Photo of Chapin Hall, home of the Cali School of Music

Pro Football Hall of Fame Trip to Provide SCM Students with “Opportunity of a Lifetime”

Posted in: School of Communication and Media News

Two students and two professors standing in a row with the Montclair State football coach.
From left to right, Professor Stacy Gitlin, student Gianna Daginis, Professor Steve McCarthy, Head Football Coach Rick Giancola and student Jason Naccarella take a break from prep for the students' trip to cover Sam Mills' induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

This weekend’s ceremony enshrining former Montclair State and NFL star Sam Mills into the Pro Football Hall of Fame will mark the culmination of an incredible career. For five School of Communication and Media students making the trip to Canton, OH to cover the ceremony and a series of related events, they hope the trip will build on their Montclair State experiences to launch their own impressive careers.

Under the guidance of Professors Stacy Gitlin and Steve McCarthy who will accompany them on the trip, students Teni Bello, Matt Bruchez, Gianna Daginis, Jason Naccarella and Matt Orth will cover events ranging from a Fashion Show, to a private BBQ for the Mills family, to the Class of 2022 Enshrinement ceremony on Saturday afternoon. The experience will challenge the students to improve their technical skills such as writing, editing, producing, and interviewing, and “soft” skills such as teamwork and leadership.

“This trip to Canton is going to be one of the biggest moments of my life,” said Orth, who will be new sports editor of The Montclarion this fall. “I hope this trip will inspire me to continue to become a better journalist and person in my last year and beyond. I have already learned that in this business, you need to be proactive and communicate as much as possible.”

The students have prepared for the trip all summer. “We all had different roles preparing for this trip and we’ve had great teamwork,” said Bello, who completed an internship at the Men’s Final Four this spring. “I researched and have been preparing to interview Melanie Mills, the widow of Sam Mills, and captured footage and researched the history behind the annual Fashion Show.”

Student posing in front of basketball court
Senior Teni Bello’s internship at the Final Four prepared her for the team’s trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Bruchez, who does play-by-play and color commentary for the Red Hawk Sports Network, echoed the importance of research and preparation. “I have prepared for this trip like I prepare for my broadcasts, with lots of research. I want to know everything about everyone we are interviewing as well as the other inductees to be prepared for every situation. I learned a lot more about who Sam Mills was as a person, and the type of impact that he made on others.”

“These events could be considered one of the grandest and most elegant experiences in all of sports that require the utmost professionalism, respect, passion, and diligence in order to do a good job,” said Naccarella, who is also part of the Red Hawk Sports Network and interned with CBS for the Heisman Trophy presentation this spring.  “This weekend will test those skills in all of us, including myself, and I’m excited to see how I perform. This is also a fantastic opportunity to learn more about adjusting on the fly and executing our plan.”

“I know the students’ work will be fantastic and we will all learn more about Sam’s life and legacy through their storytelling efforts,” said Dr. Keith Strudler, Director of the School of Communication and Media, who along with Professor Kelly Whiteside, Director of Sports Publicity Mike Scala, and Sports Information Coordinator Pat Duffy prepared the students for the trip. “I am happy that the experience they’ve gained in the classroom, at our student media organizations and internships has led to this special opportunity.”

About the School of Communication and Media: Founded in 2012, the School of Communication and Media offers a range of dynamic programs in communication and media to a talented and diverse student population of over 1,300. Offering degrees in film and television, social media and public relations, advertising, journalism and digital media, sports communication, communication and media studies, and an MA in public and organizational relations, the School prepares the next generation of communication and media practitioners and leaders. The School houses award-winning student programs that include WMSC 90.3 FMThe MontclarionHawk CommunicationsRed Hawk Sports NetworkNews Lab, and Hawk+, as well as the Center for Cooperative Media, which serves the public by working to grow and strengthen local journalism.

Story by Keith Green, School of Communication and Media