Sunday, June 10, 2012

Learning a lesson in how connected we all are

Seven days later, it all still seems surreal.

If you're reading this, you're probably well aware of what happened the last time we met in this space, a blog entry about a nice moment at the conclusion of the Division III girls 3,200-meter run at last weekend's state track and field meet - and a great video of said moment captured by my colleague Theresa Audia - apparently played a role in the moment moving along to become a national headline.

It's been amazing to watch the deserved praise and attention given to the two athletes involved - West Liberty Salem's Meghan Vogel and Arlington's Arden McMath - and all the credit is rightfully where it belongs with them.

Before we close this chapter, I need to share with you the back story of watching this story take off from behind the scenes, because it served as a fascinating reminder of how connected we all are.

The D-III 3,200 was of interest initially News-Herald area-wise because of our local contingent in the race, Hawken's Ally Markovich and Gilmour's Halle Markel. Markovich won her first career state title with a wonderfully executed race strategy, and Markel was a solid fifth. While tweeting the exploits of our area athletes, I looked up and it happened. The crowd rose at once, with an ovation unlike any I've ever heard at state track, as Vogel helped McMath finish and Audia very smartly chronicled the sequence on video.

Similar to many media outlets across Ohio, we mentioned what had happened in our coverage. Obviously with it being two athletes who reside probably four hours from where we are on the east side of Cleveland, it was noteworthy but not a primary element Sunday in our newspaper or online.

On that Sunday, I blogged about it for two simplistic reasons. It seemed like a nice moment worth sharing with our local audience, even though that moment didn't involve area athletes, and just as importantly, Audia's video deserved another platform to be spotlighted. Words are all well and good, but the video says much more than a few paragraphs ever could. It's also worth noting it seemed vital to see if there were comments on the incident from either Vogel or McMath to their local media. When I searched for them on Google News that Sunday afternoon while writing the blog, only one entry came up because Vogel had spoken to the Springfield News-Sun.

Unbeknownst to Audia and I, on Monday morning Mary LaRocco, the wife of VASJ coach Dan LaRocco, thought enough of the blog/video to send a link of it to Drudge Report.

Surreal is the best word to describe what happened from there, between the number of views of the video (last word was more than half a million), the views of the blog (more than 150,000) and those who linked to or tweeted it (ESPN, CBS News, Fox News, Headline News and Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch among many others). Let's just say we're not used to that kind of traffic.

Some of the comments and reaction to the story nationally were also surreal - I respectfully agree to disagree with where some of it went.

Nevertheless, what matters is Vogel and McMath got national attention for their shared moment. They did the morning TV circuit, both locally and nationally, and the story ended up being retold on the front page of and replayed on shows such as "Inside Edition", again among many others.

Initially, all it seemed like was a great moment between two non-News-Herald area athletes at the state track and field meet that our local audience should hear, and this blog seemed to be the logical place to retell that story.

By the time it was done, the story had resonated to be so much more than that, showing how interlinked we can be regardless of the miles that may separate us physically.

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH


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