Interview with Jennifer Toland, sports reporter

Published 10 months ago -

By Caleb White, Online Editor

For Worcester sports journalist Jennifer Toland, nothing beats a good underdog story, whether it’s about the Patriots’ first Super Bowl win or an exciting match from a local collegiate team.

“There was a lot of debate over what was (the Patriots’) best Super Bowl victory and I always considered the first one the most special,” she said in an interview Monday. “As a journalist you take yourself out of the fan part of it, but as someone who grew up in New England and watching the Patriots as the laughingstock of the NFL for so many years, it was being part of a witness to history. And it was thrilling.” 

Jennifer Toland, a long-time sports writer for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, has covered many major sporting events such as the NFL and World Series. However, she mainly focuses on covering individuals from local high schools and colleges at a range of levels. “I hate when people characterize (NCAA) division I, division II, division III. It’s the work you put in, and what you get out of that work,” said Toland.

When the collegiate athletes she covers rise to new heights, Toland feels a strong sense of pride for her community. Some notable figures she’s profiled include Deonte Harty and Zach Triner, who both played for Assumption University. “To see Deonte, someone I saw every Saturday up at the multi-sports stadium now on the NFL stage, I just think it’s amazing,” she said. “And of course, Zach winning the Super Bowl, how amazing is that?” 

The one-on-one connection Toland gets when she goes to local colleges is a unique journalistic experience she enjoys. “I’m usually the only reporter at an Assumption game, at a Holy Cross game, at a Worcester State game. You do get to know the athletes you cover, which is great.”

At these local games, Toland frequently reports on exciting storyline matches that would otherwise be uncovered. One basketball game she had watched pitted Holy Cross coach Maureen Magarity against her father, Army’s coach Dave Magarity.

“It was the first time she had gone against her dad. They were both so eager to talk about facing each other, and she learned everything about coaching from him,” Toland said. “You have the game and that’s interesting but when there’s something behind the scenes it makes it a little more interesting for the reader and personalizes it too.” 

For Toland, there’s a special charm to local sports reporting. “It feels like your own story, you’re the only one doing it. You’re the only one talking to Deonte at that moment. Your local stories are more unique.”

In Worcester, the number of smaller colleges makes for great diversity in reporting. “You get to find about (athletes) away from the field,” she said. “Everyone has an interesting story to tell.”

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