Sports Press Conference Briefs written in Julia Satterthwaite’s Opinion Coverage class:
Name: Carl Schimmel
On Monday, August 2, Kevin Jackson and Drew Palmisano gave a press conference for a bunch of eager, young journalists at the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association (MIPA) summer workshop.
The two are an unlikely pair of colligate stars. Jackson was a life-long basketball player from middle class Detroit, and Palmisano almost had to quit playing hockey when diagnosed with ITP his senior year of high school. Both talked about the great academic support system for student athletes at the MSU Smith Center.
Jackson only recently switched from basketball to track. He started track and field during the second semester of his senior year as a way to, “stay in shape” during the basketball off-season. Turns out, he was a natural. After being recruited by colleges with scholarship money, Jackson decided to switch from college basketball to track. After years of training he is still quite “sloppy,” but is working on breaking the 7 foot barrier. His current personal best is 6’ 10 ½”.
Palmisano has had his share of obstacles, as well. In high school he was diagnosed with a rare blood condition and told he would have to take a long break from hockey while he got better. But Drew worked hard and got back on the ice as soon as he was able. He is planning on going on to play professionally in spite of his life-long condition.
Drew is happy the way things are going, he calls playing for MSU a “dream come true,” and even if he could he “wouldn’t go back and change a thing.”
Name: Jasmine Thompson
One of Michigan State University’s biggest track stars, Kevin Jackson, came and talked to several journalism students at a press conference in Holden Hall Monday night.
Running track wasn’t always Jackson’s first choice.
“I was playing basketball, but I ran track during the off season for conditioning,” Jackson said.
Apparently, his natural knack for the high jump drew the attention of several colleges, including MSU.
“It was an instant success,” Jackson said. “I had never lifted weights, so it was a shock to the body. But I started to drop off, because I was eating and gaining weight.”
Jackson is a successful high jumper, with his highest jump at 6’ 10 ½”. Jackson said he wouldn’t be as successful as he is today without the support of his family and friends.
“I hung around people who had the same interest that I did,” Jackson said.
Jackson gave some advice to high school athletes who wish to compete in college.
“Find the best school that fits you,” he said, “and find a mentor to help you.”
Name: Garrett Miniard
Ithaca High School
Hundreds of high school journalism students had the honor in attending a press conference with MSU track and field athlete Kevin Jackson. This honor came on the night of August 2, in Holden Hall. Jackson answered many questions about how it feels to be a student athlete and how he became one.
“I had plenty of colleges lined up for me,” Jackson stated. “But when MSU asked me to come to them, it wasn’t much of a question. It was a huge upgrade.”
Jackson had never run track for any reason other than to stay in shape for basketball. He loved basketball; track was just something to do.
“It was easy at first,” Jackson said. “But it got harder when I actually got here to MSU because I still didn’t know very much about track and field. I also had never lifted weights before, so that was a whole new thing.”
Jackson has had to face a lot of adversity in his days. Besides his torn home life with his parents being divorced, there are many others things. Jackson got injured during his sophomore year as a Spartan, which meant he had to sit out as a red shirt for the season.
“I’ve never been hurt,” Jackson said. “So being hurt really took me mentally, it kind of took me out of the loop a little bit, when your hurt it kind of feels like you aren’t a part of the team.”
Jackson does little routines before each of his high jumps. However, they are not the same every time, and sometimes he misplaces his lucky socks.
“I listen to the crowd to see if the person before me has a good jump,” Jackson said. “I start twiddling my fingers around and my hands start shaking. I imagine my run up to the bar and think about my technique and imagine going over the bar smoothly.”
In the end, Jackson is just an ordinary human being like everyone else. He gets nervous, and feels all the emotions that anyone else does. He likes to have fun with his friends and enjoys life. He also has a true gift for jumping that not many other people in the world have.
“I like to joke around with my friends and have fun,” Jackson said snickering. “I do this and it helps to take the seriousness out of everything, because your sport is like a job, its stressful. And your coaches expect a lot out of you.”
Name: Kyle Seasly
On August 2, Michigan State University hockey goalie Drew Palmisano sat down with journalism students to discuss his experience as a student athlete.
Palmisano started playing hockey at age three, in order to accompany his big brother, who also played. He soon fell in love with the sport.
In high school, Palmisano missed dances, parties and even friends for the sport he enjoyed more than anything.
But, Palmisano said, “There’s a reason I sacrificed that, hockey is my number one love.”
