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Communication junior Thomas Olsen writes several sports stories a year for The Statesman, UMD’s student newspaper. He recently picked up a second writing job: part time contributor to the New York Times “Slap Shot Blog”, an online "depository of all things hockey" that boasts of covering "anything that glides quickly across a frozen surface anywhere on the globe . . ."
Olsen was already an experienced sports writer when the "Slap Shot Blog" approached him, having covered the men’s hockey team for The Statesman since last fall. Most of his pieces covered good news, including several recent weeks as the Bulldogs were ranked number one in the division.
In early January 2012, as he was preparing to return to UMD, Olsen received an e-mail from the New York Times offering him a slot on their blog to occasionally write about UMD hockey.
“I reread the email twice,” Olsen said. “I had to make sure that it was real at first. I hadn’t sought them out; I never thought that I would write for the Times, especially while I was still in college.” He has been given freedom about when and what he writes. “They said to send in a story whenever something interesting comes up, so I’ve been trying to get one in every few weeks."
When questioned about the distinction between writing for the blog and The Statesman, Olsen noted a few key differences. “Stories for blogs are usually a lot shorter, under 600 words. When people read about games on the blog, they seem to want more information about the big picture, and less about getting a play-by-play.” Olsen’s first story was posted to the blog on January 18, and a second, A Bruising Weekend for Minnesota Duluth, went up on February 1.
Olsen stayed neutral when questioned about the odds of a second championship season for the men’s hockey team. “As a journalist, I don’t want to be biased,” he said, “But the (men’s hockey) team was in a similar situation last year during their championship drive. They’ve had a few rough games lately, but this season they had a record-setting 17-game unbeaten streak, and still maintain an impressive four-score-a-game average.” Nothing can be ruled out yet, although the Bulldogs do have a long way to go.
Anything could happen for the Bulldogs, and Olsen as well. “Writing for the Times will look great on my resume,” he said. “Considering how difficult it is to find employment, especially in journalism, this could be a great boost to my career after college.” Olsen is set to graduate next fall.
Written by Zach Lunderberg. February 2012
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