Daily News Sports: Our experience covering the MAC Tournament in Cleveland

March 7-11, news editor and Ball State Women's Basketball primary beat reporter Kyle Smedley, visual and photo editor Amber Pietz, associate photo editor Jacy Bradley, Ball State Men's Basketball primary beat reporter Derran Cobb, Ball State Women's Basketball secondary beat reporter Elijah Poe, Ball State Men's Basketball secondary beat reporter Zach Carter and student photographer/journalist Brayden Goins, traveled to cover the men's and women's Mid-American Conference (MAC) Tournament contests in Cleveland.

The men's team fell to Ohio 90-70 in a first round contest March 9, while the women's team reached the semifinal round after defeating Akron 92-68 March 8, the Cardinals lost to Bowling Green 70-61 March 10. After the trip, the seven wanted to take time to reflect on their opportunity to not only cover these three games and more, but also their experience traveling together as a part of Daily News Sports.

Kyle Smedley, news editor and Ball State Women's Basketball primary beat reporter

A couple of hours after I got home from Cleveland, I was texting my mom and caught myself about to call the trip a "vacation." I thought to myself, 'That wasn't really a vacation...You wrote three and edited over 10 articles, and had to help the Daily News be present on social media throughout each day over the course of five days."

But it felt like vacation. There is no other way I would've rather spent my spring break than covering Ball State Women's Basketball at the MAC Tournament in Cleveland, while also helping three other writers do the best they could to produce great content and supporting three photographers the best I could.

Because it never felt like work.

Yes, I never slept in later than 7:30 a.m. Yes, I was constantly thinking about writing and being the best professional I could be. But I loved every minute of it.

And it's not because I'm "addicted to the grind." It's because I love what I do and I work alongside talented peers who are genuinely enjoyable to be around. That's why college journalism, to me, is such a unique situation, and one I'll cherish as long as I'm involved in it.

When is another time in my life I'll be able to do the work I'm doing, while also having one of the best weeks I can remember with six people I see multiple times a week? I need to cherish this now, because I think it's what really makes college journalism special.

Yeah, covering Ball State Women's Basketball's two games in the MAC Tournament was a dream come true and an experience I'll never forget, but I really think I'll remember everything surrounding it even more.

The inside jokes. The restaurants. The sights. The car rides. The entire experience.

During these four days, Cleveland became one of my favorite cities due to the phenomenal food and scenery. During these four days, the six colleagues I spent practically every waking moment with secured a special place in my life. While I knew everyone prior to this trip, it would be blasphemous of me to act like I'm not closer with each one of them after those five days.

This was truly one of the best experiences of my life, and one I won't soon forget. And I would be remiss if I didn't specifically thank each and every one of the donors who made this trip, and all we do at the Ball State Daily News possible.

Journalism is what I feel called to do, and I enjoyed every second of work I put in surrounding this trip. However, I may have even enjoyed the time spent with my peers even more.

Contact Kyle Smedley with comments via email at kyle.smedley@bsu.edu or on Twitter @KyleSmedley_.

Amber Pietz, Visual and Photo Editor

When I found out I would be covering the MAC Tournament for Ball State Men’s and Women’s Basketball, I knew it was going to be unlike any other opportunity I’ve had with the Daily News. I’ve been lucky enough to have multiple travel opportunities with the DN since I started not even two years ago, but I knew this was going to be special.

I don’t know if there would be a lot of students that would give up their spring break to work and cover a conference tournament, but there’s no place I’d rather be. Since I started at the DN I’ve been able to see my work grow, and with every experience I’m reminded of just how far I’ve come since covering my first game at Ball State. 

Being able to cover two tournaments in the same city with six amazing and talented peers is an incredible opportunity that more students should want to experience. From having fun exploring Cleveland to stumbling across restaurants to all the laughs we had along the way, this will be one to remember.

Contact Amber Pietz with comments at amber.pietz@bsu.edu or on Twitter @arpietz15.

Jacy Bradley, associate photo editor

From the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to walking the streets of Cleveland finding a bite to eat in the freezing cold, I never would’ve thought I would have so much fun traveling just a state over to shoot photos at the MAC Tournament. 

Firstly, the food in Cleveland is some of the best I’ve ever had. I would rate everywhere we went over four out of five stars. Even the small restaurant, Uncle John’s Place, in Mansfield, Ohio, was insanely good and it wasn’t even the best one we tried. 

Secondly, having the opportunity to shoot the MAC Tournament and watching some talented teams fight for the championship had me on cloud nine. Shooting the tournament in Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse was an experience I will cherish forever. 

There is nothing like sitting next to some of my closest friends, taking photos of the sport I love shooting most and watching athletes put it all on the line. Not to mention the amazing views we had in the arena.

I genuinely appreciate every person who has donated or supported the Ball State Daily News in any way, because opportunities like these are what I will take with me for years to come. These memories are incredibly special and I will never forget the laughter, the views or the way I felt doing what I love most. 

Contact Jacy Bradley with comments via email at jlbradley@bsu.edu or on Twitter @jacylbradley.

Derran Cobb, Ball State Men’s Basketball primary beat reporter

For me, the MAC Tournament experience was a series of firsts; My first time in Cleveland, my first time at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse and my first time seeing a 70,000 pound stamp. However, it wasn’t my first time covering Ball State Men’s Basketball at an NBA arena. 

That didn’t matter, as I had one of the most unique and memorable experiences I’ve ever had. From the hotel room 15 minutes away from the arena, to the downtown restaurants, to Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What I liked the most about this trip was the professionalism displayed by my colleagues and I. 

