The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) Sports Task Force has named Jackson Safon the inaugural winner of its ESPN internship.

Safon is graduating with a degree from the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. 

“The process to find one that was most worthy of this ESPN/AAJA Sports Task Force internship wasn’t easy, with so many strong candidates,” said Howard Chen, STF’s chairman. “Special thanks to our judging panel for going through all the entries and selecting USC’s Jackson Safon, our inaugural winner of this incredible opportunity. Think about it: this is a paid internship with furnished housing covered! Thank you to ESPN and Disney for continuing to champion diversity with this internship.”

There were over 43 applicants for the ESPN/ AAJA Sports Task Force internship, but Jackson distinguished himself with his grades and his extensive work as in digital and broadcast media.

Brady Wakayama wins inaugural AAJA Sports Task Force scholarship

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) Sports Task Force has named Brady Wakayama the first ever recipient of the Al Young Sports Journalism Scholarship.

Wakayama, a senior at Washington State University, is a communications major with an emphasis on broadcast journalism and a minor in sports management.  He is currently developing his skills as a member of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication’s Murrow News 8 team, where he has done everything from reporting, writing and producing to anchoring newscasts.Brady Wakayama

“As the namesake of this award, I’m extremely delighted and proud to congratulate Brady on being the inaugural winner of the AAJA Sports Task Force Journalism Scholarship. This is not only a testament to the hard work and dedication he has already shown early on but, hopefully, this will be another stepping stone toward achieving his sports journalism career dreams,” said Al Young, a retired sports journalist and current advisor to the Quincy College (Mass.) student newspaper.

Currently a student member of AAJA, Wakayama has also shown his support in the Asian American community, volunteering since 2009 at Seattle’s Asian Counseling and Referral Service.

“Brady was among a number of strong applicants for our first scholarship,” said Sports Task Force chairperson Carolyn Hong.  “His passion, attitude and commitment to sports impressed all of us on the selection committee.  He is a great representative of the nation’s up-and-coming Asian American sports journalists, and we hope there are many more who will follow in his footsteps.”

Award-winning sports journalist Al Young

Wakayama is expected to graduate in May 2016.

“I certainly appreciate the ongoing support and mentorship (of the AAJA Sports Task Force) as I pursue a broadcast journalism career in the sports media industry,” Wakayama said. “The Al Young Sports Journalism scholarship is an unbelievable honor, and has further inspired and motivated me to do great things in this industry.”

The Al Young Sports Journalism scholarship is named after an award-winning journalist whose career spanned more than three decades.  Young was the nation’s first Asian American sportswriter at a metro daily.

He was a writer and editor at various publications including the Boston Globe, USA Today and the New York Daily News before he retired in 2014.

Reggie Ho humbly shares his inspiring story with Sports Task Force

By Alysha Tsuji

Reggie Ho inconspicuously walked into the tail-end of an AAJA Sports Task Force meeting to say a few words prior to a screening of an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary based off of his time as kicker for Notre Dame football.

I had watched the short film prior to the screening, so I knew what to expect from it: a riveting story about a man who fought his way onto a competitive football team while also studying to be a doctor — and who then succeeded at both.

Ho could have said a lot of things to us as he stood up. He could have harped on his personal accomplishments, or he could have given us a light preview of his documentary. Instead, he simply thanked the Sports Task Force for having him and sat down. The brevity surprised me, especially since it was revealed that he had cut his family’s Hawaiian vacation time short to be at the AAJA convention with us.

But after the screening, as ESPN anchor Kevin Negandhi conducted a Q&A with Ho, I understood.

Every question Negandhi asked, Ho answered respectfully, with pure class and humility. Negandhi even joked about how, at one point, Ho provided a room full of journalists with the classic canned “It wasn’t me, it was the team” answer.

It quickly became evident that it wasn’t a canned answer. It was just Reggie Ho being Reggie Ho.

The hard work, the discipline, the humility — it propelled Ho to success. He’s now a cardiologist who will forever have his fond memories of kicking for Notre Dame football and winning a title in 1988.

A key moment that resonated with me was when Ho recalled how Coach Lou Holtz addressed the team after the championship win. Holtz told them — in the midst of a national championship victory — to remember there was more to life than football. Ho said he was touched that Holtz took a moment to acknowledge that football was just a sport, and that family, God and friends mattered more.

That perspective can speak to people in all walks of life, and it was inspiring to hear from Dr. Ho himself. Here are some social media highlights of the “Student/Athlete” screening and post-film interview:

With legendary Notre Dame kicker Dr. Reggie Ho and morning ESPN SportsCenter anchor Kevin Negandhi #AAJA15 #SportsTaskForce

A photo posted by Josh Canlas Tolentino (@jctsports) on