Who Will Help Me Start a Bleacher Report Mentoring Program?

Leroy Watson Jr.Senior Writer IJune 27, 2009

My time on Bleacher Report has been an absolute pleasure. I have encountered some of the most remarkable people here, from all over the world.


The first person who really took an interest in me was Jameson Fleming. He was (and in my mind, still remains) the No. 1 ranked college basketball writer.


I arrived on the scene with a chip on my shoulder, a Memphian who was seething over a perceived lack of respect for the accomplishments of the Tiger program. I had some things to get off my chest and B/R was the best venue, I thought, to clarify some misconceptions.


I e-mailed Jameson, and he jumped right in and helped me immensely, editing my first piece and explaining the importance of “flow” in this fast-paced Information Age.


Just like that, my conversion from long-winded Tyrannosaurus to a sleeker, more efficient beast—something akin to a velociraptor, perhaps—began.


My undying gratitude and respect go to Jameson. He could have blown me off, said he didn’t have time, and referred me to a different editor. But he didn’t do that.


Instead, he and Nathan Binter extended their hands as comrades, supporting me on comment threads and giving me a crash course in the etiquette and ethics of being a successful B/R contributor.


Then, there was Daniel Barber, aka Hotnuke, one of the best pure writers I have ever seen. Daniel could tell you a story of grass growing in a remote corner of the Amazon, and it would make you stop what you’re doing to read it.


He’s that good (check his profile and peruse his category of work), and he took great pains to help me master the art of promoting one’s work, and from reading his articles, I learned a lot of things intuitively that helped me improve my own craft yet again.


And then, there was Trey Bradley, one of the most unselfish souls I have ever met.


After my own exhausting coverage of John Calipari’s exodus to Kentucky—four articles here on B/R, as well as five on TigerSportsReport.com, three radio interviews, and a couple sleepless nights, all in less than 48 hours—Trey came to me for a feature article on the situation.


I told him I was shot, didn’t think I could do it. Trey had other ideas.


He came up with this brilliant plan: he would “interview” me, by posting an article on his profile with a question. Once he gave me the link, I would edit the article with my reply.


He, in turn, would edit the article with another question. We continued this way until the article was complete.


He wrenched a pretty good effort out of a mentally spent writer, and whether he knew it or not, he single-handedly assured me that I would remain active on Bleacher, because without him, I might have packed it in for the summer.


Well Trey, if you didn’t know it then, you know it now, my friend.


In short, I'm standing on the backs of some very talented, but more importantly, self-sacrificing individuals, as I continue to make my way through this marvelous site. As a Senior Writer now, I feel a heightened sense of obligation to the Bleacher Creatures.


So now, I would like to pass along a few pointers to those who are struggling to make their way, just like I was. Some of you are insanely gifted, and I hope to be of assistance.


And I will finish up with a request of the Senior Writers, several of whom I have requested to read this.


To the newer writers, I would like to say a word about promoting your articles.


Now, this continues to be a hot-button topic throughout the community, and it probably will forever remain one. However, just take some time to follow this link to an article by Gray Ghost, and you will have the best guidelines I can possibly think of.


I knew that GG had written on this topic before, but I had never actually read the post until earlier today.


I’m glad that I did.


To condense the article down, it is important to socialize with other members of the community, by reading and commenting on their work. This way, other people get to know you, and in due time—sometimes sooner rather than later—they will want to read your work.


When someone becomes so enamored with your work that they become your fan, it’s only natural to want to inform them when you write a new article, because it feels great to know that someone really likes your work! Why would you not send up a flare when the inspirational muse has tickled your keyboard?


So, informing friends and fans of a new article is appropriate and natural. It is also, of course, only right to respond when these same persons post to your board; it’s a two-way street.


Spamming large blocks of people whom you do not know—who may or may not share the same interests as you—is inappropriate.



Would you drive two hours from your home, find a party, walk in, glad-hand everyone, take a beer, and generally act as if you belong there?


If you answered yes, I hope you live three hours from me!


However, this is where the Senior Writers come in. We can do much to help ease the transition for the youngsters and newbies who inhabit the site.


I think back to Daniel Barber. He went out of his way to post my articles on his fans’ boards. He e-mailed people. He promoted my work just as vigorously as he did his own!


So, to my fellow Senior Writers: do you know of a talented writer on here who is struggling to get reads and comments? Never seems to make it to the Front Page of the site, even though their work is stellar?


Well, why not give them a nudge?


Abhimanyu Vinay Rajput, whom most of us know as AVR, has bought into the “Pass it on” movement, proposed by Jamie Ward. Especially as Senior Writers, we should do this. It lends instant credibility to a writer who might not be well-known, but is worthy of being read.


Just pass it along to one person; you might start a torrent of reads...


Shockingly, I've heard far too many youngsters and newbies levy bitter complaints against the Senior Writers that had nothing to do with the rankings!


Being blown off; berated for posting where they were not invited; talked down to or made to feel inferior; or flat-out refusal to reply at all to a question or request.


Ladies and gentlemen, that’s just wrong. Listen to the words of George Benson, in the song “The Greatest Love of All”:


“I believe the children are our future

Teach them well, and let them lead the way

Show them all the beauty they possess inside

Give them a sense of pride, to make it easier

Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be”


George “gets it.”


Has anyone else noticed how many insanely talented young writers we have on this site? We have a 13-year old Senior Writer now, Josh Dhani, to go along with the 16-year old Senior Writer Isaac Barrow.


We have Graham Brunell, who I am going to kidnap and verify from his Birth Certificate that he is actually 13.


(G. B. knows I’m joking about that...or am I?)


Jake Livinston is 13. Wyatt Beltz is days away from being 14. Eric Annett, Nick Barnowski, Matt Miselis, and D.J. Rallo are 15. Jared Farver, Sulayman Hussein, and Taylor Rummel are 16. Those are some of my favorites, off the top of my head.


They form the heart of the “Kiddie Korps,” or the “Junior Cavalry,” as I like to call them. They are our future!


One of them might be the next Peter King, Tim Kurkjian, Ken Rosenthal, or Grant Wahl. But not if we don’t help them.


Saraswathi Sirigina recently had this quote up on her profile page: “Leadership is all about responsibility.”


Think about that—deeply—for a minute.


When the powers-that-be decided to endow each and every one of us with “Senior Writer” status, they made us responsible for many things:


                        The continued high quality of our own work;

                        The attracting of new members to the site;

                        Having lively yet respectful conversations/debates;

                        The mentoring of newcomers.


In no particular order (thus, no numbers attached).


I have already begun to devote more time to the mentoring of new and younger writers than I do to writing my own material. In fact, Karthika M. and Blaine Spence, two of my dearest friends on Bleacher, badger me weekly for new material.


They stop by my profile and a few minutes later, I get a PM, wondering if I’m still alive and planning to write something new?


Well, you two, I did write something new, but I would really rather tell you about this piece by a kid I’ve really taken a shine to...