Tragically, later in high school, Palmisano was diagnosed with ITP, a blood disorder that doctors said would never allow him to play a contact sport again. It was always “the plan” for Palmisano to play in college, and the impact dealt a blow to his dreams in the rink. Puck that.
“Being told I couldn’t play hockey was the biggest letdown of my life,” Palmisano said.
However, Palmisano gained another chance at hockey when he found the right combination of pills. His junior national hockey league, located in Omaha, went on to win a national championship.
After that, he went on to play at Michigan State University, which he says is “one of the best programs in the country.”
Looking towards the future, Palmisano hopes to play professionally after college and offers two words to students everywhere, “Keep persevering.”
Name: Maason Kao
Two college students, Drew Palmisano and Kevin Jackson, came to Holden Hall to share their experience of playing Hockey and running track, respectively. The two athletes didn’t seem to have much in common when asked about what they would’ve done differently in high school.
“Not to slack off as much as I did,” Palmisano replied. “I would take an hour extra for lunch, or skip class. I realize it wasn’t the best idea.”
Track star Jackson differed in opinion.
“I wish I played football in high school,” he said. “I played a couple times.”
They also didn’t quite agree when asked about their future plans.
“I’m going to play some level of pro-hockey,” said Palmisano. “There are about 30 spots open and hundreds of goalies. There are also some leagues in Europe that are as good as the second and third tier in the USA.”
Again, Jackson had different plans.
“I might go to grad school or law school,” Jackson said.
After a couple of questions, though, the two began to show the similar traits.
“Just keep persevering,” Palmisano said about his life mantra.
Jackson had similar advice about pursuing one’s dream.
“It isn’t always being the biggest or strongest,” Jackson said. “It’s knowing what you want and finding how to get there.”
Drew Palmisano, a junior at Michigan State and a long-time hockey player met with young journalists from across the Midwest to answer a myriad of questions about his life and his sport. Also interviewed was another MSU junior, the tall, long-legged, high jumper, Kevin Jackson.
The athletes at first appeared to be polar opposites.
“I started playing hockey when I was 3-years-old,” said Palmisano.
Jackson, who only joined the track team during his senior year to keep in shape for basketball, had been a long time basketball player who decommitted from a basketball scholarship to take a track scholarship. Despite his sudden change Jackson said he had “instant success, and the rest is history.”
The boys also differ in other areas, such as their financial backgrounds. While Jackson grew up in an upper-middle class home, it was scholarship money that ultimately influenced Palmisano’s college decision.
“I didn’t have a lot of money to pay for college,” Jackson said. “Three hours before I had to decide, one of the coaches here at Michigan State called me up and offered me a scholarship.”
The goalie and high jumper also have quite different views in another area that came up frequently while they were being interviewed.
“Left skate first, then right skate,” Palmisano said of his superstitions.
Jackson’s superstitions are much less serious.
“I had this pair of socks I wear,” Jackson said. “For some reason I can’t find them.”
When asked about injuries, Palmisano replied that he hadn’t been injured “too much.” He quickly followed the statement with a sharp knock on the wooden table. While he may have escaped serious external injuries, Palmisano is still dealing with an internal condition that could have taken him out of hockey permanently.
Palmisano’s condition, Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), causes his body to not produce enough platelets. It is something he will have to deal with for the rest of his life.
“I couldn’t do anything,” he said of the first few months with ITP. “I couldn’t even play badminton.”
Though the athletes have faced different challenges both in their lives and their sport, at the end of the interview they explained the most important thing for all college athletes: teamwork.
“Everyone together makes the impact, not just you,” said Jackson. Palmisano nodded in agreement.
Name: Nicole Onderchanin
On Monday, August 2, Michigan State University athletes Drew Palmisano and Kevin Jackson visited MIPA students for a press conference. They met at Holden Hall to discuss their past, present and future sports careers.
Both athletes felt surprised and lucky to have wound up at MSU. Jackson, a high jumper for the track team, began track his senior year of high school to stay in shape for basketball. The Detroit native fell in love with the sport after his instant success.
“I’m not really good with the system, though,” Jackson said, chuckling. “It’s hard to control your body.”
While Jackson kept laughing and saying over and over again how sloppy his game was, his on record highest jump is an impressive 6’10.5”.
On the other hand, Palmisano, a hockey goalie, felt his performance has always been good. Having begun the sport at the age of three, he was rather excited to make his school of choice, even though he grew up in Ann Arbor.
“People always called me a traitor for going to State,” Palmisano said. “But I was committed on the spot [for MSU].”
