By Luke Whitehouse
Have you ever heard the saying “hard work pays off?”
Well, Kris Rhim is the epitome of how hard work and dedication to one’s craft can lead to monumental accomplishments. Since graduating from Springfield College in 2021, Rhim has excelled. He was terrific during his short stint as a beat reporter for the Atlanta Falcons before earning his most recent gig: working for The New York Times as a sports fellow.
“It’s been great,” Rhim said regarding his recent move to The Times. “I’ve been to the track and field world championships, the WNBA Finals, and even Serena [Williams]’s last match.”
This continued success is a direct reflection of his time as an undergrad on Alden Street.
Rhim was a former student athlete who worked hard at everything and went above and beyond to be not only the best on the track or in the classroom, but also in the community.
Growing up in Philadelphia, Pa., Rhim knew he wanted to work within sports. He remembered watching basketball and football as a kid and when it came time to pick a major in college, Rhim knew exactly what his calling was. After choosing communications/sports journalism as his major, Rhim developed a passion much deeper than just writing and talking about sports.
While Rhim was at Springfield, he dove head first into the fight for social justice, and did so much for the campus. He joined the Men of Excellence club, led a march for justice after the murder of George Floyd and stood on the Board of Trustees to make Springfield a better and more inclusive community.
Coming from a very diverse public high school, Rhim knew enrolling at Springfield was going to be something he would have to get acclimated to, as it was his first experience at a private school. If he was going to speak on something as important as social justice, he first had to learn how to communicate to ensure people of all races and genders understood.
“Learning more about social justice and how to communicate it [was important],” Rhim said.
One thing about Rhim: He would always speak up when things needed to be said, and he spoke up for those who didn’t have a voice. And when something needed to be done, he did it. Everything Rhim had done for social justice is still being felt on campus today.
“I wanted to make an impact where I could see [change],” Rhim said. “I wanted to do things that when I left, people still remember.”
Rhim’s passion for social justice coupled with his love of basketball kickstarted a podcast with him and Springfield College professor of communications Martin Dobrow, called “Liberty, Justice and Ball.” The podcast has developed into a home of deep conversations with former legends and members of the Basketball Hall of Fame about social justice within the sports community.
“I thought it’d be a great idea because it was another way journalism [could be shown] through a different medium,” Rhim said.
Another draw of the project was the opportunity to work with Dobrow, who is a highly respected journalist as well.
“I thought it was valuable to work with Marty,” Rhim said. “He’s a super accomplished journalist… I learned a lot from [being] around him.”
While Rhim was paying attention to the social climate, he was also preparing himself for his career ahead, years before graduation. As a junior and senior, he was a freelance writer, and his work appeared in many major websites including ESPN’s ‘The Undefeated’, the Boston Globe and many more. But for this to happen, Rhim explains that he had to go above and beyond and be very persistent.
“I wanted to make sure I was branching out,” Rhim said. “You can be a really good writer, but if no one knows it, you might not get that job.”
During his years at Springfield, Rhim joined The National Association of Black Journalists and the Sports Journalism Institute, while also doing work with the Associated Press. This allowed his work to be seen by many publications, thus affording him opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be available.
Having your writing featured in highly respected publications takes a high level of journalism, and Rhim still continues to use the core principles left by Springfield.
“Whenever I’m writing a story, I think of my foundation, which are the things I learned in the classroom,” Rhim said. “I still use [things such as] ‘seek the truth and report it.’”
Before Rhim accepted the opportunity as a sports fellow with The New York Times, he worked for the Atlanta Falcons as a beat reporter and went to create a documentary on the “The Rudest Team” – the 1991 Falcons. Leaving that job was tough, but ultimately Rhim knew what he had to do.
“[The opportunity] was a great thing,” Rhim said. “[I was able to] to grow as a journalist and reporter and receive great editing.”
Although for now Rhim is on his one year fellowship, he is cognizant of what his future endeavors could entail.
“[An opportunity to work] and use sports as an avenue to tell a bigger story,” Rhim said in regards to what he will be doing after the fellowship ends.
Rhim does have some advice for people that are sitting in the same classes he once did.
“Try to meet as many people as possible. Try to maximize your opportunities at Springfield,” he said.
“Work hard, work smart and have fun.”
Photo Courtesy of Atlanta Falcons