"To me, there are three things we all should do every day. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is you should have your emotions move you to tears, could be happiness or joy. If you laugh, think, and cry, that’s a heck of a day." - Jim Valvano
Writing Stuff They’ll Actually Read
How to spice up your stories in 10 easy steps
But there was plenty of substance to back up his friendly appearance. When Mr. Coughlin was not trading securities at Cantor Fitzgerald, golfing, or taking his children—Rianne, 4, Sean, 2, and Riley, 9 months old—to the carousel in Central Park, he was planning social gatherings.
“I called him a friendship hawk because he was just so good at circling back and seeing how friends were doing,” said Frank Coughlin, one of his three brothers.
Timothy Coughlin, was the kind of man who gave the towel guy at the gym his start on Wall Street. The doorman from the Coughlin’s Upper East Side building was at the funeral.
“I said something smug about how Timmy was so generous,” Frank Coughlin recalled. “He said, ‘No, it wasn’t that. It was that Timmy was my friend.’”
This story could have become a research paper about runaways or those with substance problems. Instead, its about a person and very powerful.
She sat in the room at the teen runaway shelter, The Bridge, night after night, for an entire month this past summer. After struggling with addiction and running away from home, she voluntarily checked herself into the center in Grand Rapids
After doing chores and attending counseling sessions all day, she would escape to her small room where she was left alone to contemplate her life—the one she ran away from and the one she was trying to rebuild.
“The first three days I was there, I hated everything and everyone,” Semmens said. “I was so angry. But then, I took a look at the kids around me. All they looked forward to was getting wasted. I realized how good I had it and it made me want to change my life. I learned that the hardest part about the shelter wasn’t dealing with the other kids. It was dealing with myself—I battled myself every day.”
After her parents divorce and the suicide of her best friend, Semmens turned to alcohol and drugs for support. She would party every night and as a result, her grades began to slip and she failed all of her classes.
“I definitely hung out with the wrong crowd,” Semmens said. For a while I thought that I had real friends and that I was really happy. But that wasn’t the case. I sacrificed my morals in order to escape my problems.”
Before running away to the shelter, Semmens had lived with her mother and stepfather. Her mother was struggling with her own addiction to marijuana and her stepfather was an alcoholic.
“At first, I thought [my stepfather] would be good for her, but then things behan to change and I realized he had an alcohol problem. There were fights all the time. I had to go home and deal with it everyday and that was the hardest part. I never got a break.”
Mary Jane Evink taught Semmens in her World Religions class and behan to take notice of her self-destructive behaviors. When Semmens began to skip class, Evink became worried and after five days of absence, she called Semmens’ mother. That’s when Semmens’ mother finally took notice that she had run away.
“I just knew that it wasn’t like Carrie to just not show up,” Evink said. “There was something definitely wrong and I felt I had to do something.”
After receiving counseling at the shelter, Semmens decided to take control of her life. She moved in with a friend and began to support herself by working every day at a factory.
“At times, its really hard. I mean, you don’t know how much you depend on your parents until you’ve lost them,” Semmens said. “But its okay. Some kids are scared to grow up, but I really wasn’t. I think that’s because I knew I didn’t have a choice in the matter.
Semmens is a completely different person than she was a year ago. As she speaks about her past, she treats the matter with a calm maturity and acceptance. She realizes that she is not perfect, but has taken the steps needed to stay healthy.
“I’ve made mistakes and I’m not trying to look like a saint,” Semmens said. But I’ve managed to keep clean and healthy since running away. It wasn’t easy—I had to walk away from a lot of people. And I know without my friends and the support of my teachers I wouldn’t have made it this far.”
Semmens is now passing all of her classes with As and Bs and will graduate with her class. She plans on attending Baker College in order to pursue an associate’s degree in architecture and is optimistic about her future. She does not plan on letting drugs and alcohol get in her way this time.
