Game On: The human side of sports

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Let’s start with a personal story.

Pat McDonald needed a stringer for Friday night football coverage at the now-shuttered Journal Tribune in Biddeford. My dad was unavailable, so he figured I’d like to try. I loved sports, could write, and spent my mornings scouring box scores and articles in the Portland Press Herald’s sports section.

Thornton Academy at Deering High School football. Under the lights. First byline. What a feeling; I was hooked.

I’m only 23, but I’ve been around the Portland sports scene for what feels like forever. That’s why I’m writing this new monthly column, which will cover human-interest sports stories and the intersection of sports with arts, business, and culture.

Let me get something off my chest. Yes, I’m that kid who hounded autographs, broken bats, and game-used sneakers from the local minor league teams throughout middle and high school. Those days are long gone.

I coached local youth basketball year-round in southern Maine starting at age 12, a seventh-grader coaching second- and third-graders. My Deering High School athletics career was nothing of note, but I ended up a decent tennis player. Worked in the Portland Sea Dogs clubhouse. Interned at the Portland Pirates. Freelanced for the Journal Tribune before I went off to college. Although it’s been a half-decade since I’ve immersed myself fully into Portland’s sports scene, I’ve never stopped keeping tabs.

I majored in journalism at Boston University, an amazing institution. I enjoyed my college experience more than I ever could have imagined. I learned from professors at the top of their fields and experienced the best of what Boston offers as a city.

I dedicated myself to sports journalism from the first time I stepped on Commonwealth Avenue in the fall of 2016. I started off my first college weekend covering BU’s field hockey team, my first beat for the Daily Free Press student newspaper. I covered the program for four years and became its play-by-play announcer. I did broadcasting and public address announcements at BU, Boston College, and Harvard. I worked three years at The Boston Globe and interned with the Detroit Free Press, Falmouth Commodores of the Cape Cod Baseball League, WEEI Sports Radio Network, and contributed to various other publications.

And I graduated from college in 2020, finishing up by shutting down my laptop after a Zoom course in my parent’s dining room. After a few uncertain months, I found a place to begin my professional career.

It was an honor to spend about a year with the Morning Sentinel in Waterville as a news reporter. I learned so much about reporting, and quite frankly, society as a whole. In college, I described myself as strictly a sports reporter, but my experience with the Sentinel broadened my scope and brought me new interests. I also know way too much about zoning in the town of Winslow.

I recently started a new adventure as a content writer at WEX, the Portland-based global provider of financial technology and payment systems for businesses. Writing this column lets me stay around journalism a bit.

And for those of you wondering about my name, yes, I am indeed related to that Levinsky’s.

Game on.

Greg Levinsky is a Portland native and follower of local sports. He is an alumnus of Deering High School and Boston University whose work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Detroit Free Press, and several Maine newspapers. He can be reached at [email protected].