Amber Deanean Dodd grew up in Maryland watching her brothers play basketball and hearing her parents’ stories about their athletic past. She’s followed the W.N.B.A. and N.C.A.A. women’s basketball since she was young, but has never officially been on the field or court herself.
“I was always the bookworm,” Amber, 21, a sports journalist, said. “I’ve always been a writer.”
As she watched her family members play high school and recreational league sports, Amber fell in love with the sights of sport, like the determined looks of track runners waiting to sprint out of their starting blocks. Sounds like the echo of a basketball hitting the gym floor and the roars of the crowd in the stands of a football game brought out an emotional and personal perspective for her.
“In basketball, you’re sitting so up close,” Amber said. “Seeing players without their helmets on, seeing their facial reactions.”
Amber recently graduated from Mississippi State University. She has spent the past four years covering basketball for university publications and freelances for others outside of school, like Hoopfeed, a website covering women’s college and professional basketball. She has also broadcast for M.S.U.’s “Take 30 News.”
“I love covering basketball,” she said. “I cover women’s basketball on so many different levels. I covered the W.N.B.A. team the Washington Mystics, and Mississippi State women’s basketball, and I’ve covered Maryland a few times, too.”
As a reporter for The New York Times Student Journalism Institute’s 2019 class, Amber hopes to expand her reporting abilities outside of game coverage and into the field of community reporting.
“I’m good at what I do as a sports journalist, but I feel like I’m boxing myself in,” Amber said. “Sports journalism doesn’t have the aspects of breaking news, and it doesn’t have that aspect of journalism when it comes to just talking to people regularly without sports being the anchor of us all talking.”