A story is a lot like a blind date—you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression
A great lead adds drama
Find the right way to start a story—don’t be shy
You’re not writing for your father’s publication. Break out of the 5ws and H mold.
“So this is how it feels to lose in the playoffs. Twelve guys who haven’t cried in years, heads in hands, tears leaking through their fingers. A silence that echoes. The tear-jerking feeling of missed opportunity
But even the dreadful finality of the varsity boys’ third-round loss couldn’t mask the most successful season in six years.”
Maria is a clock.
What a glorious feeling Monday night for the Tigers, they’re happy again. With six runs right out of the chute—their biggest inning in four years—the Tigers started fast and maintained their speed in a soggy, but satisfying 13-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians at Jacobs Field.”
Wrestling is an independent sport. Maybe that’s why Wilmar Esteban picked it up so well.
Esteban started wrestling in eighth grade, the same year he left his mother, sister and brother in Mexico to live in Grand Haven with his father. During his freshman year, Esteban’s father moved to Muskegon, leaving Esteban to choose one more independent step. He has lived with families residing in Grand Haven ever since, eventually becoming a member of Assistant Principal Jack Provencal’s family.
“I don’t know how it all happened,” Esteban said. “My father moved to Muskegon and I would have had to attend Muskegon Public Schools. Then Mr. Provencal asked me to move in and I did.”
Although on the wrestling mat, Esteban meets adversity with ease, dealing with separation from his family for the last four years has not been a simple victory.
Four years ago, Esteban packed himself onto a small, padded airplane seat, waved goodbye to his family through small oval windows and took his last look at Mexico.
“I did not know how long I’d stay here,” Esteban said. “I got in school, got involved in sports —that’s how things happened.”
Even though his future was unclear and most of his family far away, Esteban was not intimidated.
“I wasn’t scared,” Esteban said. “I was like ‘I don’t know, discovering new things. That is all. Everything happened quickly. I said goodbye to my sister and brother, I didn’t feel sad in that moment. After I got far away it felt strange. I get sad sometimes. I don’t try to show it. I am sad inside my heart all the time when I don’t have my family. I try not to be thinking of it all the time—I can not move it away.”
That day at the airport was not, however, the last time his family saw him.
“He sent a video home,” Provencal said. “We spent a week filming him, showing his mom around town, introducing (his) friends. And he calls. He writes.”
Esteban did not have time to think about his family in Mexico when he first arrived in Michigan—he was too busy learning the English language.
“When I first moved here, I didn’t know how to speak English,” Esteban said. “I knew ‘Good Morning’ and ‘Hello’ and that was all. I was shy and all I’d say was ‘mhmm.’ Once I was riding with my wrestling coach and I was trying to explain t him about my uncle in Texas. But I said ‘ankle in Texas.’ He started laughing and he said ‘you ankle or your uncle?’ That was something funny.”
Even though English left Wilmar scrambling to adjust, the American people surprised him even more.
“In Mexico, they didn’t teach you to push yourself or go harder and in wrestling you got to go hard,” Esteban said. “Everybody’s tough and you got to work hard. I always thought Americans were, how do I say, well, like I was stronger, but I get spanked sometimes. It taught me everybody’s the same.”
Esteban not only picked up the English language in his first couple of months in the United States, but he also proved himself on the wrestling mat.
As a sophomore, in his second year of wrestling, Esteban earned a spot on the varsity wrestling team and finished as a regional qualifier.
“(Esteban) strives to be the best—he always talks about being a champion,” varsity wrestling coach James Richardson said. “He is one of the last people to leave the wrestling room after practice. He puts in extra practice, extra drills almost every day and I know he applies that to more than wrestling. He finds success [in wrestling] the same way he finds success in math class—through hard work and determination. He has to rely on being mentally tough, and he is.”
Esteban has continued with his drive for success. In this season alone, he has already claimed 30 wins.
Not everyone is ecstatic about Esteban wrestling, however.
