Linfield hosts Sports Journalism symposium


Of the News-Register

Lindsay Schnell’s byline never made the pages of the News-Register due to one serendipitous phone call.

In the summer of 2007, Schnell, then a rising junior at Oregon State University, had applied for and received a 10-week Snowden internship at a newspaper in the state of Oregon. Schnell was assigned to the News-Register in part because of her relationship with News-Register managing editor Steve Bagwell. In addition to his duties in McMinnville, Bagwell taught journalism at OSU (he also teaches mass communication courses at Linfield College), and Schnell had “taken everything that he had offered.”

Before she moved to McMinnville for the internship, Schnell received a call from a contact at Sports Illustrated – an internship position had opened up with one of the nation’s premier sports publications, and would she be interested in taking it?

“I called Steve and told him this was an offer I couldn’t turn down,” Schnell recalled. “He completely agreed. He has remained a friend, a mentor.”

It was all for the best. After a brief stint with ESPN Hoopgurlz (the media entity’s girls basketball recruiting website) and four years at The Oregonian, Schnell was hired on at Sports Illustrated as a full-time staff writer in February of 2014.

On Thursday, Feb. 26, Schnell will join three other influential figures in the world of sports business and sports media for Linfield College’s Sports Journalism Symposium, an event sponsored by Linfield’s Mass Communication Department, Sport Management program and the Nicholson Library.

The four-member panel includes Sports Illustrated senior writer Chris Ballard; Lindsay Kagawa Colas, vice president of action sports and Olympics at Wasserman Media Group and a prominent player agent; and Scott Brosius, the Linfield head baseball coach who played 11 seasons with Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics.

Linfield students will be able to meet with the panelists at informal or classroom settings on Feb. 26. A formal panel discussion will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Auditorium in Melrose Hall.

“I think it’s really cool that a small liberal arts school with a large percentage interested in sports journalism or sports as a profession, that they would want to put together a workshop to help students,” Schnell told her erstwhile internship destination on Feb. 17.

”There’s something awesome about hearing a student say, ‘I want to be just like you when I grow up.’”

The idea for the symposium germinated in February 2014, when Ballard lectured at Linfield. Ballard arrived on campus due to his connection with Linfield political science professor Pat Cottrell, a longtime friend.

“That gives us access to him in a way that we don’t with other people,” said Linfield mass communication professor Brad Thompson, one of the event’s organizers.

The Linfield mass communication professors brought their idea to Ballard, and he was receptive, according to Thompson, leading to the symposium’s development and further organization.

Symposium panelists will discuss current issues in sports media, with leeway to speak on other sports-related topics. Linfield will pay extra attention to the plight of women in sports media with the airing of the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary “Let Them Wear Towels,” which the college will show Feb. 26 at noon in Riley Hall, room 201. Schnell is slated to discuss the documentary afterward.

“We’ve got the writers,” Thompson said. “We’ve got the people that control the writing, they hope, and then we’ve got, right here on campus, Scott Brosius, the baseball player. He’s got experience in the most intense media market in the country.”

Brosius spent seven years with the A’s and four years with the Yankees. In 1998, Brosius was named World Series Most Valuable Player in the Yankees’ 4-0 sweep of the San Diego Padres; he also received his only All-Star Game selection that season. Brosius also won World Series with the Yankees in 1999 and 2000.

Ballard, who resides in Berkeley, California, has written three books and received numerous national awards for his magazine and newspaper pieces. Four of his stories have been anthologized in the Best American Sports Writing publication series, and four of his pieces have been optioned for feature films.

Kagawa Colas, who resides in Portland, represents a selection of the top American women’s basketball players, including Brittney Griner, Maya Moore and Elena Delle Donne. The former Stanford volleyball player has earned acclaim for her dealmaking, including the negotiation of a contractual agreement with Moore and Jordan Brand. Moore was the first female athlete to be signed by the Nike subsidiary.

“We are trying to make this as inclusive as possible,” Thompson said. “The student writers over in the English department ought to come to this because Chris Ballard is a fantastic feature writer. The other part, Linfield has a sport management program that is very interdisciplinary. We wanted to rope them into this too.”