Eric Woodyard

I was raised on Avenue B, grew up idolizing Mateen Cleaves, listening to the Dayton Family, and still to this day I haven’t seen a better basketball player perform in person than Cory Hightower.

In 2006, I graduated from Flint Southwestern Academy. And in 2010, I graduated as a Bronco from Western Michigan University with a degree in journalism.

Don’t get it twisted though, I will always be a Knight. So when my fellow Knight Mark Ingram won the Heisman trophy in 2009, I talked trash to everyone who wasn’t on his bandwagon. Shoutout to Charlie Bell too, he still has the Knights looking good on the hardwood with the Golden State Warriors. Anthony Crater’s balling at South Florida and Quintin Woods is graduating from Kansas and looking for a shot at the NFL. That’s how we Flintstones roll.

We support those trying to make it, rep hard, and we’re confident in our abilities. It can be described as having that “dog” in you. Take Mateen, for example, fighting through that ankle injury in the 2000 National Championship and still leading his troops to victory or Ingram gaining more yards after the contact on the football field. That “dog” wasn’t put in them overnight, it was something that was put in them as children from their environment.

I understand that it’s a grind to make it from our city, and that only the strong survive. I say our city because I’m in the same situation as everyone else residing in Flint, and I generally care about what goes on. It’s our city. I care about how we are represented to the world as well as what changes are being to made to make it the best possible place to live.

This is why in some ways, even as minute as it may seem, I feel like I can make an impact by telling sports stories for our local paper. Sports has put our city on the map. It has served as our pipeline to be talked about all over the country. We have such a rich history of producing top-tier athletes. Some of those athletes have made it and others have succumbed to the pitfalls here that have landed them nowhere. I want to tell all these stories.

The toughness that I learned here has allowed me to travel all around the world and meet an endless amount of people in prestigious places and I’m always proud to tell them where I’m from. I’ve interviewed rappers, shook hands with basketball legends, took pictures with superstars but none of this would have been possible if I didn’t develop the grind that I learned in Genesee County.

If you aren’t from Flint you may not understand any of these things, and I’m aware of that. But this is my connection to the city. I am willing to serve as your voice for any sports story, past or present, that you’ve always wanted to read about. Just hit me up by phone or by e-mail. I’m home!

*this post can also be viewed on mlive.com!

By Sue Ellen Christian

A School of Communication student fielded questions from local grade schoolers as part of the children’s Career Day assembly on Jan. 28, 2010. Journalism major Eric J. Woodyard from Flint, Mich., spoke to the school-wide assembly about what life as a WMU Bronco is like. The students had watched a 12-minute video prepared by Associate Prof. of Journalism Sue Ellen Christian that featured Woodyard talking about what made college worthwhile and fun. The purpose of Career Day was to inspire elementary students in this elementary, which is part of the Kalamazoo Public School system and just a mile from WMU, to be “college ready.” With Woodyard is Winchell Principal Michael Hughes, who emphasized the uniqueness and value of the Kalamazoo Promise, the scholarship of up to 100 percent of tuition at any of Michigan’s state colleges or universities, including WMU. Students asked Woodyard a variety of questions, such as whether his homework was hard, how manyclasses he could take during one semester, and what happened if he was late for class.
 
Here are the Photos:

Eric Woodyard going through drills at the University of Michigan's Media Day.

After years of following the game of basketball and playing as well, I have come to the realization that some players are just born to play the sport! Despite my opinion on the issue, this doesn’t mean that a player can’t work his or herself into becoming great at the sport.

Take Philadelphia 76ers guard, Allen Iverson for an example, the guy doesn’t dedicate long hours to the sport but instead he just goes out and plays and has become one of the greatest players to ever touch the rock. On the other hand, a player like Los Angeles Lakers guard, Kobe Bryant constantly hones his skills up to 8 hours a day and has willed himself into becoming “arguably” the greatest shooting guard of all-time.

