalistic experience I’d ever had – and I was just a sophomore. Now, this year, I had the chance to lead our coverage of the event with the help of some pretty amazing people.
The Hoophall Classic is a five-day event in Blake Arena, chock-full with 30 games featuring 11 of the top 15 high school basketball teams in the country right now, according to ESPN. It is five straight days of early mornings and very late nights, work from start to finish.
Remembering what our all-star team produced during the 2020 event, our first time covering the event as a staff, I knew we had set the bar incredibly high – and, to be honest, I didn’t know if we’d ever be able to get close.
But our 2022 team stepped up. We were at every single one of those 30 games. We produced over 30 human-interest features about individual athletes, coaches and more. We shot thousands of wonderful photos, and even upped our video content.
I can’t thank the team enough. Irene Rotondo was the mastermind behind our social media all week with the help of Carley Crain, Cait Kemp, Garrett Cote, Chris Gionta and Collin Atwood. Nico Fiscella and Dan Curren joined The Student with their multimedia talents and really added an important layer to our coverage.
Greg Procino, Director of Events at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and Kathy Smith, Director of Special Events at Springfield College, played a major role in giving us this opportunity and I am extremely grateful for all of their help. Our advisor, Aimee Crawford, and legend, Marty Dobrow, were also an incredible help throughout the entire process, whether it be planning, helping to edit stories, throwing ideas out there or just some positive reinforcement.
At the peak of my stress levels throughout the weekend, when we were minutes away from sending our 24-page special edition to the printer, I messed up. Hand up, it was my fault.
I completely blanked on some pretty important information that was left in our office. We wouldn’t have been able to print our paper if it weren’t for Irene breaking out her track speed from high school. She was wearing professional clothing, and probably some type of shoes that weren’t built for snow. Still, without a blink of an eye, she took off. Through the snow and the blistering cold winds, Irene sprinted down Alden Street to our office. Instead of simply taking a picture of what we needed, she picked up the piece of paper it was written on and bolted back.
Before I knew it (literally minutes later), there was a piece of loose-leaf gracefully floating down onto the keyboard of my laptop.
It was that kind of effort that made this event a success. Everyone stepped up, put to use the skills that we’ve all learned in our Communications/Sports Journalism classes and was willing to give it their all.
The event was a culmination of hours of planning, immense stress and countless phone calls to members of that 2020 group.
Whether it was sitting on the court directly in front of Celtics star Jayson Tatum and being probably the last person in Blake Arena to notice, interviewing high school superstars like Mikey Williams, Hansel Emmanuel and DJ Wagner, or simply watching our team work – and boy did they work – I was fulfilled.
Finally, after two years without a Hoophall Classic, we did it. And we did it bigger than we ever expected.