By Christopher Boan
Cameron Goeldner had a wild idea on a whim a few weeks ago that was equal parts youthful naivety and originality.
Goeldner, in his first year as a photographer at the Daily Lobo, the student newspaper at The University of New Mexico, wanted to attend the Mountain West’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
He also knew the hard fiscal truth that would likely quash his dreams if he were to ask a school administrator for the money.
His idea, which he pitched to sports editor Robert Maler in late February, was to start a round of crowdsourcing to cover the costs of the trip to Las Vegas, where both tournaments are being held.
Maler OK’d the proposal, allowing Goeldner to get the ball rolling on their far-fetched voyage.
The photographer decided to set the goal at a modest $1,500, a figure he never expected to reach.
He remembers hitting $1,000, then $1,250, then $1,300 in rapid succession a day or so after the fundraiser went live.
He remained cautious about their prospects, until they eclipsed their goal, leading the trio to raise the amount an extra $500 to cover any additional costs.
“it just so happens that we got an incredible response from it and were able to raise enough money to make this happen,” Goeldner said.
All three were amazed at the wide-reaching support they received.
Donations came from people far and wide, including a BYU fan named “Jimmer Fredette” (not the actual one), who donated a symbolic $52 — in honor of the point total the former BYU guard scored on the Lobos in the 2011 Mountain West tournament.
Narvaiz is thrilled by the trio’s rags-to-riches story, thanking those who believed in their mission.
“I’m going to be honest, I really didn’t expect this to happen,” Narvaiz said. “I didn’t think that people would donate like they did. And so, to do that, we’re grateful for it, and just being here and covering it has been fun.”
For Maler, the fun that’s attached to the unrelenting action of covering the four-day tournament is matched by the responsibility of providing quality journalism.
“The biggest thing that we have is we feel a tremendous amount of responsibility to create tremendous content to the people that were really, really generous with their time and their money,” Maler said. “So, we deserve to get the opportunity to be here, but they deserve to get great content from us.”
Learning the ropes
Perhaps the most important part of the group’s weekend in Sin City is the experience they’ll gain from their time there.
“I think student journalism is important,” Maler said. “And I think it means the world, because we’re learning how to do this, and this is the best way to learn how to be professional journalist.”
Maler hopes the Daily Lobo’s content will make those who donated money, or steered potential donors to their site, proud.
“I think that you can learn so much by watching other people drive the car or other people drive the car,” Maler said. “You’re not going to learn how to drive unless you get behind the wheel and you actually do it yourself.
“So, we’re getting behind the wheel and we’re going to do it ourselves.”