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NSSA Weekend: Local fans get chance for autographs

By Jordan Honeycutt
sports@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — NSSA state sportswriters and sportscasters of the year gathered and mingled with fans of all types at Waterworks Art Gallery Sunday, taking pictures and signing autographs.
One nice thing to see was a father bringing his young son out to get a glimpse of successful people in the sports industry.
Andy Storey, a Salisbury resident and his 13-year-old son, Spencer, were on hand to take in the festivities.
“I’m here to see Mike Tirico mainly, but I want to be a sportswriter when I get out of school,” said Spencer. “I’m a huge sports fan. And to be honest, I do not know all of the guys here, but I am going to go through the lines and talk to them all.”
Unfortunately for Spencer, Tirico did not make the signing as he was caught at the airport. But the youngster still had a smile on his face upon leaving.
Other attendees were a pair of ladies who are seniors at Syracuse University and sports journalism students: Priyanka Vohra and Brenna Wilson.
Syracuse has the first-ever chapter of NSSA at a university and Vohra and Wilson are the co-presidents.
“This has been great for us,” Vohra said. “Dave (Goren) is a Syracuse alum and he told us about the trip here and we felt it was an opportunity that we couldn’t miss out on.”
Wilson, who said she was kind of pushed toward sports journalism by a family friend, said that this weekend was inspiring to her as well as a wonderful opportunity.
The lone lady among the winners at the signing was Mary Jo Perino out of the Bluegrass State of Kentucky. She is a writer in Lexington and definitely has her share of excitement covering the Wildcats basketball program. She was honored to make the trip back to Salisbury.
Also among the professionals giving out their John Hancocks was the voice of the Tennessee Titans, Mike Keith, recipient of the award for Tennessee state sportscaster of the year.
Keith marvels about his trip to Salisbury and had perhaps the biggest gleam in his eyes as any of the attendees at Waterworks.
“This is just great. I mean, you see everything that goes into what Salisbury does well with this weekend,” Keith said.
“You do not get this kind of appreciation every day at any job in the country and it really is the best part of winning the award. It is why repeat winners such as myself strive to do whatever it takes to make it back here.”
Other repeat winners from a year ago including: Van Tate (NM), Steve Cotton (WV), George Commo (VT), Steve Ryder (RI), Dave Reynolds (IL), Terry Hutchens (IN), and Wes Durham (GA) all echoed those sentiments of Keith and Perino about how great it was to be back in Salisbury.
While it was a bit disappointing to some fans that a few of the bigger names like Tirico, Bob Ryan and Brent Musberger were not able to make the signing, many found out about a lot of excellent writers and broadcasters that they had zero to very little knowledge about prior to Sunday.
This day and event even lets some professionals in other fields such as Salisbury’s Matt Marshburn, an athletic trainer at Salisbury Orthopedic Associates, rekindle old fires and live vicariously through these writers.
“I used to aspire to be a sportswriter before I turned towards the medical side of things and it’s really cool to see these people succeeding in that field,” Marshburn said.
“I read some of Bob Ryan’s stuff and obviously enjoy Tirico on Monday Night Football and NBA games. But meeting everyone here is a great experience.”
So, like many years before and many years to follow, the NSSA’s best with their pen and the microphone have converged upon Salisbury to be rightfully honored by fans and peers for a job well done.
Anyone who returns in 2012 will know one thing for sure. The barbecue, Cheerwine and hospitality will still be here.

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