By ERICK LEHMAN, Managing Editor
Erick Lehman is the Managing Editor for The Michigan Journal. Erick’s views do not necessarily reflect those of The Journal.
As I stood on the sideline at Trenton High School Friday night, a whirlwind of emotions were running through me. I felt nervous, excited, scared and proud at the same time. It was something I had worked towards for a few years, and something I would not have expected I would be doing five years ago. I was preparing my stat sheet as I covered the first round of the MHSAA High School Football playoffs for the Monroe Evening News, my first paid writing venture.
I was never a writer in high school. I got C’s on papers if I was lucky, and I cringed every time a teacher would talk about an upcoming paper. I just wasn’t much of a writer.
I thought I had it figured out when I was younger — I was accident prone and probably spent more time in a physical therapy office than I did at my own house growing up. I loved sports and wanted to earn money being around sports, so as a young freshman in high school, during my last round of physical therapy from a ruptured Achilles tendon, I studied what the physical therapist whom I have known for about six years to this point did. I asked questions and got answers. I decided then that I was going to go to school for physical therapy.
Out of high school, I attended Oakland University, where I was set to study to become a physical therapist to stick around sports as much as I could. I took some athletic training classes that prepared me for what I would endure semesters later, and I loved it. I knew I was in the right place doing the right thing.
When I first went to college, I still dreaded writing papers. However, the difference was I was able to write about what I wanted, I chose my topics for research papers, persuasive papers and so on. Instantly, I went from struggling to get C’s on papers to getting no worse than a B+ on a paper in my first two college writing classes. But still, writing had never crossed my mind.
Going into my second year at Oakland, something went wrong with the financial aid, and I was unable to pay the hefty tuition out of my own pocket, so I was left with no choice but to leave two weeks into the semester. I was devastated that I had to leave the first school I visited, the first school I applied to.
After taking a semester off, I went to Baker College of Allen Park for a very short stint, one semester where I was studying to earn an Associate’s Degree to become a Physical Therapist Assistant. It was cheap, quick, and I could still do similar things as I wanted, but I wasn’t quite happy. I gained a close relationship with my medical terminology professor, who one day met with me after class with a packet of information on the Physical Therapy program at Wayne State University, and told me I was too smart to be where I was and that I needed to transfer there. So I did.
I was transferring for a second time; I felt stupid doing it, but I wanted to chase my dreams.
Mid-way through my first semester at Wayne State, I went to see my advisor for a routine visit. I wanted to get a degree plan set up and see when my graduation timetable was. The meeting quickly took a turn in the wrong direction.
My advisor explained to me the very tough process to get accepted into the Wayne State physical therapy program, and told me you basically had to have a 4.0 to get in. I was told my 3.4 GPA at the time was not nearly good enough to get in, even if I had the most volunteer hours they’ve ever seen. Basically, I was told I wasn’t smart enough.
Devastated again, I didn’t know what to do.
I searched and searched what Wayne State offered for degrees, and saw journalism. It was one of about three or four majors that I had written down to look into. I wanted to stay close to sports, and it was the only option that could keep me there.
After a few weeks of deliberation, right before finals week of the fall semester I changed my major officially to journalism, but I was unhappy being at Wayne State after what had happened with my advisor.
I continued the winter semester as a journalism major, and looked for other schools to transfer to. I was going to transfer again; I felt even dumber than I did before because I was going to yet another school, but I had to do what was best for me.
My best friend at the time attended University of Michigan-Dearborn, and told me they offered journalism. I went to his house one day and he had his course catalog out and when I saw that a sports writing class was offered, I was instantly sold.
This is where the boring story gets kind of crazy.
I was at a Red Wings playoff game. We took our seats early after getting dinner, and I scrolled through Twitter to find out who the starting goalie was and if Henrik Zetterberg would play.
Earlier in the day, I noticed that UM-Dearborn had a student newspaper, so I gave them a follow. Minutes later I saw a tweet that offered students to become sports writers for that paper, no experience needed. That tweet was sent out by none other than Ricky Lindsay, our Editor-in-Chief here at The Michigan Journal.
In just a matter of moments, my journalism career had sprung open while I sat at Joe Louis Arena.
Since that day at the Joe, I have been a beat writer for the UM-Dearborn hockey team for the journal, attended the Jim Harbaugh introductory press conference, became a Michigan football beat writer for Maize and Blue Nation, and as of this past Friday, a freelance writer for the Monroe Evening News.
The ride to journalism has in fact been crazy, and it has been wild without a doubt. I may have been set back in terms of when I will graduate, but I am in the right place, doing what I love, writing about sports. If I would have told my high school self that in five years I would be a writer, I would have laughed. But when you’re writing about what you love, it comes as second nature.