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Vol. 57, No. 1 • November 2019 • .pdf version
Yahoo team a back-to-back best-writing contest winner
Yahoo's investigative team of Pete Thamel, Pat Forde and Dan Wetzel was a first-place winner for the second year in row in the USBWA's best-writing contest.
Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News & Observer and Chris Heady of the Omaha World-Herald were first-place winners and among six contestants to place in two categories. Dan Greene of Sports Illustrated and David Woods of the Indianapolis Star also were first-place winners.
Thamel, Forde and Wetzel continued to lead the way in investigative/enterprise category for a series of stories about the FBI's investigation in college basketball, and in particular one that included a "strong-ass" lead:
"A 2017 phone conversation intercepted by the FBI between LSU coach Will Wade and basketball middleman Christian Dawkins features Wade speaking freely about a 'strong-ass offer' he made in the recruitment of a prospect, Yahoo Sports has learned."
DeCock took fourth place for moderate-length features and won in spot news/game coverage for a story about Zion Williamson's damaged sneaker that spoke volumes about college basketball's relationship with shoe companies. DeCock wrote:
"A delegation from Nike flew in Thursday evening to meet with Duke officials, underscoring how the role Zion Williamson's shoe failure played in his knee injury has become a billion-dollar concern."
Heady took fourth in spot news/game coverage and first in column writing for his memories of his first season as Nebraska's beat writer. Heady recalled when Huskers coach Tim Miles asked him if his breath smelled. He wrote:
"That is what covering this Nebraska basketball season was like. It made no sense. It entertained, it confused, it confounded, challenged, concerned and compelled."
Greene won the magazine-length features category by also writing about shoes – those worn by Memphis coach Penny Hardaway.
"The shoe is cool," Greene wrote. "This, since being hired as the coach of Memphis in March, has been a big part of Hardaway's job: being cool. Or, more specifically, making Memphis basketball cool, in a way it hasn't been for some time."
Woods won the moderate-length features category for his story on the life-and-death struggle faced by Butler's Sean McDermott. Woods wrote:
"Sean McDermott wanted to live. Not just live. Live like he once did. Five years later, he is doing so. It has taken that long to recover from a staph infection that left him unable to walk, that could have killed him."
Other multiple winners included John Feinstein of the Washington Post (second in spot news/game coverage; third in moderate-length features); Patrick Borzi of the New York Times (second in moderate-length features; fourth in column writing); John Akers of Basketball Times (third in enterprise/investigative writing; fifth in column writing); and freelancer Mitchell Northam (fourth in magazine-length features; fifth in spot news/game coverage).
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