Will you tell us a little bit about your background — about where you’re from and where you went to school?
Diana Nearhos: I’m originally from a small town outside of Boston called Medfield. I went to Boston College, and growing up I went to a lot of athletic events at Boston College, mainly in football, basketball and hockey. Starting when I was about five years old I was bringing little memo pads to the games to take notes. Occasionally I would actually get in who scored, but mostly it was stuff like ‘Go BC!’ or about my favorite players (laughing) … I guess I just knew I had to take notes.
That is amazing, and really cool. So the seeds were sown pretty early for this career, it seems like?
DN: Well, at that point, I think people looked at it like ‘Oh, she’s just being a cute kid,’ but the big group we went to football games with were all families with people my parents went to college with, and we became kind of this big unit that went to games together. There were a lot of boys in my age group, and they kind of all lumped us all in together, and that’s how I started to learn about football — the parents were teaching us as we went to the games and some of it came from my dad and some of it came from the other dads teaching all of us at once. I think, now, they all kind of take pride in what I’m doing because of that.
What did you get your degree in?
DN: My degree is in history because Boston College doesn’t have a journalism program, but I did what I called an unofficial journalism concentration. Any creative non-fiction or actual news writing classes I could take, I took, and did that while also working for the student newspaper. The benefit being that you’re covering the ACC and at games you’re sitting next to reporters from The Boston Herald and The Boston Globe and you can learn from them. I feel like I missed out on internships and stuff like that because nobody at Boston College had that information to be like ‘Hey, look into getting a student membership for (Association of Women in Sports Media)’ or could tell me what papers offered internships.
When did you graduate from BC and what did you do after graduation?
DN: I graduated in 2011 and immediately went and interned at the Arizona Republic for the summer on a Pulliam Fellowship. I did some of everything — Diamonbacks games, Cardinals training camp, Coyotes development camp, community stuff. A lot of things I didn’t do at Boston College, a lot of different kinds of reporting. When I came back home to Boston, I freelanced for a couple of local papers for about a year before I got my current job as a minor-league hockey reporter at the Post-Star in Glen Falls. Currently, I’m covering the ECHL but in five years it’s been three different teams in two different leagues. Started with the (Philadelphia) Flyers AHL team for two years, then the (Calgary) Flames AHL team for a year and now it’s been the Flames ECHL team for two years.
What about your involvement with the APSE Diversity Fellowship? How did that come about and what’s the experience been like?
DN: I got into it because at the AWSM convention last year I chatted with Tommy Deas, who was friendly with my sports editor, and Tommy said I should apply for the Fellowship. We were sitting right there and they pulled about all the info and emailed it to me. I talked to my sports editor about it, and felt bad because we’re not a very big staff so it wouldn’t be easy missing someone at three or four different times during the year, but he didn’t have a problem with filling in for me. I’m the only person that regularly covers the team full-time and I think I’d only missed one game in the last three or four years, so when I told the coach I was going to be gone for a bit and someone was filling in for me it was no big deal. He actually thought it was pretty cool that I was going to cover a Predators game during the Diversity Weekend.
I’ve gotten a lot out of it so far. One of the biggest things has been networking and talking to different people. For me, to learn what I can do to move on and move up in my career is important, but the offshoot of that has been learning different things my paper can do to adapt and do things better. Reading stories at judging or taking into account seminars, too, for lack of a better word, there are these ‘Oh, OK’ moments where I see things that I think will work for our paper or for my beat, and I pick up on them.