Chris Gates’ hot and cold curse

Chris Gates

Some journalists have the “touch of gold,” meaning that every team they cover ends up winning a championship.

Unfortunately, I’m not that guy.

I have more of the “Katy Perry touch.” You know, a little “Hot N Cold” all season. Let me explain.

I started the year covering Kent State men’s basketball. The Flashes started cold, dropping to 8-11 in the opening 19 games of the season. Then they went on an eight-game winning streak.

Finally, they ended the regular season by losing two of their last four, dropped their second-round game in the Mid-American Conference Tournament and ended the season with a first-round exit from the Tournament.

Then I moved on to softball and had similar effects on the team. The Flashes started the season under .500, with an 8-14 record before conference play began. When the MAC schedule got under way, they turned up their play and vaulted in to first in the conference with a 14-3 MAC record.

As the season ended, they dropped five of their last six games and went into the MAC Tournament as a No. 2 seed.

If I were you, I’d pray I don’t end up covering your team once I graduate from here. And since this is my final semester at Kent State, you might want to make some preventative phone calls.

I learned more this semester about being a sports journalist than in any of my four years as a Flash. Covering Kent State men’s basketball is a full-time job and consumed my life from mid-January through the end of March.

From road trips to Buffalo, Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Miami and Cleveland, I learned that there are McDonald’s located no more than five miles apart on any highway. Also, there are more bail bond offices in Muncie, Ind., than anywhere else on the planet.

If you stop at pizza places late at night, right before they close, you’ve got a good chance of getting a free meal. Also, listening to BBC Radio is a great way to kill time on the long trips.

I learned to never write a story too early because the teams will purposely jinx you and go into triple overtime. You’ll rewrite the story over and over, only to end up with a story based on clutch free throws and inbounds passes.

I learned how to hold back my opinion on the Kent State-Akron rivalry, no matter how trashy I think Akron is. I also learned that Nate Linhart does quite a good impression of Nick Dials.

I learned Geno Ford is the coolest and most personable coach in the country – oh yeah, and that he knows what he’s doing as a coach. He did the most he could with his talent and led the Flashes to a postseason berth – something that looked impossible in mid-January.

And finally, I learned why I wanted to cover sports in the first place. I’m excited to experience what it’s like to cover a team and not have to worry about a 15-credit-hour schedule, research papers, midterms and final exams.

This semester was the biggest learning experience of my life, and I hope you, as our audience, enjoyed at least some of what we put out there for you.

Contact principal sports reporter Chris Gates at [email protected].