ST. CATHARINES, Ont. — “One day you’re going to look back on everything you did, and you’re going to say, ‘damn, I really did that.’”
Those were the words of Jacob Smith on his Twitter account (@JaySmithBall) back on May 13th, 2019. Since then, Smith has graduated from Brock University, and his tenure with the women’s basketball program came to an end. July 4th, 2019 marked the end of his two-year run covering and working with the program.
From writing feature articles on both the men’s and women’s basketball teams online for the Badgers athletics department to his work with the coaching staff, Jacob was an integral part of the program. He spent most of his time putting the spotlight on the student-athletes, and his work was noticed and appreciated by the entire Brock community.
After his time covering the student-athletes and putting the spotlight on others, the roles have been reversed. The spotlight is squarely on Jacob as he took time to share his thoughts on his two years of covering Brock basketball.
For Smith, journalism has been apart of his life from an early age. His father, Doug Smith, has covered the Toronto Raptors since their beginning. Through his father’s work, Jacob was able to tag along to different events as he grew up, and he even started writing himself as a result.
“I got into journalism by watching my dad write his blog every morning,” said Smith. “When I was a kid during the summer, I used to start up my own blog and write occasionally with him if I came up with ideas (they weren’t as long or detailed as my dad’s) and through that I gained an interest in writing and blogging sports.”
Doug has become one of the most respected journalists in the Toronto area, and around the NBA for that matter, and his son seems to be following in his footsteps. However, journalism wasn’t always the end goal despite his interest and exposure to the industry at a young age.
“Throughout all of high school up until near the end of grade 12, I actually wanted to be a musician or be in the music industry,” continued Smith. “I went to a Regional Arts high school where I was part of the music program as a saxophone player.”
“But, seeing how hard it was to get into and stay in the industry turned music into more of a hobby to me which I still keep up to this day.”
Fast forward to July 2019, and Smith has wrapped up his undergraduate degree at Brock University. While managing a full course load, Smith found time to work with the women’s basketball team while also finding time to write countless articles for the Badgers website and his own blog.
While the thought of balancing such a work load may be daunting to some, Smith found a way to balance it all and was rewarded for his efforts.
“Covering Brock these past two years has been a phenomenal experience,” continued Smith. “While balancing a full class schedule along with working for the teams has been tough, what I do for Brock Basketball has helped me in many ways, not just my writing and it’s taught me lessons that have helped me in school and life.”
“I’ve made so many friends I’ll hold on to forever.”
If you scroll through the News section of the Badgers’ website, you’ll find a plethora of articles that Smith has done for the department. From game recaps and previews, to student-athlete features and covering the team’s accomplishments throughout the season, Smith has covered the basketball programs inside and out. He’s developed his own style of writing and has started to make a name for himself.
When asked about the best piece of advice he’s ever received, it was a simple answer. It also perfectly summed up his ability to balance his heavy work load throughout the year.
“The best piece of advice I’ve received is that if you want something to be better you have to work harder,” said Smith. “I often spend 10+ hours a day, whenever I’m not in class or doing school work, on basketball or Brock related tasks.”
“Doing the minimum or enough to get to the final product is only going to give you that, the lowest quality product you can get while still finishing the task. Doing more work and keeping the standards high will only allow for the final product to be better and that’s something I’ve always kept in mind.”
Over his two years of volunteering his time to cover the basketball programs at Brock, Smith has spent countless hours putting the spotlight on others. Working with the student-athletes and being able to share their stories has been the most rewarding part of the position for Smith.
“The most rewarding part of volunteering for the Brock teams has been getting to share the stories of all the tremendous athletes,” continued Smith. “I got to know the program and the people involved very well and with my position I was able to share all of their inspiring stories and the Brock Basketball program to the community and students.”
Smith has been able to interact with the players and coaches on a regular basis throughout his two years with the program, and his hard work and dedication to the program and his work hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“Jacob became an integral part of our coaching staff,” said women’s basketball head coach Mike Rao, when asked about Smith’s work and impact on the team. “He sat in on coaches meetings and offered his advice on a number of decisions. He assisted with player personnel, match ups and scouting reports. He was always available for practice and assisted whenever he was needed.”
