Media Monday: Alex Kolodziej

Olivia Fuller / May 29, 2017

For this week’s Media Monday, we’d like you to meet Alex Kolodziej, reporter at FanRag Sports.

alex kolodziej1. How did you find yourself as a sports reporter?

It was such a weird journey getting into sports media, really. I was a sports management major in college and was essentially going through the motions, not really enjoying what I was doing. On a whim during my senior year of college, I phoned my cousin and told him I was interested in starting sports writing – I had always enjoyed writing stories when I was younger and truth be told, I was terrible at math. So sure enough, my cousin matched me up with one of his friends from high school who was starting a blog – which is now FanRag Sports – and the rest is history.

2. Which of your stories are you most proud of?

My “ah ha” moment as a writer came in July 2016 during a story I wrote on former Ole Miss wide receiver Shay Hodge; he was my favorite college football player when I was playing in high school, someone I really tried to emulate my game after. It was one of those real special moments of my writing career. I remember transcribing quotes at 5 a.m. and finishing the story on Shay that morning. Once I was done, I read over the preview draft and just started crying my eyes out. It was a surreal moment, when I felt like I truly had made it.

3. What is your favorite thing about your job?

There are so many perks that come with writing and reporting – meeting players and coaches, hearing stories and simply being around people who truly love to write and cover athletes. Personally, I enjoy transcribing quotes (crazy, right?). It’s an aspect I feel that most members of the media despise, but I actually love it. Not only can I zone in when I’m transcribing, there’s a sense of fulfillment in that those are the quotes you earned; your content is only as good as the questions you’re willing to ask.

4. What is your interview style?

I have something called the “five-minute rule” that I came up with on my own, which is about as simple as it sounds: Take five minutes to get to know the subject before asking interview questions. Not only does it help me acclimate with the person I’m covering, I want them to always know that their interaction is just as important as their answers. There was a time when I was interviewing a major-league baseball player and we talked about hunting for just over 11 minutes before the actual questioning started. Not only did it help me become familiar with him, I actually centered my story around that, which was pretty neat.

5. What do you look for in a story?

I really pride myself on finding stories that other writers haven’t tapped into. There’s a sense of self-efficacy whenever I can drum up an outside-the-box story or cover something that may have a unique angle to it. Over the past few months I’ve covered professional bull riding, one of my friends who had a workout with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and a Cubs fan whose video went viral after he received tickets to see his first Cubs game. Finding those challenging stories that I may not be comfortable with or accustomed to have really helped me grow and mature as a writer.

6. What is your day like at your job?

FanRag Sports has offices in Phoenix, so most of my time is spent at my desk working on stories and publishing news content for the site. It’s there where I can really settle in to a groove and find a comfort zone that helps me focus. So if I’m not there putting in my hours, I’m out in the field at local events, or recording the podcast that I host with a fellow co-worker. I’m also the office hype guy, so you can probably find me blasting music and dancing in the middle of the office, because I’m kind of odd like that.

7. Who do you most look up to in the journalism industry?

I’m such a huge fan of Jon Heyman, an MLB Insider who joined the network last summer. He’s one of the few that I absolutely, 100% have to read whenever his content comes out. I find his style and his information so valuable and being the most trusted reporter in his field definitely amplifies that. Kyle Kensing, who also writes for FanRag among a couple of other outlets, is still a huge role model for me. He took the time in the summer of 2015 to give me advice, and some of his stuff is so riveting to read that it makes me jealous. True story!

8. What is your favorite news outlet?

My favorite news outlet (other than FanRag Sports, of course) is 247Sports. The recruiting industry is one that is often overlooked, but there’s so much work to be done with the amount of high school prospects, so I appreciate what they do over there.

9. Fill in the blank:

  • If I am not reporting, I am…Working out. I’m a huge nutrition and exercise junkie and I’ve found that being healthy and staying on track has only helped stay focused through my work.
  • If I could interview anyone, it would be…Former USC and current Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Anyone that knows me is aware of how huge a fan I am (my Twitter bio literally says I’m the CEO of his fan club). Not only do I think he’s a great athlete, he probably has my favorite name in all of sports.

10. What is your guilty pleasure?

Cinnamon rolls, and there isn’t a close second. They were once the background of my iPhone for a while and there’s a pretty good chance that I could set the world record for most eaten in a sitting, should the Guinness World Record Book ever decide to hit me up.