Foul Territory

June 18, 2014

Remembering Richard Durrett the mentor

In the winter of 2008, I entered my first professional sports press box as a working member of the media.

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In the winter of 2008, I entered my first professional sports press box as a working member of the media.

I had pitched the story idea to one of my TCU professors to write a story on the college student discount the Dallas Stars were offering for their home games and managed to score a press pass for a game because of it.

Nervous about potentially sticking out like a sore thumb as a young student reporter with literally no experience in this realm, I reached out to Richard Durrett, then covering the Stars for the Dallas Morning News, in an attempt to have an advocate in that press box, knowing he was a TCU alumnus.

From that day on, he continued to be my biggest advocate.

As the sports editor for the TCU Daily Skiff in the fall of 2009, I constantly bugged Richard, who moved on to ESPN Dallas, covering TCU as one of his many beats, with question after question on the intricacies of covering a beat that no classroom could teach.

While he was always rushing around, posting more blogs and writing more stories than anyone else in those press boxes, he always had spare time to stop what he was doing to teach a lesson or give some advice that I still use today.

A few months later, diploma in hand, I took an unpaid internship in media relations for a local minor league baseball team as I searched for any way I could break into the Metroplex sports writing business — a task that can be a near-impossible feat.

As I rushed to carry my game notes into the press box for a job that wasn’t really what I’d hoped to be doing, Richard gave me a call, out of the blue.

In his friendly but rushed way, he told me ESPN Dallas was starting a high school page and they needed a beat reporter, so he pitched my name to his editor.

A month later, I had my first real journalism job.

As a co-worker, Richard pushed me. After just a year on the job, he had me in the Rangers press box with him several times through the summer assisting him when things got busy and, at that point, I had no business being there. Nervous and barely comprehending what I was doing, I sweated through the constant requests Richard had of me.

I survived his overdrive pace of work and I am better for it.

I know exactly how much he did for me professionally and it’s crazy to also know that I am just one of many, many young journalists in which Richard is to credit for their career as they know it now.

He was a wonderful role model for me of how to balance being a man of faith and work in a competitive industry where those two don’t always mix well. He was always a phone call away with any question I had — which I utilized as much as I possibly could.

Press boxes around the Metroplex just won’t be the same for me without Richard to fill them with kindness, selflessness and a work ethic that was second to none.

But if it weren’t for Richard Durrett, I don’t think any of those same press boxes would know my face.

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