PARMA, Ohio — As much as the player-coach dynamic is well known in sports, one new frontier is that of the player-sportswriter. That’s exactly the role that Valley Forge High School sophomore Summer Patsko finds herself in this basketball season.
“I started doing this because I wanted to get more recognition for the sports teams, especially the girls teams,” said Parma resident Summer, 15. “I didn’t feel like a lot was out there about them, so I made the Twitter accounts. During my soccer season, I wrote the team preview.
“Then, my basketball coach saw it and asked if I wanted to write about the basketball games when we start the season, so it just went from there.”
Valley Forge High School varsity girls basketball coach Brittney Matuschek said she was all for Summer writing the Patriots game summaries.
“In the past, no one has really covered our games,” Matuschek said. “She saw it as an opportunity for not only herself, but our team. She has a big interest in sports writing, and also felt the girls on the team deserved recognition for all their hard work. Summer has carved her own way to make a name for herself.”
The coach noted that she’s not surprised by Summer’s passion and talents, which are buoyed by her work ethic and determination.
“Summer’s done amazing thus far, not only covering the games and writing articles, but also running the team’s Twitter account,” Matuschek said. “She devotes so much time to re-watching games, gathering stats, doing interviews and writing the articles — all while maintaining straight A’s through the season and playing club soccer.”
One could say sports writing is in her blood. Summer’s dad, Scott, currently covers the Cleveland Browns for cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer.
“While she’s been in honors English classes the last couple of years, I was kind of surprised at first that she was really willing to do the game stories, because she knew they posted those on the website,” Scott Patsko said.
“I told her that means she’s going to have to interview her own coach and teammates, which she’s done. It’s been kind of fun to watch. I also told her next year maybe she can take the next step and talk to the other coach. That will be super weird.”
What’s super weird to Scott is how his daughter often writes her game summaries.
“She doesn’t do it on a computer; she does it on her phone on the bus after the game using her thumbs,” Scott said. “It’s kind of crazy, but it just works for her. It’s really fun to see her do that.”
While only in 10th grade, Summer said her current career path is sports writing. She’s already ahead of her Avon native dad, who got his start as a freelance sports writer out of high school.
“If she keeps doing this over the next couple of years, she’ll be way advanced compared to other people taking their first steps as a sportswriter,” Scott said. “My advice to her is read other people who are doing what you want to do and then steal all of their ideas.
“That’s how you get going in this business. Then you kind of figure out what works for you and what you like to do, but reading is a big thing.”
The aspiring sportswriter does receive editing tips from her dad, who also takes game notes for her to write about later. Considering that Summer’s game minutes have increased of late, she now finds herself in the odd position of writing about her own on-court play.
“This is the first week this really came up,” Scott said. “If she does it for soccer, it’s going to probably come up a lot more, because she plays a bigger role on that team.
“It was a weird scenario, but probably won’t be the last time she’ll have to do that. It’s something most sportswriters don’t have to worry about,” he said.
Looking ahead, Summer said she plans on writing game summaries for girls soccer next year, with the potential of adding boys coverage into the mix.
“This is a lot of fun,” she said. “I’m really surprised where this has taken me already and the positive feedback I’m getting from people. I’ve had so many teachers and coaches tell me they’ve seen what I’m doing and how cool it is.”
The one area that’s truly surreal for Summer is that now she finds herself on the court in the middle of play when the notion of writing about it pops into her head as it’s happening live.
“That happens all of the time,” she laughed. “It’s so weird.”
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