In the Spring of 2012, following his outstanding Spring Game performance, Oregon quarterback, Marcus Mariota, found himself in the lime light that is the college football media frenzy. That frenzy never stopped. Two years later, that once quiet, young Hawaiian has learned to not only hold his head up high but to even smile a bit in the face of all those cameras. What he may not have known was that his media journey would end up helping a very nervous new reporter in the middle of that media huddle.
In the Spring of 2013, I found myself covering one of the best teams in College Football. I wasn’t a journalism student, a sportscaster or a newspaper columnist. I was just a girl who loved football and wanted to inspire other girls to love it too. For the first several months, I stood in the media mix, terrified every time I spoke up and too embarrassed to push my way to the front. Practice after practice, press conference after press conference, I would watch intently and do my best not to studder or ask a “dumb” question. It was Marcus though who unknowingly gave me the confidence to continue. It’s hard to explain unless you are around him, but there’s just a calming presence about him- a presence this media rookie needed.
But, this isn’t about me. It’s about Marcus. It’s about who he is before the cameras are rolling, how much he’s grown while they’re rolling and just how his new confidence will translate on the field this season.
Somewhere in the middle of all the on-camera interviews with Marcus, you will find this one. It wasn’t filmed in a fancy ESPN studio by one of the greats and it wasn’t hosted by a poised beauty queen. It was simply done by me, a nervous, yet passionate, reporter finding her way.
What you won’t see in this interview is the moment Marcus gave me an encouraging high-five to ease my nerves and reminding me about his own on-camera journey. You also won’t see him telling me to take my time despite the fact I was making him late to an important golf game with his teammates. What you will see is Marcus- unscripted, confident and heartfelt- just helping a new reporter make it though one of the most challenging moments of her career.
Tomorrow, Marcus will take the field and begin what is believed to be his last season with the Ducks. I have no doubt he will be leading his team with even more poise and confidence than ever before. As I told him after the interview, he’s grown so much and is ready for the big time- something he absolutely deserves both as a player. . .and a person.