What I am going to share with you are a list of tips that can help you improve your chances at becoming the next Kobe Bryant or LeBron James (…not seriously!) of whatever league or pick-up games that you decide to participate in in the near future.

1.       PRACTICE YOUR SKILLS

This should be the most basic tip that you will ever learn but most players fail to practice in their own free time and the results always show in the end. In order to be good or great at anything, you have to practice the fundamentals of the craft. In this case for basketball, you have to work on your dribbling, both left and right-handed, your shooting, passing and defense.  There are several drills that you can do ALONE that can help you improve at your skills.

2.       STAY IN SHAPE

No matter how hard you work on your skills, if you are not in the proper shape than you will not be able to execute those skills when you finally face your competition because you will be too tired. Some great ways to stay in shape and keep your cardio good are to run and swim. Typically, running a mile at least 3-4 times a week will be more than enough but swimming is also a great tool because it doesn’t put as much tension on your legs and you get the same results.

3.       EAT RIGHT

You cant eat burgers and fries everyday and expect to go out and perform up to your full potential. It may not affect you right now but in the long run it will take it’s affect as it will slow you down. Try to take at least one multi-vitamin each day to get all the nutrients you need and lay off the fast-food and try baked foods sometimes.

4.       GET REST

Try to get at least 5 or more hours of sleep each night so that your body will be well rested and you wont feel sluggish when you’re are ready to compete. There’s nothing worse than being tired even before you get ready to compete.

5.       STUDY THE GAME

There’s no way that you can be good at something if you have no clue of what made other people successful at the sport. When watching a basketball game, pick apart what the good players do and use them yourself and even go back and research what the great players like Michael Jordan, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and Larry Bird all did in order to be successful and incorporate them into your own game.

I’m not guaranteeing that these tips will help you immediately, but with hard work and dedication to the sport, they will definitely benefit you in the long run. Remember this: “HARD WORK BEATS TALENT WHEN TALENT WON’T WORK HARD!”

*This post can also be viewed in the Western Herald or on westernherald.com! 

SLAM 135 IS A SPECIAL MAGAZINE FOR ME BECAUSE IT IS THE FIRST MAGAZINE THAT MY WORK HAS BEEN PUBLISHED IN! IF YOU GET A CHANCE GO PICK IT UP. MY ARTICLE IS IN THE “BACKBOARD” SECTION NEAR THE END AND IT’S A STORY WITH FORMER-DETROIT PISTON ADRIAN DANTLEY.

CHECK IT OUT…

hook

By Eric Woodyard
Western Herald

 For general purposes, over 400 professors teach, around 25,000 students are enrolled, and more than 900 employees work full-time on Western Michigan University’s campus. With this immense number of personalities, it’s a distinctive honor for only one man to be dubbed “the voice of the Broncos.”

This man is Robin Hook!

Hook has been handling the play-by-play radio announcing duties for WMU football, men’s and women’s basketball and hockey, since 1984. With 26 years in the profession, the job still continues to bring excitement and the motivation for him to want to return to work on a daily basis.

“I just enjoy athletics and sports in general and being around athletes because I’m a competitive person. And it’s not like a job, it’s just a lot of fun to come and be part of an athletic program every day,” Hook said.

Although Hook graduated from WMU in 1978 with a major in marketing, he was always interested in broadcasting even in his adolescent years.
“I like the variety, I like the fact that I’m able to do football, hockey and basketball because I like all of them. But I can’t say that I have a favorite.”

Growing up in Bellville, Mich. without cable networks like ESPN, he often listened to the legendary Michigan sports announcers like Bob Reynolds (Detroit Red Wings) and Ernie Harwell (Detroit Tigers) to be informed of the latest action.

Listening to these broadcasters sparked the early flames for Hook’s love affair with news casting which is perhaps why, after graduating with his degree in a vastly different area, he was still able to make a smooth transition to the airwaves so successfully.

