Seattle U Alum’s Path to Success in Sports Writing



Nick McCarvel, sports journalist and Seattle University alumni, bounces between topics of ethics and truth in reporting.

Nick McCarvel’s path to success was not an easy one. Filled with many ups and downs, his perseverance has carried him through and made it all worth it in the end. The 2008 graduate of Seattle University shared his story in a moving presentation to current students and on campus Wednesday, Oct. 17.

McCarvel is currently a freelance writer living in New York City. While he calls New York home now, McCarvel travels frequently for his work, visiting the likes of Seoul, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney and many more. Some of the work that he does is covering the Australian Open, U.S Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the recent Summer Olympic Games in South Korea. He utilizes his skills as a writer and broadcaster covering many different sports such as gymnastics, figure skating, and volleyball.

McCarvel talked strongly in his presentation of five different key items in his path to success: knowing your strengths, utilizing your connections, following with your connections, taking chances and passion versus sustainability.

Cultivating connections was a point McCarvel hammered home. Connections open doors for you in the professional world. This is what helped McCarvel get published in many major news outlets such as USA Today, ESPN, and TENNIS Magazine.

For McCarvel, it all started with a simple love for a sport, Tennis. McCarvel’s family encouraged him to play, particularly his dad and grandfather. Growing up only a block away from the tennis courts in Helena, Montana. McCarvel would find himself playing every morning.

“Since I was five I started hitting against a wall. We had this beautifully smooth wall in our back alley, that was our neighbor’s barn actually, but from there that was my sport.”

As time passed, McCarvel discovered another passion— newspapers. After reading the sports section of the newspaper, something clicked in McCarvel. He realized this is what he needed to do, he wanted to be a sports writer.

“When I got into high school, my sophomore year, I started working for the school newspaper. I loved reading the newspaper, I loved the sports section. I remember seeing the Associated Press have the same guy working on tennis all the time and I just remember thinking, I want his job.”

McCarvel came to Seattle U in 2004. He earned his bachelor’s in Journalism and Mass Communications. Throughout his time at Seattle U, McCarvel was heavily involved on campus. McCarvel was a NAEF scholar, co-coordinator of the Ban the Bottle Campaign, winner of the Sylvia Rivera Queer Activism Award, residential assistant, Ignatian scholar, and a SEARCH retreat committee member.

“I don’t think I would be where I am today without my SU education. I really tried to take an active role on campus and I think that is what readied me for the freelance stuff that I do now because it was a lot of juggling and ‘what am I doing next’.”

He began his career by moving to New York City. McCarvel did not become a successful tennis writer overnight. He worked odd jobs while still working to pursue his dream of becoming a sports writer. McCarvel worked for a catering company on the weekends and as a barista, all the while continuing to write and send his pieces out to magazines, waiting for his big break.

“There’s been a lot of times where I was like should I switch careers, should I try and go with something safer? Should I work in a communications department? But I love what I do, I love the stories, I love the athletes, I love the challenge of it all, I love to travel. I’m really happy that I didn’t choose to walk away from it.”

Over time he finally began finding jobs in writing. He would write freelance pieces for volleyball magazines, figure skating publications and of course tennis blogs.

McCarvel identifies openly as a gay man. Sports and sports media is typically known for their hyper-masculine culture that makes it difficult for many to be open about their identity whether they are on or off their field or court.

“In the past few months, I tried to build, what is my small platform to make tennis more welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community. We have plenty of out lesbians that are professionals, but it hasn’t been a space for the male athlete who hasn’t felt comfortable in their playing field to come out so there’s plenty of work that needs to be done there. I tried making good for others to speak out and to say ‘I’m queer’ there’s a lot of other people like me.”

Caylah may be reached at
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