Rao’s praise of Smith and his hard work didn’t stop there.
“Jacob’s passion is writing stories,” continued Rao. “He wrote compelling pieces from games to personal insights into all our players.”
“The girls really appreciated what he wrote about each and every one of them. He gave them a sense of confidence and self satisfaction.”
Those sentiments were echoed by the players, including guard Melissa Tatti, who also shared her thoughts on what Jacob’s work meant to her and the rest of the women’s basketball team from a player’s perspective.
“Jacob’s coverage has really given the Brock women’s basketball team a platform that has created growth and interest in our team,” said Tatti. “Without his dedication and support we would not have had the success that we did.”
“Seeing him work tirelessly everyday to help our team makes us want to get better and win for him and his efforts.”
Hard work pays off, and Jacob is a true testament to that statement. He has worked tirelessly to make a name for himself in the journalism industry, and his efforts have started to pay off.
With that said, the journey hasn’t come without its share of challenges.
“The biggest challenge for me in sports writing and this field is really trying to set myself apart,” said Smith. “I’ve always tried to work hard to show I’ve earned what I’ve gotten through my work.”
Jacob has worked to make a name for himself through his work and to set himself apart from other aspiring journalists in the industry. He’s been able to overcome the challenges to produce some top-quality work surrounding the basketball program at Brock. Jacob’s hard work and dedication to his craft has been noticed by many in the athletics department, but it’s also been noticed by his mentors.
“We — myself and Jacob’s Mom, Susan Walsh — are extremely proud at how he’s found a passion and an interest and worked his tale off to tell good stories and gain experience and enjoy time away from the usual rigours of school,” said Doug Smith. “We’ve always known he was a great, hard-working kid and we’ve sure seen it through his involvement with the Brock programs and his time with Canada Basketball last summer.”
“He’s found a balance between school and social life that’s obvious, he works hard and tells good stories well and is proof that hard work pays off.”
Doug also took time to thank those who got his son involved with the basketball program and for giving him the freedom to make a name for himself.
“We’ve also been entirely fortunate that he’s had great mentors and supporters at the school,” concluded Smith. “Charles Kissi first got him involved, Mike Rao let him thrive with the women’s program last season, and without their guidance and support, I’m not sure any of this happens.”
“But the overwhelming amount of credit has to go to Jacob.”
“For me the end goal or a dream I’ve always had is working Public Relations or
Communications for a basketball organization,” continued Smith. “I’ve always loved basketball and communications so working in that field for a basketball team like I do now for Brock would be a dream come true for me.”
Over the course of his undergraduate degree, Smith has been able to make a name for himself and take advantage of the opportunities that the school had to offer. Through hard work and perseverance, Smith found a way to balance his passion for basketball and school work to build a resume loaded with experience. All of that has helped him move closer to his dream of working in Public Relations or Communications.
For anyone who wants to follow their passion and work towards a career in journalism, Smith has some words of advice.
“The best advice I would give someone else in the industry is to not make it about
yourself,” concluded Smith. “You have the ability to make a name for yourself through promoting others and you should do exactly that.”
“Don’t put the spotlight on yourself and constantly see what you can do for others and you’ll see results for both the people you are promoting, and yourself.”
As a fellow Brock University alum myself, reading Jacob’s work has been an absolute pleasure. Like Melissa Tatti said, it’s helped to develop an identity for the program and has increased its exposure across not only the OUA, but Canada-wide.
For two seasons, the spotlight has been on the players and the basketball programs at Brock. At least for one article, the attention has shifted to Jacob Smith and the work he’s put in over the last 24 months.
Hard work pays off, and Smith perfectly exemplifies that mantra.
Now that he’s graduated from Brock, he can now look back on his undergraduate degree and the work he’s done and say one thing.
“Damn, I really did that.”
– T. Bennett