I was naive.
I didn’t want my trend story to end up as “one of those” that just gets published at the bottom of a high school newspaper. My story was going to appear in a national magazine, and I was going to find the big names I needed to make it a great article.
My story was about Canadians making up less than half of the National Hockey League for the first time in the 2015-2016 season.
The first day, I was able to interview Daryl Evans, a former hockey player for the Los Angeles Kings. He shared anecdotes about his career in the ’80s, and I was ecstatic about getting a credible source.
The next day, I emailed six NHL teams. Only two responded. One said people in their front office were on vacation. The other thought I was attacking the team. They said, “We are declining to speak on the subject. We select the best players available regardless of nationality.”
This brought me back down to Earth.
For the next week, I only interviewed reporters. While it was great talking to people I hoped to one day be working with, I wasn’t close to my goal. I needed a general manager or scout.
At the end of the week, a Sports Illustrated reporter gave me Craig Button’s contact. Button is a former general manager for the Calgary Flames and director of scouting for the Dallas Stars — the perfect person to interview. Button talked about bringing borscht, a traditional Soviet soup, to a homesick player.
Then doors began to open.
Button led to David Conte, the current scout for the Vegas Golden Knights who has been working in the league for over 30 years. I got a 37-minute interview with Conte. He also gave me the contact for Lou Lamoriello, the current general manager for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
While writing my trend story, I learned that not getting responses to an email is not the end of the world. If you’re persistent and show that you have the passion, you will get interviews.
Don’t give up, and always aim high.