McNeill ‘eager’ to join Independent sports staff

Hello, Marshall! My name is Jake McNeill and I’m excited to get started with the Marshall Independent, keeping you updated on all of the latest local sporting news.

I was born about an hour outside of Boston in the suburb of Mansfield, Massachusetts. I’ve loved sports for as long as I can remember. While I wasn’t necessarily physically equipped to make an impact on the field, I came to find a passion for watching and analyzing just as much, which led me to sports writing.

While Boston has enjoyed some of the greatest dynasties in sports since the start of the 20th century, I decided to torture myself by following Boston College men’s basketball more closely than any other team. They still haven’t found their way to March Madness since 2009, when I was 10 years old. Only Washington State has a longer drought in a Power 5 conference.

Yet, my suffering wasn’t without meaning. My masochistic love for BC sports brought me there as a student in 2018, where I studied communication and journalism. I tried writing in all sorts of fields, but nothing drove me the way sports did. I was able to get my start in sports writing with The Gavel, a student-run newspaper, as a freshman staff writer. I spent all four years there with the paper, including as the head of the sports section in 2021-22. The Gavel gave me opportunities that I could have only dreamed of a few years earlier, such as being able to ask questions alongside legendary sports reporters such as Bob Ryan during Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski’s postgame press conference in his final season.

My college years in Chestnut Hill also indirectly led me to my first professional journalism experience. I joined Boston College’s running club to continue my hobby of long distance running. My freshman year, I was training for a marathon until my career got cut short by my second and third ankle sprains (the current tally is 21, for those keeping track at home).

I wasn’t able to participate in the running club as often due to my injuries, but a former teammate of mine recruited me to work for the New England division of USA Track and Field. Here, I gained my first experience regularly interviewing athletes one-on-one, from middle-school track stars to Olympic athletes such as Heather MacLean.

When I had time, particularly during the spring and summer, I volunteered to work at the Sun Chronicle, a local paper in southern Massachusetts. I mostly covered high school teams, with the exception of a few American Legion baseball games and a New England Revolution MLS match, and it showed me that this is what I want to be doing for the rest of my life.

I knew then that I needed to start looking to find a job in sports writing, and that’s what brought me here to you. As soon as I stepped foot in Marshall, I knew your small-town community was the place for me. I’m eager to get started, and can’t wait to start meeting you all.

— Jake McNeill is a sports writer with the Marshall Independent.


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