Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Alum back at SJI
By Juan López
There’s a simple word for “10 years,” right?
Well, make sure you don’t say it to Gary Estwick.
“Gosh, a decade. I can’t believe you just said that.”
That’s what Estwick told me after I asked him how it felt to be back at the Sports Journalism Institute a decade after he graduated from the program.
Estwick (SJI Class of 1999) came back this year to help teach the Class of 2009.
Estwick, a beat writer for the Tennessee Titans at The Tennessean, said he’s wanted to come back to the SJI program for some time now, but has been unable to because of his job.
In his time here at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., Estwick has worked closely with the nine-student class and has served as a first line of editing students’ stories. Estwick is the only instructor at SJI who has not been an editor at some point in his career and has used it to his advantage.
“I think it helps that I’m a beat writer because hopefully I can give you guys a different perspective,” he said.
Estwick has provided another angle for us to learn from and took a line from one of our other instructors, Leon Carter, in explaining what it would be like in the real world.
“When I was at lunch today, I had my laptop in front of me and was working and eating and I was telling Larry Young (SJI member) that’s how lunch is for a sportswriter,” Estwick said. “We don’t just sit around and hee-hee and kee-kee for one hour and just eat.”
And that’s exactly how it is here at Poynter.
We’ve barely been given time to blink. If there’s not a class session, there’s a blog to work on. If we’re not fine-tuning stories, we’re listening closely to one of our guest speakers. But Gary has been there every step of the way, offering his expertise and being the butt of a few jokes along the way.
Often, the baby-faced Estwick has been mistaken for a student by one of the guest speakers. It happened Tuesday as well. “I saw it coming,” Estwick said. “It’s not the first time that’s happened since I’ve been here.”
In all seriousness, Estwick has been a great help to all of the students here and I can be the biggest witness to that.
Without hesitation, he has let me borrow his laptop and even gave me a memory stick to save my work on.
I still remember the first day (May 28) I got to Tampa, I got a text from Estwick about an hour after we got to the hotel. “You ready to work?” it said.
He has always shown a great work ethic and has tried to instill the same in us.
“The younger you are when you can figure out a lot of things and develop good working habits, it makes a difference between starting off making less than $20,000 a year and making in the 40s,” Estwick said.