Coverage of Fennville high school basketball player Wes Leonard, who died after hitting a game-winning shot in March 2011. I gave our readers the only first-hand account of the night’s tragic events. Leonard’s story went national overnight, was featured on ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” and his team was nominated for the “Best Sports Moment” ESPY.
- First place, spot news, 2011 Michigan Press Association Better Newspaper contest
- JUDGE’S COMMENT: “Not all sports reporters are capable of reporting hard news. Jon Schultz obviously can, and The Holland Sentinel was fortunate to have someone with a sports reporter’s deadline savvy to deliver this story as quickly and thoroughly as he did on a tough deadline. The story starts with an strong summary lead, then goes into a logical progression of ensuing events, reactions and scene description. Schultz deftly contrasted the excitement of a thrilling finish to an important basketball game, punctuated by its star player’s winning basket, with the tragic, anxiety-filled aftermath when that star player collapsed and later died. I could envision the people standing around, jolted from celebration to confusion and devastation. I could picture the opposing team players’ praying for their fallen rival in the locker room afterward. Schultz made the scene real to me. There’s little to nitpick about what more could have been included in this story when Schultz gathered the variety of relevant interviews that he did while working against the clock. This category is spot news, and Schultz was spot on.”
- First place, sports writing, 2011 Michigan Press Association Better Newspaper contest
- JUDGE’S COMMENT: “This was a well-written story that captured the horror of the sudden death of a student athlete moments after a great victory. This story got national attention, but I still got choked up reading this story months later.”
- Second place, sports writing, 2011 Michigan Press Association Better Newspaper contest
ENTERPRISE / IN-DEPTH FEATURES
I pride myself on asking the questions that take a story to a deeper level, and this often leads to issues that transcend sports. I try to represent athletes as the true people they are. So often they are relegated to a superhuman pedestal that makes it hard to relate and empathize with them.
- Third place, sports feature, 2011 Michigan Press Association Better Newspaper contest
Michigan State University quarterback Kirk Cousins has an enormous following in his hometown of Holland, so we made him a priority and I essentially was assigned to his beat. This presented the challenge of bringing our readers unique content 100 miles from campus when competing with a slew of MSU beat writers. It also tested my creativity in bringing a fresh approach to every story on him during his career.
- Third place, sports column, 2009 Michigan Associated Press contest
- Third place, sports column, 2011 Michigan Press Association Better Newspaper contest
Writing an enticing game story has become more challenging as the industry evolves. By the time the newspaper hits the readers’ coffee table, they likely already know what happened. I strive to give them something more.
Kicker Bryan Holmes the hero in West Ottawa’s playoff win
Calvin goes deep in rivalry win over Hope basketball
Nic Kiekover’s 5 TDs leads Holland Christian past Hamilton
West Ottawa ‘Pink Out’ cancer fundraiser
GVSU football spring game highlights and interviews