How would you like to go to work every day and have hundreds of people, sometimes thousands, watching your every move and criticizing your every mistake? Wouldn’t you relish the opportunity to switch roles and be one of the ones doing the critiquing? Well that’s the opportunity that a couple of Mason student-athletes have had the past few months.
Ryan Gracia and Kimmy Moss have been both players and media in the fall season. Gracia played in the midfield for the men’s soccer team this year with a goal and three assists as the Patriots finished 8-7-2 and had a final RPI of 64. Moss was named second-team All-CAA after scoring two goals and handing out three assists from the back line as the women’s soccer team made the CAA Tournament and finished with a final RPI of 76.
Moss, who hopes to do to television or radio broadcasting in the future, has done color commentary for some of the men’s soccer Internet broadcasts. She also runs for the track and field team. Gracia, who wants to be a print or electronic journalist (preferably covering the NBA), has covered several events for Connect2Mason.
Both feel that being a student-athlete and having competed as well as having actual relationships with the people they’re covering has been a help, not a hindrance.
“As an athlete, covering another athlete, I know which part of the game is important to write about,” said Gracia, who came to Mason from Rockville, Md. Growing up in the area and loving basketball, it was natural for him to become a Wizards fan.
“I’m a huge NBA fan and I read all the blogs and articles about the NBA and I just really enjoy that style of writing,” Gracia said. “Whether it’s just something I continue with or a stepping stone, I think it’s a good start for me.”
Gracia has had the chance to cover Mason basketball, as he wrote the Connect2Mason story for the Patriots’ win over George Washington. He’s also had to deal with covering a tough Mason loss as he was on hand when the women’s volleyball team gave up a 2-0 lead over Northeastern in the season finale and lost, thereby missing out on a spot in the CAA Tournament. Finally, he’s also had the opportunity to cover some of his closest friends as he wrote about the 3-on-3 intramural basketball tournament won by Mason Soccer.
“Being a writer, you have an eye for the big plays and the most important things,” Gracia said. “You kind of have a sense of what the athletes are feeling whether they turn the ball over or hit the game-winning shot, you know the ups and downs of the game.
“I don’t think it’s too difficult (to be objective). Being an athlete and being able to understand writing, you kind of know what points to get at and what points not to get at. You’re not going to kill a guy for messing up.”
While Gracia chose to combine two of his loves, sports and writing, to pursue a career in sports writing, Moss has taken her main love, talking, and used it to work toward a career doing something she been a part of her whole life. Her father is Mike Moss, a long-time anchor for WTOP, the Washington area’s highest-rated radio station.
“When it comes down to what do I enjoy the most and what do I want to spend my life doing, I really enjoy talking, Moss said. “What had a big impact was my Dad being in the business. I kind of thought that it would be exciting to follow suit in that as well.”
Moss, who comes from nearby South Riding, has had plenty of experience through internships, including one with WUSA Channel 9. That gave her the opportunity to see every part of what made a TV station work. She also had experience at Mason when she worked several men’s soccer matches.
“It’s definitely hard to be objective when you’re broadcasting your own team,” Moss said. “You know them so well. But the biggest problem is you know more about your team than the other team. I would research for a couple of hours to learn the other players, but it’s just not the same.
“It’s a challenge, but it has its advantages. You can give insight that others can’t.”
Gracia, a junior, will be back next season for the Green and Gold. Moss just completed her senior season with the women’s soccer team but she has two years of eligibility remaining for track. She is weighing whether to apply for a graduate program at Mason so she can compete in 2012. So will the pair have to worry about saying something their fellow Mason student-athletes might take the wrong way?
“You have to be critical for both teams, it doesn’t matter who you’re for or who you’re against,” Gracia said. “You just have to convey it the right way.”
“You need to tread lightly around some sensitive issues or games that are going wrong in an athlete’s life,” Moss said. “But you’re not being fair to your audience if you’re not giving the complete picture.”