Hook began his tenure as an on-air radio personality mostly with WKMI-AM in Kalamazoo, for 15 years. In 1995, he then joined the WMU Department of Athletics and was later promoted to the Assistant Athletic Director for Broadcast Services position in 1998, which is his current title.

Throughout the years, Hook has been awarded the opportunity to cover many of the great Bronco games.

“Back in 1988, we won the MAC football championship, [which] is only the second championship that we’ve won,” he said.

Hook also announced three of the four Bowl games in the history of Western Michigan football.

“We won the MAC basketball championship back in 2004 and went to the NCAA Tournament that year as well, so that was very exciting,” Hook said.
“I really like calling hockey games and we’ve had some big wins over Michigan and Michigan State over the years that are games that you always remember. I went to Joe Louis Arena and I’ve been to the NCAA Tournament in hockey too, so those tournament opportunities are always special.”

Chronicling these games has also opened the doors for relationships with former student-athletes.

“It’s really fun to see some of these kids to go on and play professional sports. Of course, Greg Jennings and all his great plays, and now he’s in the National Football League. And Louis Delmas, who is now with the Detroit Lions, who obviously played here for four years.

“It’s exciting to see them progress. And it’s not just the ones who have moved on and played professionally, but the other guys who have also had successful careers in business or whatever. It’s just fun to see them when they come back and have reunions.”

Forming these bonds is something that Hook hopes he can continue to do as long as the university permits him to work as an employee.
While it may be a battle for certain employees to differentiate themselves on the campus of WMU, it’s clear to see that Robin Hook has had no problem excelling as the ever present voice of Bronco athletics.

*click on the pic to view this post at the Western Herald!

Ryan Slocum Interview!

July 21, 2009

slocum 

*Click on the pic to view this post at It’s Just Sports!

Favoring an ESPN/upbeat style in his delivery, Flint natives are blessed on a nearly nightly basis to watch ABC 12’s Ryan Slocum perform at work. 

Whenever the bright lights have grazed his pupils and tanned his skin, he has delivered the latest news in sports with vibrant energy. For the past seven years he has worked in his hometown covering the latest in local sports as well as the national events in the area like the Buick Open, the Final Four,the NBA Finals, and the Super Bowl.

After catching up with the two-time Emmy nominee, he had a few things to soundoff about (cough, cough…Pistons, Tigers, and Tiger Woods.)

EW: What are your thoughts on the Pistons moves this summer?

RS: I dont know what is going on. I havent been happy with the direction they were going in since 06. I think they shouldve made a move in 06, they definitely should’ve made a move in 07 when Rasheed flipped out and got kicked out of that game in Cleveland.

So I dont know what the direction is that (Joe Dumars) is going. I like Ben Gordon but you’ve got Rip and you just resigned Rip and I dont see how that’s gonna work. Who’s gonna play in crunch time? You know Gordon’s playing in crunch time, we saw it against Boston.

EW: Are you pretty surprised with the sucess of the Tigers this season?

RS: Yes, I didnt think from going back to last year that they’d be as good. Who knew Edwin Jackson would be as good as he was? Who knew that the hitting would be the big problem? You tell me that and that they’d still be in first place…

Verlander’s been lights out, they’re pitching pretty well and they’re doing better than I thought but there’s a long way to go. They gotta hit! You can’t keep losing games 2-1.

EW: So from the Tigers to Tiger Woods, how do you feel about him missing the cut in the British Open and do you hope that he still decides to come to this year’s Buick Open?

RS: Oh yeah! Oh my gost, you could have Phil Mickelson, Ernie Ells, and all the guys come to the Buick Open and not bring in Tiger or just bring in you and me with Tiger and it would be bigger than if all 10 of those guys came. There’s a different feeling in the air when he’s here, the crowd is here and you’re seeing arguably the greatest golfer of all time but I think because of the schedule it’s gonna be trouble. So I dont think he’s gonna come and with him not making the cut, who saw that coming? I didnt see that coming at all but it was a great story (laughs).