“My mom doesn’t like it,” Esteban said. She thinks I’ll get hurt, like scratches and things. She says to me ‘don’t do that, you’ll get hurt.’ But I think its my body and I don’t mind it. Moms worry.”
Not only has Esteban taking the wrestling program by storm, but he has won over the high school as well. Esteban has been on homecoming court twice and following him down the hall, one might learn about a quarter of the school’s names by listening to his greetings.
“He’s open and willing to work hard,” junior Josh Gray said. “He can be friends with everyone.”
Junior Krystal Waters agrees.
“He’s hilarious to talk to,” Waters said. “He used to come and hang out at our soccer practices and stuff. It was fun. He’d come to our team dinners, shoot on me when I played goalie so I’d have something to do—he’s great.”
Esteban’s personality affects adults too.
“I’d describe him as incredible,” Provencal said. “He is away from his family during those tender ages when sometimes you need a hug. He’s a real conscientious guy, self-directed by needs encouragement too. He’s a very caring, respectful, honest person. Sometimes he’ll just say ‘geez.’ That’s one of his phrases, ‘geez, I can’t believe I’m here.’”
While Denawetz has seen much of the world on a student budget, she doesn’t fit the stereotype of an unwashed college kid hauling a grubby rucksack across various continents.
“I’m the one with the baby blue backpack and the pink flip-flops,” Denawetz said.
While Denawetz has seen much of the world on a student budget, she does so projecting an image that’s more Elle Woods than grubby college kid hauling a grubby rucksack across various continents.
“I’m the one with the baby blue backpack and the pink flip-flops,” Denawetz said.
While Denawetz, a tiny blonde who looks like a cross between Reese Witherspoon and Shirley Temple, has seen much of the world on a student budget, she does so projecting an image that’s more Elle Woods than grubby college kid hauling a battered rucksack across various continents.
“I’m the one with the baby blue backpack and the pink flip-flops,” Denawetz said.
“Vigorous writing is concise.”
Hospital feels like war zone
Blood ran out slowly onto white sheets as Dr. Ron O’Gorman put his gloved finger into the hole in the man’s chest to determine if a lung had been punctured. “Please stop…no more!” the man cried loudly, his face contorted with pain. “Oh my God, it hurts.”
The doctor, deadpan, didn’t stop and continued to move his finger around inside the wound on the right side of the chest. Although the man kept yelling and trying to kick his legs, the patient’s out-of-control trembling had stopped.
It was shortly after 11 p.m. Thursday when the ambulance containing the badly wounded patient arrived at Ben Taub General Hospital, but doctors had already been told he was coming. Paramedics reported they had to physically remove the man off a spiked fence at a downtown hotel after he had stuck himself trying to climb over the barrier.
“He was just hanging there,” according to a medical technician.
Think back to lit class (better yet, think about your favorite movies or TV Shows)— Take the elements of a story and put them into your journalistic writing
Billy Don Gregory looked down at his right hand, callused from more bull rides than he can count.
“It don’t bend like I want it to,” he said.
The reason is that it was nearly ripped off five years ago when a bull fell on him, jerking his hand against the rope wrapped around it. He was left with a nasty scar around most of his right wrist from surgery to reattach it — and a desire to get back on another bull.
“I couldn’t see myself not riding bulls,” Gregory said. “I may be crazy but I’m having fun.”
It was nearly midnight, Oct. 8, 1999 at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth when Gregory mounted the bull that almost cost him his hand. It was the last ride of the night, and the bull let Gregory know immediately that it wasn’t going to be an easy ride, he recalled. The bull bucked several times while still in the chute, finally rearing back so far that he fell backwards, penning Gregory on the ground and yanking his hand against the rope.
“I prayed to God all the way to the hospital to save my hand,” Gregory said. “I couldn’t picture myself with a hook on the end of my arm.”
The immediate prognosis from a team of doctors at John Peter Smith Hospital wasn’t good.