When there was time between stories and coverage, fun was had everywhere in many ways. But when it was time to get serious and work, everyone did what they needed to do, still having fun doing so. 

The food in downtown Cleveland was amazing, albeit expensive, seeing as no restaurant we visited left me dissatisfied. My personal favorite was the garlic parmesan wings from Harry Buffalo – the same setting for a Ball State Women’s Basketball  "Pregame Party".  

All in all, I had a great time getting professional-level career experience in a great city with scenic streets and good restaurants. Although both the men and women lost, reporting and writing about them while interviewing and working in NBA media facilities will be hard to be tarnished by a couple games. 

Lastly, I just want to say a thank you to all donors, advisors and readers who made this entire thing possible, and for the support of me and the rest of the Daily News.

Contact Derran Cobb with comments at derran.cobb@bsu.edu or on Twitter @Derran_cobb.

Zach Carter, Ball State Men's Basketball secondary beat reporter

When I decided to be the secondary beat reporter for Ball State Men’s Basketball, covering the MAC Tournament was the end goal. I thought to myself, ‘Would head coach Michael Lewis’ first season go well enough to get there?’

In fact, it was. And I was glad to see it happen, because when we drove up to Cleveland, it was a blast. I knew that if the car ride was that awesome, being at the MAC Tournament would be a cool experience. 

And it did not disappoint.

I had never been to another professional basketball arena besides Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, but Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse was a fun place to watch a basketball game. In my opinion, there are no bad seats in the building. Of course it was fun to cover the Cardinals in Cleveland, but I took much more from the experience than that.

One thing that was unique to me was finding out things about my fellow Daily News Reporters. What they liked, what they didn’t, and what we think about certain things in the sports world. I can honestly say experiencing new things with cool people was my favorite part about the trip.

Besides covering basketball, there were other things our group did. We visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and being a big Bruce Springsteen fan, that was an enjoyable activity to say the least. Going through the five-level music museum opened my eyes to how much music has played a part in history.

Last year, I finally watched “The Shawshank Redemption” and absolutely loved it. The last big stop on the trip was something I have wanted to do since seeing this film. 

Ever since watching the film, I have wanted to see the Ohio State Reformatory, where the movie was filmed. Walking through the halls and observing the cells where inmates stayed many years ago was eerie. 

Overall, the trip was one of the best trips I have ever been on. It showed me a little bit more about my career path and how bigger events like the MAC Tournament are covered. 

I owe the Daily News and their donors everything. It was truly an experience that is needed for new and young journalists.

Contact Zach Carter with comments at zachary.carter@bsu.edu or on Twitter @ZachCarter85.

Elijah Poe, Ball State Women's Basketball secondary beat reporter

Leading up to Cleveland, it was almost unbelievable that I would get the opportunity as a student in the second semester of their college journey to go to a major conference tournament to cover basketball. 

The experience itself was truly surreal. Being able to cover a sport I love in an NBA arena was an outstanding experience for what the future may have for me. 

The six other colleagues I went with on the trip made it that much better. Being able to work, spend time with and get to know people in the Daily News, as well as other journalists, was such a great opportunity. 

As an added plus, they were all hilarious, and I felt like each of us wanted to have a good time, but more importantly, do the best work we possibly can. We wanted to get the most out of the week. 

It was awesome to explore a city with great people, be able to just randomly stumble upon a restaurant in Cleveland and enjoy a meal together after a full day of writing, shooting photos or even posting on social media. 

My personal favorite was Uncle John’s Place (or as I liked to joke, “Uncle Joe’s”), which was the last stop on our long restaurant food trail. It was special to sit down with colleagues to have another meal on our last stop after a long week of work. Not to mention the Reuben burger was maybe the best thing I have ever eaten. 

Visiting places like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield will be something I’ll never forget. As someone who loves music, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is something I think every music fan should experience, and as someone who loves history (and movies like “The Shawshank Redemption”) I think every history buff should stop in Mansfield to check out a really cool piece of history. 

Also, Uncle John’s Place is there…

I am fortunate to be at a place like the Ball State Daily News with its supporters helping students go and cover things like this. Without the supporters behind the scenes none of the coverage throughout this week would be possible. I am grateful for the opportunity that has been given to me and am looking forward to more trips like this in the future.

Contact Elijah Poe with comments at elijah.poe@bsu.edu or on Twitter @ElijahPoe4.

Brayden Goins, photographer/reporter

I am not going to lie, before we went on this trip, I was not a big fan of the city of Cleveland. After this trip, the city grew on me, a lot, due mostly to the food and sports areas. 

While on this trip, I had some of the best food I have ever had in a short period of time; Cleveland’s food did not disappoint. 

The best meal I had was the bacon grilled cheese sandwich at Melt Bar and Grilled on night one. It was so much food I couldn’t finish it. They also had a really cool “Welcome to Cleveland” sign above the entrance to the restaurant that made the atmosphere a lot better.

Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse is the second NBA arena I have attended, and it did not disappoint either. Walking into the arena just felt special. Walking out of the arena felt similar, due to the Cleveland Guardians’ Progressive Field being right there when you exit.

As a baseball fan, walking around the stadium was breathtaking. The statues of the team’s best players of all-time in the back bring so much history to the stadium.

At the end of the trip, I can say that I would 100 percent go back to Cleveland for more sporting events even if I am not working during it. As a sports fan, I feel it would be a cool place to watch professional sporting events, whether it be baseball, basketball or more.

Contact Brayden Goins at brayden.goins@bsu.edu or on Twitter @b_goins14.