EW: Two of your stories have been nominated for Emmy’s, why do you think you have been successful with Emmy nominations?

RS: I have no idea, a lof of that is subjective, some people like one thing and other people like another thing. So I just got a bunch of people at that time that liked what I did. Those stories that have been were the ones that I like doing the best. They’re like human interest stories but they’re kind of like heart touching stories.

The ones that were nominated were the ones about Adrian Hunter and his whole story from Central to Grand Blanc. I like doing stories like that whether it’s Marquise Gray, Mateen Cleaves and the old Flintstones, or this kid Adrian Hunter, those are great.

EW: How do you stay creative with so much work on a weekly basis and constantly having to come up with new story ideas?

RS: I’m always thinking of stuff. A lot of my stuff you will hear is pop culture references, whether it’s a movie or something you hear people saying. You just always have to be thinking and thinking outside of the box. I watch Sportscenter and I try to talk like I’m just talking to you when I do my highlights like ‘Hey check this out,’ amd treating it as if no one has seen it before. I try to make people laugh and get people to watch.

EW: What’s the best part of the job?

RS: Going to games and getting to sit in the front row, courtside! Nothing beats that and then you get to have relationships with these athletes. You’re almost like part of it and it actually makes you feel like ‘hey, you did make it’ to the NBA a little.

EW: Who has been your favorite athlete to cover so far?

RS: My favorite local player ever to cover was Roy Williams when he played for the Lions. He got a bad rap but he was pretty misunderstood. After every touchdown that he’d get, he’d find a little kid and had the ball to the kid and every single day outta practice he’d go get a kid and he’d pull them outta the guard rale and that’d be his personal waterboy for the day and he’d sign a jersey and all that. He was always a team, team guy!

EW: What’s the best part of working in your hometown of Flint?

RS: First of all growing up here, you can’t beat working in the city that you grew up in because I actually care. I like when the Pistons won the championship, that was like the greatest thing ever, nothing’s gonna beat that. I care! I wanna see them do good. It’s a privelege because you know Flint’s gonna put out athletes.

I’m in the locker room when the Pistons win the title. In a suit, champaign fight, and I’m standing in the middle of it. I look at it like Charles Barkley (one of the 50 greatest players) and Patrick Ewing (great player), never won a title or been in a locker room when a team has won a title. Ryan Slocum, has been in a locker room of an NBA championship team covering his home team. It’s the greatest thing ever, nothing’s gonna beat that!

Sloc Dog!

Sloc Dog!

In the world of sports, the guys reporting the news are often as overlooked as Tito Jackson for their efforts.

The process of gathering, producing, and presenting the information can be just as challenging as actually performing the event being covered. The Fli City of Michigan known as Flint, can make their claim for having one of the best reporters/anchors to grace their televison screens. For the past seven years (…his anniversary was yesterday), ABC 12’s Ryan Slocum has informed viewers in the area about the latest in sports on a near nightly basis.

Favoring an ESPN/upbeat style in his delivery, Slocum has shined whenever the bright lights have grazed his pupils and tanned his skin. Growing up in Flint and attending Flushing high school may have helped give him this confidence.

If Slocum’s confidence was formed on his home turf, his skills were perfected at Grand Valley State University, where he expanded his studies and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcasting. Before working at the ABC 12 offices, “Sloc Dog” worked in Grand Rapids for WGVU.

Since the beggining of the summer, I have been afforded the opportunity to learn directly from him and pick his brain at every chance possible. Dont worry, it hasnt bothered him though, in fact he is more than helpful.

A few of the things that have stuck with me in this time is that the ability to communicate effectively to decode the news to a clueless audience can be as hard as actually doing the interview. The grind to meet a specific deadline can face just as much pressure as taking the final shot in crunch time. The focus to get accurate and timely news with a solid script can be just as devastating as delivering the knockout blow in a championship bout.

Ryan Slocum has earned my respect (…no respect to Greg Molzon, he has too).

