RIR’s Fall Race

Posted: September 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

So, I know I’m pretty bad about updating the blog, but I hope that this weekend will be a jumpstart.

I’m going to be at Richmond International Raceway today, tomorrow and Saturday for all the events surrounding the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series race.

Today is a press conference for all the Chase Wild Card eligible drivers. There will be 11 there: Hamlin, Allmendinger, Martin, Truex, Kahne, Logano, Ragan, Ambrose, Menard, Montoya and Bowyer. Really excited about this opportunity.

After the press conference I’ll be getting back to the office and writing the story up and doing a normal night shift in the office.

News flash.

Virginia can get hot. Really hot.

Such was the case for me and anyone else at Cosby High School this past Wednesday for the semifinals of the Central Region girls soccer tournament. There were two games on the slate, Midlothian vs. Thomas Dale and Deep Run vs. Cosby.

At 5:30, the Midlo-TD game was in arguably the grips of the hottest part of the day. The match was actually delayed for over 30 minutes because the temperatures on the field were at around 105 degrees.

It was probably about that hot in the press box. At least it felt that way to me.

Now, I’m somewhat used to the heat as for the past seven summers I’ve worked at a cub scout summer camp where being out in ridiculously hot temperatures all day long is the norm.

It does take some getting back used to though.

So, I had multiple waters and Gatorade bottles piling up next to my computer and notepad in about the first ten minutes of the game.

Game 1 ended pretty quickly, with game 2 going into triple overtime. By the time I made it down to Deep Run’s sideline to interview the players and coaches, I felt like I had played multiple games of soccer myself, as sweat was pouring down my forehead.

Then, I ran my car and got to McDonald’s before the lobby closed so I could use their Wi-Fi and file the story. I then made it home and enjoyed a shower.

Friday was the girls and boys soccer final, also at Cosby. The girls game was at 5:30 and it could not have been more of a different atmosphere than Wednesday. The temperatures were in the 80s, low humidity and even a nice breeze. It was glorious and I felt like I could focus so much more on the game rather than constantly worry about if I was going to have to deal with the symptoms of heat exhaustion.

Deep Run was playing Midlothian and the Wildcats landed up winning 2-1, meaning I get to make the incredibly short trip (no sarcasm here, Deep Run HS is like 10 minutes away from my house, as opposed to the 25 minute drive to Cosby) and I will be covering that state tournament quarterfinal game on Tuesday. The semifinals are on Friday and the finals on Saturday.

Next week, I will be covering the re-opening race at Southside Speedway.

3 weeks

Posted: May 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

I know it has been about 4 weeks since I last updated here. (whoops).  I am going to try and keep this updated as much as possible these next 3 weeks, but as this post will detail, that might be a challenge.

Here is a rundown of my work schedule over the next three weeks:

May 31: Interview Sean Harrison, a Richmonder who is participating in something called the “Spartan Death Race”

June 1: Regional Semifinals (2 games) for girls soccer at Cosby High School

June 3: back to Cosby for the Regional GSoc final

June 7, June 10, June 11: State GSoc tournament in NoVA.

June 17: covering the re-opening of Southside Speedway

ASAP: Choose All-Metro team, contact coaches and players, get players into RTD for photos.

May not seem like a lot, but it is. I’m happy to do it though, I think it’ll be really good for me to be running around like this, despite how tired I’ll be on June 18 after it is all done. I’ve been told the summertime is pretty slow for the newspaper, with the lack of high school stuff to cover until late August with football and the other fall sports. So, it seems like a crazy late push before the summer slowdown before the fall sports start up.

I’ll try and update as much as possible about the goings on. Check out my RTD Twitter account which is @RTDBfellin for constant updates about where I’m at and what I’m doing.

For most people reading this post, knowing that I’m a huge NASCAR fan is no big surprise.

For those that don’t know…we’ll I’m a huge NASCAR fan and have been since I was a kid.

Well, this past weekend, the NASCAR series rolled into Richmond International Raceway and I was assigned to cover a few stories out at RIR on Friday.

