Before starting The Ruden Report, I ran an internship in the sports department of the Stamford Advocate, where I worked. Students came in at night and helped with calls from coaches reporting scores.
When this site went live four years ago, I knew I wanted to prioritize allowing students to contribute as long as the quality was not compromised. High school students are not advanced yet to write at the necessary level, but there are many other areas where they can make an impact. There are some skills, like the popular live social media on Snapchat and Instagram that we started in the winter, where students are much more proficient than us old folks.
Students are also great sounding boards for what will and won’t work with their age demographic, which is why I hold occasional focus groups for input.
Over the past four days, I have had to say — for now — goodbye to two of the contributors who have made the greatest impact: Cooper Boardman and Natalie Brassinga. Their efforts deserve public recognition.
Many of you are familiar with Cooper. The recent Staples graduate has become part of the brand here, particularly with his great highlight videos. Peers who don’t know him personally have praised his work. Cooper also handled social media graphics, edited my new podcasts and did countless other tasks that provided The Ruden Report with content that was beyond not only my capability, but that of many professionals.
He was named the high school broadcaster of the year for his work at WWPT, the student-run radio station at Staples. That was due both to his great ability calling games and his unparalleled preparation. Cooper took it upon himself to cover events like the FCIAC boys basketball playoffs and state basketball championships, even though Staples was not involved.
Cooper left this week for Syracuse. I have no doubt in the not too distant future you will be seeing and listening to him working professionally; covering major league baseball if he gets his wish.
Natalie is better known for being a key starter on the Ridgefield girls soccer team that won back-to-back FCIAC titles and made consecutive appearances in the state final. I was more formally introduced to her in the winter of 2016, when someone suggested she might be worth writing about because she is a talented artist whose work was about to appear at a show in Ridgefield. During the interview it became apparent Natalie could be beneficial to the site.
You all have seen much of Natalie’s tremendous graphic work, but she has operated behind the scenes. The new secondary TRR logo she designed has earned rave reviews. The “FCIAC Football 2017” logo that has appeared the past two days was also crafted by Natalie; she has made them for all sports this year. Most popular but still unseen will be the new Player and Team of the Week logos that will soon appear on hundreds of shirts we give out. Natalie has designed my business cards, the boys soccer and football media day banners for next week’s events and the logo for our forthcoming highlight videos.
Natalie leaves this week for the University of Connecticut’s Digital Media & Design program. Where that will take her remains unclear, but what is certain is she will achieve great success wherever she ends up.
Natalie is reserved by nature and probably won’t be happy about this post; I hope she will forgive me for this deserved indiscretion.
Cooper and Natalie share another common trait: their abilities are exceeded only by the quality of people they are. They are not just students who have worked for me, but friends.
I look forward to following Cooper and Natalie the next four years and beyond, and if we are lucky they will still make the occasional contribution here along the way.
I did this individually the past few days, but it was important to me to say one important word to Cooper and Natalie publicly.