The veteran sports columnist for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder was in familiar territory while covering the presentation of the Sam Lacy Pioneer Awards during the 40th Annual National Association of Black Journalists Convention in Minneapolis last week.
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What Hallman didn’t know was that he was one of seven honorees who received the award named after Lacy, the late legendary sportswriter who wrote for the Baltimore Afro-American and other Black publications until he was 99 years old.
The Sam Lacy Pioneer Awards is a major event during the NABJ Convention hosted by the NABJ Sports Task Force, a group of Black print, broadcast and on-line sports journalists, including the MSR, hosted by Morehouse College of Journalism and Sports Program Director Ron Thomas. The award celebrates local sports figures from the convention’s host city.
The 60-year old Hallman observed and took notes as former Minnesota State Supreme Court Justice and NFL Hall of Famer Alan Page; University of Minnesota basketball great Linda Roberts; legendary Minneapolis Public Schools educator and administrator and former U of M football player and boxer Bill McMoore; Minnesota Twins icon Tony Oliva; 1999 US Soccer World Cup team member Briana Scurry; and Minneapolis Star Tribune Twins beat writer and 2015 Sports Task Force Journalist of the Year LaVelle Neal III all received recognition for their contributions and accomplishments.
There was one more person left to be honored.
“I was sitting there ready to take notes on the next honoree,” he said. “Then they called my name. I was totally caught off guard.”
All of sudden Hallman was in unfamiliar territory.
Hallman, who has covered community events, racial issues, University of Minnesota athletics, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Lynx, and Minnesota Twins for nearly three decades, has always shied away from individual honors and recognition. He was surprised that he would even be considered for such an honor.
“I was very humbled that they [the Sports Task Force] thought I was worthy of the award,” he said. “Being honored by your peers is one of the highest honors you can receive.”
Hallman grew up in Detroit and starred at St. Martin De Porres High School, graduating in 1973. He went on to earn a journalism degree from Michigan State University in 1977 and settled in to the Twin Cities in 1983.
Since his arrival, he has had basketball coaching stints at Minneapolis Henry High School, Visitation High School, and most recently at Minneapolis South, where he is the longest tenured coach in the City Conference with two decades of service, the same amount of time he has written for the MSR. He also served as an elementary teacher in the Saint Paul Public School system.
Last Friday evening was without a doubt one of Hallman’s most memorable in his illustrious journalism career. He made it clear, however that he’s not in the journalism profession for awards or recognition.
“It’s nice to be honored with such distinguished people,” Hallman said after being recognized before a packed house. “I never lobby for recognition or awards,” he added. “I do what I do because I enjoy it.”
Those words rang true as Hallman, who wrote an article highlighting the event not knowing he was going to be an honoree (see last week’s “Another View,”) responded when asked how he celebrated his moment.
“It was a short celebration,” he said. “I had three stories to write.”
Mitchell Palmer McDonald welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.