A ninth period Creative Writing class came to life at Huntington High School when longtime Newsday high school sports editor Gregg Sarra visited with students via the Zoom online platform.
Mr. Sarra’s appearance was virtual in nature due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has restricted classroom visitors this year. He discussed his work with the newspaper over the past 36 years and then engaged in a lively question and answer session with the teenagers and their teacher, Kelly Quintero.
A graduate of Newfield High School, Mr. Sarra obtained an undergraduate degree at Dowling College where he was the school newspaper’s sports editor and where he played on the baseball team. He has also served at MSG Varsity’s Long Island executive producer.
“The class enjoyed hearing about Mr. Sarra’s life as a professional writer covering sports and human interest stories on Long Island,” Ms. Quintero said.
The Creative Writing class students provided interesting feedback and opinions following Mr. Sarra’s visit, including the following snippets:
• “I learned how important it is to keep your options open. I know, especially with athletes, that everyone says it’s super important to have a backup career. Despite [Mr.] Sarra’s sports injury, he managed to find an even more reliable job that he’s had for decades. I don’t think I’d ever consider sports journalism as a career, but it's great how much he enjoys it. It seems fun that he gets to meet all the athletes he’s interviewing, especially the more prominent/well-known ones. Even though I’m not a huge sports person, I found [Mr.] Sarra’s stories and anecdotes interesting, especially about the basketball player with no legs. I’m glad he was able to befriend her after her interview.”
• “I learned how sports journalists have to use specific words for different kinds of game outcomes, like not saying that someone ‘bombed it’ and ‘ruined’ the game. Like the example he gave about if a journalist is approaching someone who completely lost it for their team and how that journalist should approach them.”
• “I thought everything was so interesting, but it did seem super stressful. I learned that they have to make sure to get the article in at a specific time and make sure that they have enough to say about the sport and the team that they are talking about. It’s interesting that you do research in real jobs, not just in school.”
• “Honestly, as someone with no interest in sports, it was cool to see the amount of information they use to put together into a successful article. I thought that the story he wrote about the disabled basketball player was really cool. I didn’t know much about sports journalism before, but it’s a good example of the different divisions under the category of writing.”
• “What I learned is that there is a high degree of emotional maturity and intelligence [required] to be a reporter given the things a reporter needs to discuss with people for the sake of getting information for written articles and news station segments.”
• “After speaking with Gregg Sarra, I learned a lot about being a journalist (or a writer in general). I learned from Mr. Sarra that with tight deadlines, you have to carefully plan everything out. You must know when something is due and plan out how you’re going to put everything together beforehand. I learned that with writing stories about sports, you have to be even more detailed and very descriptive. I like how he doesn’t let things such as deadlines bother him; he just does what he does and includes the most information he can. He can definitely write a book on inspiring those who want to follow the path that he follows.”
• “The best story he told was the guy that wouldn’t mind if kids made fun of him during an interview. [Mr.] Sarra noticed that that guy was worth hiring because he was honest. I also liked the story about how he wrote to the reporter when he was younger about how good his teammates were and it kind of forced the reporter to write the story that should have been written.”
• “He answered all the questions we had. I didn’t think a writer would like to talk to us like that. He liked talking to us. We were the interviewers.”