Student of the game: Hodkiewicz writes way through college

Weston Hodkiewicz featureUW-Green Bay senior Weston Hodkiewicz was just looking for a few bucks to help pay the bills as he went about his college career.

However, a love of sports statistics has morphed into a part-time job as a prep sports reporter for the Green Bay Press-Gazette. And to his surprise, notoriety comes with the territory. Hodkiewicz finds himself being recognized by area athletes, coaches and sports fans.

“In August of ’06 the Press-Gazette was looking for someone who could take sports scores,” said Hodkiewicz, a Bay Port graduate who is majoring in communication, with an emphasis in journalism, public relations and organizational communication (he’s hoping to add a minor in corporate communication). “One thing led to another and they assigned me some stories to write. In August I wrote my first NFL story on Buffalo Bills’ safety Jairus Byrd.”

As a preps sports writer and sports assistant, Hodkiewicz may find himself covering hockey on Tuesday, wrestling on Wednesday, and basketball previews by the weekend. It can make for some long days and unwieldy hours and certainly can pose a challenge to keep up with academic studies.

“I’ve been fortunate to have some great and understanding group mates (in class),” Hodkiewicz said. “A fan goes to a game or watches a game and then goes about their business. As a sports writer you’ve got to do the postgame interviews, then write the story.”

Those interviews aren’t always conducted in the most pleasant of moments. It’s one thing to talk to a jubilant athlete or coach after a victory. It’s yet another to speak to that same person in the disappointment of defeat.

“It’s really helped me in my ability to work with people,” Hodkiewicz said. “You learn how to make people comfortable, even when the circumstances aren’t easy. I think that will be helpful when I get into the ‘real’ world.”

And now that he has a few years of experience, so comes some notoriety. “Hodkiewicz” is becoming something of a household name, in some parts.

When he attends a prep sports event it’s not unusual for a coach or player or fan to come up and want to discuss a subject with him. Sometimes they want to congratulate him, and sometimes they want to take issue with something he’s written. Either way it’s a reminder that what’s he’s doing has real impact.

“A lot of times it doesn’t even hit me until my parents bring it up. They both work at Georgia-Pacific with some real rabid hockey fans who will talk to them about an article I wrote about the Green Bay Gamblers,” he said referring to the popular and successful junior hockey program. “And that’s when it hits me that something I’ve written is sitting on someone’s coffee table. That’s pretty neat.”

— Photo by Matt Becker, freelance photographer

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