I was both blessed and lucky at times, and resourceful at others throughout this year, 2022—my 47th year as a journalist.
I got exclusive quotes from the likes of famed filmmaker, producer, and lifelong New York Knicks fan Spike Lee, who was a featured speaker at a cryptocurrency convention in downtown Minneapolis, and attorney Ben Crump inside a ballroom in Las Vegas. I worked the room in Springfield, Mass. at the Basketball Hall of Fame. I sat in the dugout at both Twin Cities baseball parks and talked to the respective Black players from the Twins and the Saints.
We reported on historic moments that escaped mainstream media’s gaze, like the state’s only Black female college hockey player in her last collegiate season, and the children of fathers who once played college and pro ball. I attended my first fencing tournament and found several Black fencers in an otherwise White environment. Also found Black baseball and volleyball fans in our never-ending search for both.
Minneapolis hosted the 2022 Women’s Final Four for the first time since 1995—it was my fourth-ever WBB event. I witnessed Dawn Staley become the first Black coach male or female to win two national basketball championships and got some stolen moments with her. I also got some stolen moments from the South Carolina band director, the only Black leader of the four school bands.
I connected with several members of the 1982 Cheyney State national runners-up team, which then and now is the only HBCU team that ever competed for a national title. Deb Walker gave me a Cheyney State button because I spent time speaking to her and her mates.
By attending this summer in Vegas my first in-person NABJ convention since the pandemic, I ran into attorney Crump, got HOF Spencer Haywood to sign my copy of his autobiography, and also reunited with Las Vegas Aces President Nikki Fargas.
Fargas and I first spoke here years ago when she was coaching UCLA. She predicted that her Aces would be the first pro team to bring home a ‘chip’ (championship), which did happen a month later when her club won the WNBA title, making Fargas the first Black team president in league history to win a championship.
We also recounted our worst-ever experience covering the WNBA All-Star Game this summer. League Commissioner Cathy Engelbert later apologized in person and promised that she’d look into the matter. To date, I haven’t received any updates.
I also got shoutouts on national television, one from Lindsay Whalen the day before her 2022 HOF induction; I was the only Minnesota media there. The second came from Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren during his conference’s basketball media days held in Minneapolis this fall.
Finally, this year brought me an unexpected surprise. I got a call in January from the U.S. Basketball Writers of America that I would become the first Black Press member to be inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame.
From then on, I got tons of congratulatory texts, tweets, and emails from people local and national. I was on a media blitz, being interviewed by print, electronic, and web folk. The Gophers honored me on its video scoreboard at The Barn, and the Timberwolves/Lynx gave me a personalized notebook.
The Twins gave me a jersey with my name on it, and I threw out the first ball at a ball game on my birthday. That was the beginning of the honors received this year, which also included a WBCA Media Award and MIAC Media Award.
Overall, it was a good year. Can’t wait for 2023.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.