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BPS Sports blog bids adieu

Posted by Justin Rice  December 6, 2013 11:35 AM

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Almost two years ago Boston.com tapped me to write this blog as a way to boost coverage of Boston Public School sports because I started a similar blog on my own in 2009.

Sponsored by the Suffolk Construction Company to raise awareness for the Boston Scholar Athletes program, the site has enjoyed the Globe and Boston.com’s considerable resources to bring you the most comprehensive coverage of BPS sports in decades.

Unfortunately this — my final dispatch — is to report that this blog will be discontinued on Saturday. Boston.com remains committed to covering city athletes and will dedicate one college co-op per semester to covering the city league. Their stories will appear on the High School Sports blog while the stories from this blog will be archived.

I’d like to thank the Boston Scholar Athletes program for funding the site and the Globe and Boston.com editors for giving me the opportunity to show what I can do. Nobody supported the site more than Boston.com producer Zuri Berry and Globe high school sports editor Bob Holmes. I also want to thank the site’s former and current co-op students -- Hannah Becker, Mary Pavlu, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Ryan Butler -- for their hard work. The same goes for the site’s photographers: Stan Litchman, Pasha Dzemianok and Billy Owens.

Thanks to the over-extended coaches for sending their preview capsule info before each season and talking to me after every game no matter how bad the loss.

Thanks to the players for putting yourselves out there and going for your dreams no matter how silly your classmates might have tried to make you feel.

This has been the most rewarding and purposeful project of my journalism career. It was a privilege to cover the city’s athletes and teams on such a large platform.

My goal for the site was always to shine a light on the stories that had gone untold for so many years. I wasn’t so much worried about covering the Malik James’ and Brighton High’s of the world. While it was a thrill to follow the Bengals’ wild ride to a state championship last spring, their story was always going to be told by multiple media outlets — including the Globe and Boston.com.

The stories I strived to tell were the winless Boston English softball team that successfully stopped the athletics department from canceling its season because they forfeited too many games the previous year. Or the Fenway girls’ basketball player who demonstrated true grace and grit by helping her team win its second straight state championship just after her stepfather dropped dead in front of her. And the Brighton football player who left his mother in Jamaica to live with his father in the United States, only for his father to be incarcerated five days later.

The games I cared about covering were hardly attended. It was my hope that the single mother working two or three jobs could finally follow their son or daughter’s progress on the playing field.

Sometimes it was difficult to know the impact of the site. Then I would receive an email from a coach, player, parent or teacher thanking me for my coverage. Or hear from a college coach glad to finally have a tool to help recruit in the city. I was blown away when I was explaining the site to an O’Bryant High alum only to learn he was a regular reader.

The praise was as humbling as it was motivating. But I always said we were just giving the city teams the same coverage everyone else in the state has enjoyed for years.

The site also covered the dozens of nonprofit organizations such as Tenacity, America SCORES Boston and Dream Big! dedicated to improving the lives of BPS students through the power of sport.

Still, the best part of the job was teaching sports journalism to BPS students through a collaboration with a program called Teens in Print. I believe sports can be a carrot to help underprivileged kids get hooked on reading and writing and there was nothing more rewarding than seeing a student's face after their byline was published on Boston.com.

The first newspaper I ever worked for was my high school newspaper. Unfortunately most BPS schools don’t have newspapers or news websites so teaching sportswriting to BPS students is an effort I hope to continue in one form or another.

I also look forward to following the Globe’s continued coverage of the Boston City League and I hope you will too.

Justin A. Rice can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.

About Boston Public Schools Sports Blog

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Several reporters, editors and correspondents contribute updates, news and features to the BPS Sports Blog:
  • Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
  • Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.
Also expect updates from Boston.com High School sports editor Zuri Berry and the Globe staff.