Fifty seniors cap eventful, strong year for Curley Center

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Fifty students earned academic certificates from the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism at commencement exercises this weekend for the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, capping a year in which Penn State student journalists captured sports writing awards and covered major national and international events.

The graduating seniors each completed at least two courses offered by the Curley Center as well as a work experience related to sports journalism to earn their certificates.

"We're proud of the class of 2017," said John Affleck, director of the Curley Center and the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society. "As a group, our students have shown great commitment to learning the craft of sports communication, whatever the platform, and I'm looking forward to watching them accomplish great things in the industry."

The Curley Center emphasizes not only in-class work but professional experiences and Affleck noted that, since spring graduation 2016, Penn State students had covered: the U.S. Open at Oakmont (men's golf, for the USA TODAY Sports Network); the U.S. Paralympic trials; the Rio Paralympics (for The Associated Press), and the Rose Bowl, all either in Curley Center-run projects or for student media that was financially supported by the center. 

Among the award winners from the Curley Center in 2017 were:

-- Erin McCarthy, whose analysis of Penn State football recruiting over the past decade, developed in a sports-data reporting class, won first place for sports writing in the 2017 Student Keystone Press Awards, and third in the national Heart Journalism Awards Program. Separately, McCarthy also became the sixth Penn State student to win a scholarship from the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, which is given for an outstanding piece of opinion writing in a national competition.

-- Garrett Ross, who earned honorable mention honors in the Keystone Press Awards and fourth place in the Hearst competition for a story about the challenges faced by single-amputee runners at the Paralympics as technology gives an edge to double-amputee opponents. Ross won the Murray scholarship in 2015.

-- Anna Pitingolo, a 2017 graduate, and Kristen Garrone, from the class of 2016, each won first-place honors in the tough Northeast / Mid-Atlantic region of SPJ Mark of Excellence contest. Pitingolo was honored for best online sports reporting for a feature about wheelchair racing champion Tatyana McFadden, while Garrone's story on white elephant stadiums left behind after the 2004 Olympics in Athens earned the award for best television news reporting.

"From Rio to Pasadena, it was quite a year for the Curley Center's students," Affleck said. "Now it's time to get to work on planning our activities and partnerships for 2017-18." 

Last Updated May 09, 2017