“They said my hand couldn’t be saved. I said, ‘I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you try.’ They tried and did it. I could hug them every day.”
Doctors told him to stay off bulls for at least three years. But he was back on them seven months later, riding left-handed. After two months, he tried it right-handed.
“I’ll have to admit I was a little scared,” he said. “But once this bull-riding bug gets in your blood, it’s hard to shake it. My chances of making it to the big time are not very good now, what with this bum hand. But I still get a kick out of climbing on the back of a bull and as long as my wife lets me, I’ll be riding them.”
James Miller was calling roll in his first-period history class last month when one of his 14-year old students started shouting, throwing paper and walking around the room.
The Stockard Middle School teacher’s cue to send him to the office came when the boy pulled a marijuana cigarette out of his pocket.
But before Miller could fill out the principal’s referral form, witnesses said, the youth punched him repeatedly in the face, slammed him against a chalkboard and knocked him out.
A classroom full of stunned eighth-graders looked on as the boy kicked the unconscious teacher in the chest and fled. Miller was left with a broken nose, loose teeth, eye damage and bruises. He has been on medical leave since the attack Jan. 7 at the west Oak Cliff school.
In Dallas and other urban school districts across the nation, the safety of teachers and principals is a growing concern.
Carrying only a clipboard and a malfunctioning pen Judy Coyle raps briskly on the apartment door. A moment later, a 16-year-old girl opens it.
“How come you’re not in school?” Coyle asks.
“’Cause I don’t feel good,” she replies.
“I’ve sent you a warning,” Coyle says. “I’m fixing to go one step further. I can take your mother to court or you can be in school. Now, y’all don’t have money for that. I’d hate to bring the police after you — but I will.
“Now I expect to see you in school tomorrow.”
Judy Coyle is on the job. Her silver shield, which she flashes police-style as she makes her rounds, identifies her as an attendance officer for the Irving Independent School District. But the children she tracks down know her as the truant officer
Though they made her dizzy and sick to her stomach, Lisa smoked because they made her feel accepted, inside. She chased away the nagging fears of cancer, justified them by saying to herself, “I’m just doing this for now. I won’t get hooked. I can quit any time I like.”
Johnny Cash was a rare breed, an earthy yet dazzling poet-artist, a 6-foot-2 man with crevices like hatchet marks through his cheeks who sold more than 50 million records.
Ponce de Leon Avenue is a fat boy’s dream.
In one two-block stretch, just north of downtown Atlanta, the drive-through fast-food restaurants are door-to-door, and the hungry but very busy people are bumper-to-bumper. A motorist can purchase three different brands of fried chicken, grab a handful of soft tacos, throw a pizza in the back seat, sample four different nationally advertised cheeseburgers and slurp down a butter-pecan milk shake and never get his car out of first gear.
In 1984, Birhan Weldu's face haunted the Band Aid rock concert for hunger relief. Today, she is a healthy college student who represents both the success of the relief effort and the world's failure to deal with the causes of famine.
For one night and, yes, a good chunk of one morning, they were a team.
One that had a purpose after 48 games of mostly misery.
One determined to finish this one off after so many close calls.
One that was standing at the top of the dugout, hands linked, hoping and hopping with nervous energy, all eager to see if Jason Bay's desperate sprint from third base would pay off.
"It's the kind of moment," reliever Ryan Vogelsong would say later, "that brings everyone together."
What followed would tear them apart, but only because they had to leap chaotically over the railing to mob Bay at home plate after he scored the run that ended one of the Pirates' great games in recent memory, an 18-inning, 8-7 triumph against the Houston Astros earlier today at PNC Park.
The morning clouds have teared up, sprinkling rain on the church grounds. After living together for 11 years, the Canadian men are married. Friends approach, offering best wishes, gifts, kisses and hugs.
She learned quickly, though, through the school’s Pregnancy Education and Parenting Program.