To be as successful as him you have to have swag! Flint is a city as tough as Tyson in his prime and only the strong survive. Not only has he held his own in ABC 12’s studios, he has went into the homes of several athletes (in the hood!) and came out with golden stories.

It doesnt matter if he’s flying to Pittsburgh to cover the Stanley Cup Finals, driving to Auburn Hills to film the Pistons, or driving on Saginaw Street to shoot hoops with kids at Berston, Slocum remains a professional. The slick haired, sports junkie, who listens to hip hop in his spare time should continue to keep the locals excited when they tune in to watch.

The man sometimes rocks the Air Jordan 12.5 when covering stories…what other reporter can do that? He has swag!

Support the Mateen Cleaves Community Outreach Program

Support the Mateen Cleaves Community Outreach Program

The Mateen Cleaves Community Outreach Foundation is a Flint, Michigan-based non-profit organization whose purpose is to encourage others to use their talents, influence and resources to give back to where they come from. Influenced by his mother, a courageous community activist, Cleaves understands that he cant change the world alone but its a social responsibility for everyone to do his or her part.

Check out Mateen Cleaves’ website: http://www.mateencleaves.net/

R.I.P Michael Jackson

June 26, 2009

1958-2009

1958-2009

mj2

Michael Jackson: The King of Pop. The Prince of R&B. The Greatest Entertainer of All-Time. The world lost a true genius!

The seventh child of the Jackson family has been entertaining the world since he was 11 years old with his older brothers (Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon) in The Jackson Five. Known for their hit records “I want you back,” “ABC,” “I’ll be there,” the group trancscended the music not only of their era, but music as a whole.

In 1972, Mike showed the world his ability to shine on his own when he recorded the song Ben which served as the theme song to the movie of the same name. Ben was Michael’s first of thirteen number-one pop hits in the United States and launched a megastar.

The caramel-toned kid with the huge fro and high-pitched voice officially broke away from his brothers and became a man when he collaborated with producer Quincy Jones to create his first solo album. Released on August 10, 1979, Off the Wall, featured a new sound that Jackson was crafting to set America up for the biggest album in the history of popular music. Thriller!

Released on November 30, 1982, with the classic cover of him leaning on his left shoulder sporting the white suit and black shirt unzipped, nine of the 10 songs were released as singles. They ALL reached the top 10 on the Billboard charts. The album also won a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards in 1984 and is currently the best selling record of all time. Since that time, Michael has released “Bad,” “Dangerous,” “HIStory,” and “Invincible,” which has made him one of the biggest artists in music history.

His ability to bring all races together was unmatched. His influence was like no other (…Chris Brown, Usher, Ne-Yo, Lloyd). His relevance in music will never die.

As a kid, I wanted to be Michael (…who didnt?) and I still frequently listen to his music today. From his Christmas carols to his solo joints, Michael has been relevant in my life (…and still is) since I was brought into this earth. My auntie used to bump the Dangerous album, Jackson’s first official project of my time, and recite every word to “Remember the Time.” Working with Michael Jordan on “Jam” was also a huge moment for me because I got to see the behind-the-scenes footage in Jordan’s move “Air Time.” Jordan took the time away from the NBA playoffs to make the video with Jackson!

If I could make a 10 track disc (…in no order) of my favorite Michael Jackson songs they would be:

1. Human Nature

2. Dirty Diana

3.  I Wanna Be Where You Are

4. Baby Be Mine

5. Liberian Girl

6. Ben

7. I Saw mommy Kissing Santa Claus

8. Off the Wall

9. Can You Remember

10. Beat It

*Honorable Mention: Billie Jean, Thriller, Smooth Criminal, Lady In My Life

I was prepared to see his final comeback and it would have been epic! Outside of Tupac’s death, this passing has affected me the most of any celebrity.

So everybody try to moonwalk on the kitchen floor and grab their crotch that one last time in memory of MJ…the greatest musician of all time!!