I was speechless when I heard I was getting to go.

It was an absolutely amazing experience. I got to the track and went into the pedestrian tunnel, which goes underneath the track and into the infield, someplace I had never been at a NASCAR track. I was walking around and eventually made it to the infield media center and sat down at a station. There was a ton of media there, including people from ESPN, NASCAR Illustrated and other major media outlets. So I’m sitting there and Carl Edwards walks right by my chair and up to the table where his interview would occur.

The interview started and I got to ask him a question, which was awesome. After that, I went out into the area where all the fan experience and entertainment is, as well as the merchandise haulers were. My task was to find 6 diverse people and ask them a simple question: Who do you think will win the Sprint Cup race and why? I talked to 7 people total, but 1 didn’t want his picture taken so I couldn’t use that answer. After getting those taken care of, I made my way up to the press box, which was fantastic. I watched the Sprint Cup qualifying from up there, taking plenty of pictures and writing my three stories. I then got to sit back and enjoy the Nationwide race and left before the traffic was too bad.

The smile never left my face.

All in all it was a great experience that I can’t wait to get back to and have a larger role in.

So, guess what?

Posted: April 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

Yesterday, I went and covered a World of Outlaws race at Virginia Motor Speedway.

I was not scheduled to cover the World of Outlaws race. In fact, I wasn’t supposed to work Sunday at all.

I think that’s one thing that I’ve had to re-learn, almost, in my tenure thus far with the Times-Dispatch. Thinking on your feet, being able to adapt to something new, something that you didn’t expect to be doing, is very important. At CNU I had to do this quite a bit with The Captain’s Log and CNU TV, when something would come up that we would want to cover and I’d have to figure out how to work it into the section, work out where and when equipment would be checked out, etc.

At camp, we call it MARFing. MARF stands for Maximum Absolute Rigid Flexibility. It means stick to the plan when it’s normal conditions, but if conditions change (read: weather) then be ready to do whatever you are told until you are told something different. The plan, in that case, is thrown out and a new one is constantly being written and adjusted.

It was also a very unusual situation. As Steve explained to me in the office on Friday night, the race was originally scheduled to run on Saturday night. If that were the case, then just a short story would have been written in the office from information in the press release.  On Friday though, the weather forecast was calling for severe storms on Saturday and lots of rain, so the probability of the race being postponed to Sunday was pretty high. The deal was that if the race was rained out, then I had Saturday off and would cover the race on Sunday. If the race wasn’t rained out, then I had both Saturday and Sunday off.

Saturday came and it just absolutely poured all day long, with severe storms across the state, even with a few tornadoes around as well. I was in Charlottesville in the morning through the afternoon with Emily and her family to see her sister’s dance performance at UVA and there were even tornado warnings there.

Around 7 p.m. I called in to the office to see if the race had indeed been postponed and after a bit of searching, we discovered that it was pushed to Sunday. So, I knew that this was a possibility and had planned accordingly.

I set off for the track at about 1 p.m. and made it there at around 2:30. The track is in Jamaica, VA and it is a very pretty area of the state that I didn’t know about until yesterday. I picked up my media credentials and after a phone call or two, met up with the PR director for VMS who escorted me into the press box for the race.

The race started at approximately 3:45 p.m., so I had some time to get my bearings, learn some background on the favorites and who to look out for.

For those that may not know, the World of Outlaws (WoO) is a touring series that runs sprint cars and late modified cars. If you’ve ever seen cars racing on dirt tracks, essentially drifting through the turns and have that wing on the top of the cars, those are the sprint versions. These cars I saw looked more like race cars, but were a bit different. For one, the bumper area of the car was just a roll cage, there was no bumper to protect it. In comparison to NASCAR, the pit stops take much longer and are much less frequent. Also, under caution (of which there were 9) they don’t count laps under caution toward the overall lap count. So, for example in a NASCAR race,  whether it be the trucks, Nationwide or Sprint Cup, if a caution occurs on lap 10 and there are 3 laps of caution, then the field will restart at lap 13. In the WoO, if the caution falls on lap 10, then the restart on lap 10. Very interesting and something I had to become adjusted to really quickly.

