I love sports. I love sports with every fiber of my being. Always have. I’d like to think I always will. I don’t know when I began playing basketball or soccer or baseball (my first three), but my guess is that my first dribble of a basketball or kick of a soccer ball came shortly after my first steps. There has never been a moment in my life that I did not want sports to be the bedrock upon which it was built, and I’m blessed enough for that to continue to be the case.
I still compete, yes, but I spend more time writing about competitions than anything. That’s the inspiration behind the name of this website: Paper Courts. I take what I watch on courts (or fields or pools or pitches or tables or beaches or waters or courses) and I put it on paper. It’s an incredible blessing, to be a sportswriter. Anybody who has watched sports or taken part in them has heard the saying that sports are a vehicle for something more. My job as a writer has been to show the readers why.
That’s my aim, every time I write. That was the purpose behind my first book, The Last 18, and I believe I did a better job of showing it in my second, More Than a Game, which is set to be released this Spring. Sports are more than wins and losses and points and strokes and sets and matches. I realized that a long time ago, and it’s a message I want to spread to everyone who feels compelled to read my pages.
On this site, you will find information about my books and other writings and endeavors in my journalism career. I plan on starting a Podcast, hopefully uploading a new one every week or two. Mostly, I plan on spreading the message of sports, and how they are, as my second book suggests, so much more than a game.
I have become many things in the 26-plus years I have spent on this Earth. I am a son and a brother, a writer and a reader, a high school benchwarmer and a halfway decent golfer, a beach bum and a college graduate, a North Carroll Panther and a Maryland Terrapin. There is one thing, however, that I quite honestly never thought I’d become: An author.
I always wanted to, but it’s hard, you see, writing a book. My first effort at writing a book began in seventh grade. My family was taking our annual vacation to Myrtle Beach, and I began hand-writing one in a spiral notebook. I think I wrote about 200 words before my hand cramped and I got car sick and threw in the towel. But hey, it was a start, right? And, as I’ve come to find out, roughly two zillion times harder than writing a book is publishing one. Books can sometimes be difficult enough to read. Writing them is frustrating, arduous, filled with rejection and oftentimes despair. You question yourself and your ability to put words on paper, or a computer screen. Which makes it, at the end of the day, the most rewarding thing you can do, more rewarding than hitting a hole-in-one (I’ve been fortunate enough to luck into one) or hitting a game-winning shot at the buzzer (fifth grade basketball county championship, never forget). Even when I began to question my writing, I never stopped loving it. I’m not much of an outliner. Most of my thoughts come on a whim, unexpected and unbidden — on a run, reading, drinking coffee, watching my Terrapins blow another lead. And I’ll grab whatever writing utensil I have and just let the words in my brain flow through my hands. Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m about to write until I’m physically doing it. It’s kind of fascinating, because I’m discovering what my book is about as I’m writing it. Maybe this isn’t the most traditional path to literary success, but whatever, it works for me. I’ve always been a fan of homegrown styles.
I was raised that way, anyway, in a sports-mad hamlet in northwest Maryland named Hampstead. The town is so small that, during my sophomore year of college, I had hitched a ride home for winter break with a friend from New Jersey. She typed Hampstead, Maryland into the GPS and nothing popped up. The town was literally too small for a navigation system. My dad, a fine American from Pittsburgh, and my mom, Jill, the most pleasant woman you’ll ever meet, raised my brothers and me on a steady diet of church and sports. Sometimes the latter would interfere with the former, but we’d never let anything get in the way of our sports — golf, soccer, football, basketball, baseball, swim, beach volleyball. You name it, we played it.
I wasn’t good enough at any of them to play at a major college, so I did the next best thing: I wrote about them. I still pinch myself when I cover football games on Friday nights, and I realize that somebody is paying me American dollars to watch sports and write about them. Sportswriters complain about deadlines and low pay and living off of fast food and far too much coffee, but it’s a good life we live. We get paid to do what others pay to do. It’s as simple as that. And writing has taken me places, both literal and metaphorical. It took me to the Florida Panhandle, where I wrote for the Northwest Florida Daily News and covered a number of athletes I now watch on ESPN on Saturdays and Sundays. And it has since taken me to California, where I’m freelancing and taking my first literary shot at non-fiction, in a book on beach volleyball. It’s kind of cool, hanging out with Olympians, you know?
On the pages of this site, you can find updates on the progress of all my books and the occasional piece I might want others to read. It’s a good life we sportswriters live.