Students chat with NBA.com blogger

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Sekou Smith

Beau Benzing

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

MFL MarMac seventh graders in Scott Boylen’s literature class recently had a learning experience of a lifetime when they got the opportunity to chat, via Skype, with NBA.com blogger Sekou Smith.

The question and answer session was the brainchild of student Beau Benzing, who enjoys watching and playing basketball.

“I read his blog about basketball all the time,” Benzing shared of Smith, a 20-year veteran journalist who writes a Hang Time blog on the official NBA website, sharing his views about players, coaches and others related to the game. “I went to NBA.com and found his email. I didn’t think he would answer because he’s kind of famous, but he did.”

Benzing said he shared class times with Smith, who picked a day to speak with the students from his office. Unfortunately, when that day came, Benzing was home sick. 

“I got to email him some questions, though,” said Benzing, mentioning that the class asked Smith questions about basketball and his favorite players.

“He doesn’t believe in losing on purpose,” Benzing said, referencing some of this season’s teams, who’ve been accused of tanking to get a better draft pick. “It was clear he had a lot of knowledge, and not just about basketball. He said his favorite sport is actually football.”

Bloggers themselves, the students also asked Smith for some pointers.

“Mr. Boylen had us do blogs, so I asked about improvements we could make and how to make my blog more interesting,” Benzing said.

Student Drew Mezera was curious about where and how Smith generated his blog’s content.

“I asked how long it takes blogs to be made and how he looks up and finds his information,” Mezera said. “He said he uses books and the Internet and does interviews.”

Student Elizabeth Woltz was interested in the creative nature of blogging.

“I asked how he got the idea to blog about sports,” she said. “He has some creative writing and I like to write too.”

“It was just really cool and awesome to talk with someone who’s met some of the best players,” Benzing said, adding he also enjoyed talking with someone who has a career he might someday like to have.

Boylen said his students have emailed individuals before, asking if they’d speak with the class, but few have answered, especially if they’re more well-known.

“To me, and them, it was amazing he could take the time to talk for over an hour,” Boylen said. “He modeled a lot of good things—being an excelled citizen, getting a good education and giving back to the community.”

Smith and the students were able to find some common ground in several areas, said Boylen. Smith twice interviewed former NBA player Raef LaFrentz, an MFL MarMac grad. He’s also, just for fun, gotten to play on some professional courts. Some of the girls in the class have, too. Last summer, the sixth grade girls basketball team played on the Target Center court in Minneapolis, home to the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves, in the Great Four-State Tournament. Though he’s played in many arenas, Smith admitted he’s never played basketball there.

Boylen was also impressed with Smith’s interest in the students’ blogs. He took the time to look at some and said he would provide feedback on others.

“He was just nice and compassionate,” said Boylen, noting Smith’s thoughtful gesture should live on, inspiring the students, for some time.

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