Interview: Robert Gagliardi

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I thought it would be interesting to interview people that have been involved in one way, shape or form with Wyoming Athletics to learn more about them and get different perspectives about Wyoming Athletics.  If there is someone you would like to see interviewed, shoot me an email at WyoFan at WyomingFanshop dot com.

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Robert Gagliardi is the sports editor of the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle. He has been covering University of Wyoming sports for more than a decade and the Mountain West Conference since the league began in 1999.

Robert also blogs at www.wyomingcowboysblog.com and can be found on twitter (@rpgagliardi)

Can you give a brief introduction of yourself; where you’re from, background, your journey to your chosen career?

I was born in Kemmerer, Wyo., where both my mom and dad were born and raised. I also lived in Dubois for two years, then moved to Bigfork, Mont. prior to the start of third grade. I graduated from Bigfork High in 1989. I went to the University of Wyoming, where since I was a kid I always wanted to play football at. That wasn’t a possibility for me, but still enjoyed my time at UW. It wasn’t until my second semester of my sophomore year that I discovered journalism as my career path. Once I did, I became hooked. I started writing for the student newspaper at UW, as the Medicine Bow Post where I was able to do a wide range of newspaper duties such as reporting, photography, design and editing. I did a couple of summer internships while in college, at my hometown newspaper in Montana — the Bigfork Eagle — and in Worland as the sports editor of the Northern Wyoming Daily News. Those internships provided me with invaluable experience. My first job out of college was at the Wyoming Tribune Eagle in Cheyenne as a sports reporter in December of 1993, and I’ve been here ever since. I have been a reporter, outdoors editor and assistant sports editor, and since November of 2002 held the title of sports editor.

Many sports writers don’t get the opportunity to cover their alma-mater.  What is it like covering athletics of a university in which you are an alumni?

I’ve always wanted to cover NCAA Division I college athletics. That was the main reason I got into sports journalism. It can be a slippery slope covering your alma mater because deep down you want them to win, but you have to be objective through the good and the bad. Anymore I don’t even think about that UW is my alma mater. Not that I’m ashamed of that fact or anything like that, but I just don’t let it enter my mind. With any team your cover, things are better when they win. Access is easier, interviews are easier, stories are more enjoyable to write, etc. But you can’t get caught up in “that’s my school” or you won’t do your job well. Early in my career my bosses got on me because they thought I was too soft covering UW athletics. More often than not, I am told by readers I am too hard on them. I must be doing my job better now, right? LOL

Is there a particular sport you have a passion for and like to cover more than others?

If I had to choose one sport it would be football. To me football is the most difficult sport to cover because so much happens in a game and a season. There are 100 players and around a dozen coaches to follow. And in this day and age, lot of other issues like conference expansion, etc. There isn’t a sport I don’t like to cover, but football is special. A close second to football for me would be between basketball and rodeo.

You’ve been following UW athletics for so long it may be hard to pinpoint just one, but is there a game or memory that stands out to you as a favorite? Why?

As far as covering UW goes, I would say the 2000-01 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament where the Cowboys upset Gonzaga then lost to Arizona in the second round. There’s something special about covering an NCAA Tournament, especially when the team you cover wins a game. UW’s last two bowl victories were cool, more in the fact how much it meant to the players and fans. Seeing the Arena-Auditorium packed for the WNIT championship game in 2007 was something I thought I would never see at UW. It wasn’t long ago women’s hoops was an afterthought at UW. Not any more.

What other collegiate teams do you like to follow or are you a fan of for one reason or another?

I really don’t have a “favorite team.” I follow college football a lot as a voter in the Harris Interactive Poll, one of the components for the BCS rankings. I’ve also been an Associated Press poll voter in the past. I enjoy watching and following college football and basketball, but as a working sports editor covering a beat it’s hard to catch a lot of games.

If you had the opportunity to cover any sporting event in the world, what would it be?

I would want to cover an NCAA Final Four and a BCS championship game. Can’t pick one over the other.

What advice would you give to aspiring sports writers?

The best advice I can give is to be versatile. Try a lot of things; writing, editing, photography, etc. The more you can do, the more marketable you will be. Learn the electronic and social media age we are in because that is rapidly becoming a big part of our business. Do as many internships and on-the-job training things you can do. Learning from a book is fine, but nothing can substitute real-time training like that.

Which over-used sports cliche annoys you the most?

The one that drives me nuts is “It is what it is.”

Was there a particular sports writer that inspired your career? What sports personalities do you like to follow now?

I always enjoyed reading articles by sports writers like Tracy Ringolsby from the now defunct Rocky Mountain News in Denver and Woody Paige from the Denver Post when I was in college. I don’t know if I can say anyone inspired my career, but I try to follow as many writers as possible to steal or borrow ideas from. There are some very good writers out there, and unfortunately because of the economic direction newspapers have gone in the past few years, a lot of talented writers out of work.

When you’re not covering, interviewing, writing or blogging about sports, where would you most likely be found?

Ideally I would like to be found fishing on a stream some where with my golden retriever, Snyder.