Other than trying to learn some of the unique quirks of this touring series, and names of the drivers, it was just like covering any event. Pay attention to the action, take notes and ultimately enjoy it.

After the race, the winner and second place driver came up to the media box for interviews and I asked the questions I needed to ask and then wrote the story. The box had wireless, which was great, so I just signed on, wrote the story to about 541 words, which equates to about 15 inches. I sent it into the TDsports email account, called it in and then drove the hour and a half back to my house.

I think I learned a lot yesterday, looking back on it. I needed to do a lot thinking on my feet, especially in preparation for the event. I think that I pulled it off quite well.

Next big assignment is covering some stories at Richmond race weekend at RIR. Should be awesome.

Kurt Busch

Posted: April 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

So this was quite a day for me. For those that don’t know, I’m a huge NASCAR fan and when my editor told me I’d have the chance to meet Kurt Busch, one of the top flight drivers on the Sprint Cup circuit. I was to write both a story and shoot video on the day’s events.

My day started at Richmond International Raceway, where I met up with RIR’s PR director as well as another reporter from another paper.  We drove up to Quantico MCB and got the day started with Busch talking to a group of Marines in an auditorium about a bunch of different things. Some of the Marines had questions for him, which he answered all of and at length as well. Followed that up with an autograph and photograph session, which I’m sure was awesome for the Marines.

While Busch was signing autographs, I was being instructed to put on a Kevlar helmet, Goretex digital camo jacket and Kelvar vest. This was all since we were going to be going to a training area with live ammo being fired off, so it was all pre-cautionary and everyone going had to do it.

Also, it was really, really cool.

After that, we hopped on a bus to head over to the training area and got a few safety talks before the main event: the launching of a mortar. The president of RIR and Busch both got to put the ammo into the barrel and have it be fired. It was loud and there was a pretty good thump in your chest when it fired. After that, he was interviewed by a few cameras out on the range, which I also filmed, but it wasn’t my time just yet to ask him questions.

After the range, we went to a mess hall for lunch and had some pretty good food. I had a nice salad and a grilled cheese sandwich. Then, I finally got to talk to the driver of the No. 22 car.

First off, he was a real nice guy. I wasn’t star-struck or anything and asked my questions in a poignant and precise way. I got all the interview on tape, obviously and afterward, I just said hi to him, joked with him and “thanked” him for winning at Atlanta last year, when I picked him in my pool and got a picture with him as well.

I got alot of praise on the article and video and it’s even traveled beyond RTD by appearing on a TV station in Roanoke’s page.

Monument Avenue 10K

Posted: April 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

So, the last post was a bit of a catch up post, but I didn’t include the 10K in it because I feel like it was such a large event that it deserves its’ own post.

The day started very, very early. I woke up at Eric, Chuck and Jessi’s apartment (known hereafter as 707), at 6:45 a.m. I walked from there to Monroe Park, which was about 1.8 miles. Having never been to Monroe Park before, let alone there on 10K day. I was a bit awestruck, but I saw some familiar faces there in the persons of Vic Dorr, fellow reporter who gave me some tips and an old acquantaince from high school who was working PR at the race, so that was a pleasant surprise.

My tasks at the race were:

1. Social media: I logged into the RTDSports account and was tweeting basically the entire time I was there, which was about 5 hours.

2. Dash for the Cash winner: Before the race, a runner is picked to run the “dash”, which means he gets about a 2 mile head start. If he finishes first, he gets $2,500. If the elite runners behind him catch him and finish before him, they get that money. Well, it was close but Pena did it, only finishing 12 seconds ahead of the 1st place runner. He was a great guy, very nice interview.

