I often encourage my student journalists not to feel fearful or intimidated when selling advertisements or speaking to adults for articles. However, it remains challenging for many of these young people to assert themselves. A small minority do have a natural “go after it” attitude. One such person is Melody Shahsavarani.
A senior at Hoover High, I have known Melody for three years, first as an honors English student and now as a budding journalist working for the school newspaper, the Tornado Times. She always has a smile on her face that attracts the listener to whatever topic she is discussing.
During winter break, Melody emailed the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team to see if she could cover one of their games as a sports journalist. After not receiving a reply back, she remembered how welcoming new Clipper owner and Microsoft billionaire Steve Ballmer was to the fans so she contacted him directly.
Within a couple of days, she was sitting in the back seat of her friend’s car when she noticed an email on her cell phone with the words “high school” in the message line.
“I thought it was an ASB thing,” Melody said since she is a member of the Associated Student Body serving as Senior Class President.
When she opened up the correspondence, she could not believe the opening words “Steve forwarded me your email.”
“I died right there,” Melody said with an excitable cadence.
President of Business Operations Gillian Zucker responded on behalf of Ballmer and was impressed with her spunk and tenacity so much that Melody was indeed invited to cover the Clipper game last week against the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center. She would be afforded all privileges of the working press, from the media parking lot to attendance at press conferences as well watching the game from the official press box.
Like a dream, Melody found herself sitting in front of head coach Doc Rivers at the pre-game conference and Chris Paul and her idol Blake Griffin at the post-game conference. While she was unable to ask a question due to a prior selection protocol, she still found the event fascinating.
“I couldn’t believe how tall Michael Smith was,” Melody said of the 6’10” Clipper radio and TV color commentator who does the Clipper games alongside legendary play-by-play announcer Ralph Lawler. “I stood right at his waist.”
She describes the experience as the biggest thrill of her life, with a clearer understanding of “the adrenaline rush of what it’s like to be a sports journalist.”
What these students may not realize is how much more excited I am for their accomplishments. Few things bring more pleasure to teachers than when students have breakthrough moments.
Hopefully Melody will continue pursuing other endeavors with the same zeal as she did with covering the Clipper game. Her only regret was not being able to take a photo of herself with Griffin.
“They told me that as a reporter I had to be neutral,” Melody said even though she wore her Clipper sweatshirt to the game.
“Honestly, I almost died when Blake Griffin looked at me courtside when he was practicing before the game.” In fact, she requested that I change her last name to Shahsavarani-Griffin, but that would be inaccurate (at least as of press time).