ABOUT THIS SERIES
Each day we’ll turn this page over to one of our sports writers to share behind-the-scenes stories from their years with The Times-Dispatch. Wayne Epps is a James Madison graduate who covers VCU basketball, among other topics.
Most memorable story I’ve covered: I would say a story that came in the wake of Muhammad Ali’s death. His funeral procession was broadcast on TV, and one thing that stuck out was how people around his hometown of Louisville gathered to see the procession. Some people ran alongside his hearse and some threw flowers onto it, so many that the front windshield and hood were covered with them. I was starting a summer internship at The New York Times at the time, and was assigned to go to Louisville to talk to the driver of the hearse about what that was like. I spent almost a week there to talk to him and others for the story. I went to visit Ali’s childhood home, which is now a museum. So that story is one that I won’t forget.
A memorable quote: “I’m like, ‘Well, that’s not a very big and bold goal if somebody else has done it.’ So I kind of thought on it a bit, and came up with the 60.” — Richmond triathlete Will Turner.
Turner was talking about how he originally planned to do six triathlons to commemorate his 60th birthday.
But, upon being told someone else had done that before, he reconsidered and upped his goal — by a lot.
He ended up doing 60 triathlons at the age of 60, a goal he completed in December 2018.
On the road: My craziest travel story came on March 3, 2018, at the end of my first season on the VCU beat. VCU was playing at Fordham, in the Bronx in New York City, in its regular-season finale. I planned to take the train to cover the game. The train was supposed to leave Richmond at 4:32 a.m. and, if on time, get to New York City at 11 a.m. I thought that I could make the game without issue. You probably know where this is going, though.
After myriad delays and slowdowns, I realized that I wouldn’t make it to New York in time for the game. So I got off the train in Philadelphia, found a coffee shop, pulled up the stream of the game on my laptop and covered the game that way.
I ended up finding a train back to Richmond that evening and interviewed coach Mike Rhoades by phone for my story, while on the way back. It was a long day.
Favorite trip/place you’ve been working on a story: Despite the train incident, I have to say New York City.
Best part of the job: The range of stories I get to cover. In a typical spring in particular, I could go from writing something on VCU basketball to something on the Flying Squirrels to something on JMU football to something on the spring NASCAR races at Richmond Raceway, all within a week or two. I like that at The Times-Dispatch we cover schools and sports around the state, so not much is off the table.
Least favorite part of the job: Transcribing quotes!
Why you do what you do: Everyone knows that sports is so much more than the shooting, the catching, the throwing, the running, etc. Spectators want to know more about the athletes and coaches they’re watching. So I really enjoy getting to take readers a little deeper and help explain the stories behind the people they watch. There are so many inspiring stories within the world of sports.