Both athletes stressed how school is vital to their success and how they all work together. During the school year, they spend a lot of time tutoring each other at Smith, the student athlete academic center, spending at least two hours there a night.
“Smith helps keep us on page for graduation,” said Jackson.
Palmisano agreed, but added, “You can’t bring hockey and school home. You have to have your own time.”
Spending time together as a team outside of practice, whether it is studying or hanging out, is important for the athletes. However, it is even more important for them to work together on the rink or track. The ability to do certain thing is not enough for them.
“I’m not a superstar athlete,” said Palmisano. “I’m just a piece of the puzzle.”
Name: Tyler Scott
Ithaca High School
MSU junior Kevin Jackson answered the questions of hundreds of journalism students who were wondering about the experience that is participating in a division one athletic program.
Jackson, who high jumps for the for the MSU track team, said he enjoyed almost instant success in his track career.
“It’s actually kind of funny how it all happened,” said Jackson. “I joined track my senior year in the spring just to stay in shape, and than I made an all-Michigan team and an all-American team, so I decommited from basketball to play track.”
That’s not to say it was all easy for the inexperienced high- jumper, who had to battle through injury last season.
“I redshirted last year because I tore some stuff in my knee,” said Jackson. “It was hard because I’ve never been injured before, sitting on the side watching my team practice and play threw me out of the loop, like I wasn’t on the ream anymore.”
Jackson, whose best high jump so far is 6’ 10 ½” hopes to break his own personal record.
“Next season I want to get to seven feet, “Jackson said. “Because basically if you can get to seven feet you’re in the money.”
Name: Eva Gjorgieva
Downers Grove South HS
On Monday, Drew Palmisano, Michigan State University (MSU) hockey player, and Kevin Jackson, MSU track and fielder, held a press conference on the MSU campus to speak to journalism students about their experiences as college athletes.
Palmisano has been playing hockey since age three. Jackson, on the other hand, was a basketball player who switched to the high jump in track in the second semester of his senior year in high school.
With varying experience in their respective sports, each athlete had a different perspective on his time at MSU. Jackson is in his junior year and plans on going to law school after graduation but takes his current place on the team seriously.
“When we’re here, it’s like a job,” said Jackson. “They’re investing money in us, and they expect something out of it.”
Palmisano, however, wants to take himself farther as a goalie. Going into his junior year as well, he hopes to play in some level of professional hockey after college, either in the U.S. or Europe. This is what Palmisano has been striving for throughout his 18 years as a hockey player, even though it has been tough for him at times.
“I didn’t have a lot of friends [in high school]. I was gone all of the time. As I look back, I know there’s a reason I was sacrificing all of that stuff,” said Palmisano. “It’s like a dream come true that I’m here right now.”
Even though both athletes have had different goals and experiences with their sports, both agreed that the most important thing is to just keep trying.
“You’re blessed with the ability to do a certain thing, but sometimes it’s not enough,” said Jackson.
“Keep persevering,” added Palmisano, “working your hardest.”
Name: Alycia Vaillancourt
Waterford Kettering HS
Room G8 in Holden Hall can seem a desolate place all the way down in the basement of Michigan State University, but Spartan hockey goalie Drew Palmisano and track high jumper Kevin Jackson found it perfectly suitable Monday evening. These MSU juniors took time to talk to MIPA newspaper students for over an hour in the newly air-conditioned room, with topics ranging from their sports to life threatening diseases.
“I was diagnosed with ITP, which is a blood condition, my junior year in high school,” Palmisano said. “I was out for three or four months.”
This was a devastating blow to Palmisano, especially as hockey was his “one love.” This blood condition was very serious, which prevented him from playing even the simplest recreational sports, like badmitten. Thankfully the doctors put him on a cell raising medicine, and he was welcomed back to hockey, beginning to practice again with tennis balls.
Jackson shared a similar hardship with his knee injury.
“Last year I couldn’t play,” he said, “because I busted my knee.”
Jackson had to get a knee scope and will be in his cast for another four weeks. After that he can get back to light training for track.
Injuries aren’t the only thing these two athletes have in common. Palmisano and Jackson both agree they’ve got a great support system coming from their families, which they said helps them a lot. But each of them said that it is drive, ultimately, that keeps them motivated and pushing forward.
“For me, it’s just staying focused on my goals, especially in college,” Jackson said. “There’s a lot going on.”
Palmisano agreed, saying, “I just strive to be the best.”