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June 16, 2024

Sports, spilled cereal and Jim Valvano: A reflection on my three years at The News-Letter

By ERIC GOODMAN | May 17, 2021

BERNARD GAGNON/CC BY-SA 3.0 Goodman attended and covered the Lacrosse final four and national championship games at Gillette Stadium in 2008.

Hello. I’m Eric Goodman — Hopkins Class of 2011. I worked on The News-Letter from 2007-2010, the first year as a Sports section staff writer and the last two years as a Sports Editor. Since graduating from Hopkins, I have worked in consulting in D.C. and New York, got an MBA at New York University and now work and live in Seattle with my wife who also went to Hopkins (Class of 2013). 

I wrote numerous articles (52 according to a search on the old News-Letter website) many of which I still remember vividly. One in particular was the sudden disbandment of the varsity crew team which was my first “scoop” — including interviewing numerous extremely unhappy coaches and students who were contemplating transferring from Hopkins. 

Another notable article covered Jimmy V (Valvano) cancer awareness week on ESPN. This was notable because in the process of writing about the ties between Jim Valvano (who won a basketball NCAA championship as head coach of North Carolina State University in 1983) and cancer research, I uncovered something which none of us knew — that Jimmy V’s first ever head coaching job was, in fact, at Hopkins as a 23-year-old in 1969. I interviewed former athletic director Bob Scott, who recalled that the University administrators all thought he would coach the New York Knicks one day due to his personality, and that he helped sell lacrosse tickets. 

I also got to cover and attend the 2008 Lacrosse final four and national championship games at Gillette Stadium, where the New England Patriots play, in which Hopkins lost to Syracuse University after a thrilling final four win over Duke University (unfortunately, as of this writing, Hopkins has not returned to the national championship game). 

My final article featured my junior and senior year roommate, Max Wieder, as Athlete of the Week. Max had set both the Hopkins single season and career record for fencing sabre wins, which is why we featured him. But in actually sitting down and doing a formal interview, I learned all of these interesting things about him that I had never known despite having lived with him for two years — including the fact his coaches felt he had the athletic potential and fencing IQ to be an Olympic medalist. Other fun articles included the 100-year anniversary of Homewood Field, for which I remember we did a crazy front page graphic, and an article on crazy sports championships

I first decided to join The News-Letter because it seemed like the best way to combine my passions for sports and writing while getting to meet some good people in the process. While I got to write many fun and interesting stories during my four years on the paper, some of my best memories were actually the parties — specifically those that took place in the Gatehouse. 

I remember after one particularly raucous night I returned the next morning with our Editor-in-Chief to assess the damage, and, amazingly, the entire place had been cleaned up by a hard-working member of the Hopkins janitorial staff (whom I think we tipped $50 given the damage from the prior night, which included several hundred red solo cups and multiple spilled cereal boxes). 

When I was both a writer and an editor we had a great group of people from all different social and affinity groups within the University which, coupled with some exceptionally hard workers and good leaders, was the special sauce that made The News-Letter so successful, and has continued to help the paper through 125 years of existence. I also remember the free gourmet dinners two days a week from Carma’s and Gertrude’s.

While it was difficult to come up with compelling stories each week (at one point I think I advocated that The News-Letter become a bi-weekly paper), I felt we maintained a very high journalistic and relatively professional standard, which was especially important given some pretty important stories that happened during my tenure — including the arrest of dozens of students during the celebrations following Obama’s first presidential election, some controversial on-campus speakers and, more tragically, a grisly off-campus murder of a home intruder by a student during my junior year. 

Being a member of The News-Letter was an excellent platform as a creative outlet and allowed me to build skills as both a writer and also an editor in the management of the Sports section. It was my first real leadership opportunity at Hopkins as I had a team of up to 10 staff writers, several of whom I was able to help grow into future editors. The News-Letter was definitely one of the more important things I did during my time at Hopkins. Onward!

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