3. Dress Up and Run: RTD does a contest for people who dress up in crazy costumes and run the race. This year, a guy who dressed up with an Angry Birds theme won the individual/duo contest and 12 people dressed up as a bowling ball and bowling pins won the group one. It was pretty cool to talk to them as well. The girls who came in second place in the individual/duo were acting like they won the lottery when they found out they had gotten 2nd, that was great to see that kind of excitement.

4. Vignettes: I had to go around and find the feel good stories, people that have a story to share but it’s not enough for a full fledged article. So, I found 3 friends that only see each other at races like the 10K, a guy wearing a Kentucky jersey in the sea of VCU supporters and I used the story of the 2nd place individual/duo contest winners as my third vignette. I think they came out very well too.

I landed up leaving the race at about 11:30. I made it back to the 707 at 12, then had to take Cary St. to work, which too much longer, so I got there at 12:30. I got some food, which I hadn’t had all day, so that was a major need. Got everything I needed to do done and then headed back to the 707 and finally home.

It was a long, long day. I felt like I had run a 10K myself by the end of the day. But, I made it and everything came out great and that’s what matters.

On to another week!

April 3, 2011

Posted: April 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

So, I realize that it’s been quite a while since I created the blog and since I’ve gotten a chance to write a new post. So, now seemed like just as good a time as any to go ahead and give an update here.

To say I’ve been busy is an understatement. Since I’ve started at the Times-Dispatch, I’ve written 5 articles and have had a lot of time in the office, answering phones and writing box scores.

However, to say that I’ve been having fun is also an understatement. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, there’s a significant learning curve. But this is what I went to school for and what I really want to do, at least at this point in my life, so I’m trying to soak it all in and enjoy it and make my mark.

The first article I wrote was about the local swim club in the area, NOVA, going to the championships in Orlando, FL. It wasn’t that bad of a write-up, I just had to make a few phone calls. However, what was probably the hardest thing about that article, and the articles subsequent to that one, is that ten inches in a story sounds like a lot. In reality, it’s really, really not. It goes really quick, but I’ve been trying to learn more about how to get my writing more succinct. So, while it was a shock at first, but it’s been a good teaching tool.

After that was the high school girl’s soccer preview, which is my spring sports beat. Pretty straightforward, just writing up what the coaches had sent in on preview sheets.

My next article was one  on Maddie Ward, a female hockey player that has to travel to Raleigh, NC to play because of a lack of a 16 and under team in the Richmond area. This was a great opportunity for me to get out and do a profile piece. I jumped on the chance.  She was a great interview and both she and her parents are incredibly nice people and were incredibly helpful. It turned out great.

“And the pitch…”

Posted: March 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

Greetings! If you’ve stumbled across this blog it’s for one of two reasons:

1. You know who I am and enjoy reading my thoughts.

2. You have no idea who I am, but think it’s a really cool idea what I’m doing here.


For those in the latter group, a brief introduction is in order. My name is Billy and I’m a 23-year-old resident of Richmond, VA. I went to school at Christopher Newport University where I found my calling my senior year in the form of the #commnerd family that was created in the Communication Studies department. Not only did I find my calling there, but I was sports editor for The Captain’s Log, the newspaper of Christopher Newport University. There, with my assistant sports editor Cassie, I created and edited a weekly sports page for the weekly paper. We also worked in the multimedia wing of the paper, known as CNU TV, and created “Overtime” a video-report of all the happenings of the Captains.

I graduated in May of 2010 and found all these opportunities in front of me. With that came quite a lot of stress as well as decisions to be made. I started throwing my resume and applications out anywhere I could. Eventually, in October of 2010, I had an interview with the Sports desk at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Long story short, I was hired in March of 2011 and this past week has been my first week at RTD.

Sports has been a passion of mine quite literally since I was born. Writing has been a passion of mine since as far back as I can remember. It seemed quite appropriate to merge the two together and make a career out of it and that’s exactly what I have set out to do.

So, this blog is a living memory device of what I have learned in my first week and what I hope to experience in the coming weeks/months/years of employment.

Please feel free to leave any comments along the way and let me know what you think about my journey!! I will try and post any helpful hints and tips to any budding journalists out there!