I talked to Kelli Stacy about a piece she wrote on an OU football player named Jordan Thomas. I’ve known Kelli for a while and knew the high quality of her work. However, she writes about sports, something I have never been very interested in.
The thing that struck me about this piece is that when I read this, I actually cared about football.
The way that the piece is written, the football doesn’t really matter. Yes it is about football, but more importantly, it is about a young man who strives for perfection. That’s a theme that everyone can relate to.
One of the main aspects of the story that I found compelling was the thought process and detail behind each of Jordan’s moves. When I spoke with Kelli about her process of reporting it was evident that she had a presence of mind throughout the reporting process.
Kelli said that the reason she decided to pursue the story was because she knew he was struggling with football. When she asked Jordan he said that the negative feedback didn’t affect him.
She thought that was interesting since it usually affects players mentally. She decided to ask his parents about where he got that confidence from and was able to talk to his dad.
His dad told her about his high school days and about a moment when he was a freshman on varsity and he was about be demoted to the freshman team after not playing well. He was given a make it or break it moment.
Jordan was 14 at that time and Kelli knew that it was something that she needed to look into, connecting it again to the idea of inner confidence. She talked to his high school coach and after spoke with Jordan again, asking him specifics this time.
Throughout this process, She picked up on little things that wouldn’t be evident unless you were thinking of how to paint the picture of a confident perfectionist.
She dived into moments when interviewing where he let his guard down. For example, he began talking about his screen saver. She pushed into that and it became the lede of her story.
With the small details she kept thinking, what is something no one else would have.
She found videos of his plays and made sure to ask about those moments and his feelings about them. She decided to consolidate those feelings by writing them in her own voice helping it make sense to readers.
One of the most impressive things about this story is that Kelli wrote it in 2 ½ days. It shows that intentional reporting is extremely important in feature writing.