By Jackson DeMos
The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation announced that USC Annenberg student Daniel Savitzky (B.A. Print and Digital Journalism, '13) won one of its four 2012 national sportswriting scholarships.
"It is so satisfying to honor Jim's memory and legacy by supporting the next generation of sports journalists," Linda McCoy-Murray said in a press release. "Our recipients this year represent the finest young students pursuing this great profession, and we are pleased to help them achieve their goals and dreams."
Savitzky, born in New York and raised in New Jersey, would like to follow in Jim Murray's footsteps and become a sportswriter.
"To be associated with Jim Murray in any positive way is a huge honor," said Savitzky, who is also working on a minor in Sports Media Studies at USC Annenberg. "He was one of the most famous sportswriters in American history. He was such a powerful voice and his stories were so moving.”
Savitzky has taken numerous sports-related classes at USC Annenberg while writing for national publications outside of school, including Grantland.com, ESPN's NetsAreScorching.com, and Clippers.com. He hopes to one day work full time for ESPN and cover the National Basketball Association or write columns.
He said he hopes the networking opportunities that will become available through being a Murray Scholar will help him achieve his career goals.
He is already familiar with the positive dividends networking can play. After Savitzky heard a guest talk about his writing abilities on Bill Simmons' radio show, Savitzky introduced himself to Simmons at half time of a Clippers game. Simmons then offered him an internship at a website he was launching, Grantland.com, which has turned into one of the most popular new sports websites in the country.
"It can't hurt to be charismatic and approach people," he said. "What's the worst that can happen, they tell you to go away? I was a little nervous, but obviously I'm very glad I talked to him. It would have been a huge loss if I didn't."
As part of Savitzky's application, he interviewed one of the most die-hard college baseball fans in the country who has also been blind since birth. He asked to acknowledge the subject of his article, Eric Calhoun, for his inspirational story. Calhoun takes public transportation from Crenshaw, Calif. to attend almost every USC game despite struggling financially.
"These poor conditions have had no effect on one of the kindest young men you will find in the city of Los Angeles, and he always brings an upbeat attitude and beaming smile to USC baseball games," Savitzky wrote. "They're often lightly attended, but that doesn't stop Eric from confidently breaking the silence with a cheer. 'Go back to sleep, Utah,' he yelled at a mid-March game against the Utes. His 'Here we go, Trojans' chants always get a number of supportive claps from appreciative fans, but he is so much more than a cheerleader."
Savitzky wrote the article in a similar style to what Murray (pictured, right) used during his Hall of Fame career that included 14 Sportswriter of the Year awards from the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, including 12 consecutive.
The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation was established in 1999 by Linda McCoy-Murray to perpetuate the legacy of Los Angeles Times Pulitzer Prize-winning sports columnist through a national essay competition for college journalism students. The Foundation has now awarded 82 $5,000 scholarships.
Including the Class of 2012, the Foundation has awarded a total of $410,000 to 82 students nationwide. Among those scholarship recipients are six USC students or alumni, including Alex Herbach (2008 winner), Dallas Woodburn (2007), Ben Malcolmson (2004), Arash Markazi (2002) and Ryan Pearson (2000). Markazi, a sportswriter for ESPN, serves on the Foundation's Board of Directors.