During the summer of 2017, I had the honor of representing the United States in Israel at the Maccabiah Games. It was there, with the help of the U.S. Masters Men’s Softball Team that I decided to start my own website that would represent all of fastpitch softball.
Fastpitch isn’t just a women’s collegiate game. It’s a sport that is played at all levels from youth to club to collegiate to professional to men. I’ve noticed in my years as a sports writer that other outlets don’t cover the full scope of the sport and that’s a void which needs to be filled. Because of the void in softball coverage and just a few months removed from a gold-medal winning summer, Behind the Plate has become a reality.
I attended Arizona State’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and finished my education at Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in Mass Communications. I also bring 10-plus years experience in covering sports for various outlets such as MLB.com, The Tennessean, Tennessee Sports Magazine, Center Ice Magazine, ESPN Radio and Fox Sports Radio.
I’ve interviewed some of the greatest legends in all of sports like Lisa Fernandez, Sue Enquist, Mike White, Laura Berg, Jessica Mendoza, Don Mattingly, Clayton Kershaw, Albert Pujols, Peter Laviolette, John Tortorella, Terry Crisp, Chris Chelios, Patrick Roy, Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane just to name a few.
With softball at an all-time high and back in the Olympics, it’s up to the coaches, the players, the fans and the reporters to continue to grow the game that we all love.
And just remember, the best view to see the game is from Behind the Plate!
Don OleaArt Director
San Diego native, Don Olea has more than 25 years experience in the newspaper, magazine and sports industries. Olea began his professional career in 1987 working in the advertising and marketing departments for the San Diego Chargers and Padres.
He spent nine years (1990-99) with the Reno Gazette-Journal (Gannett West Headquarters) as a graphic designer, photographer and cartoonist. In 2000, he joined the staff as an associate art director and photographer for Billboard Magazine, The Hollywood Reporter and Amusement Business Magazine in both their Nashville and Los Angeles offices. He has also served as a award-winning freelance art director, photographer, paginator and copy editor for other Gannett papers in Tennessee and the North County Times (San Diego).
Olea’s vast knowledge of the publishing industry has enabled him to work as an advisor to numerous startup publications including, Nevada Parent Magazine, Total Pack Edge, Nevada Sports Authority, USAthletics, Venues Today, Center Ice Magazine and Tennessee Sports magazine.
As a sports photographer, Don covered the NHL’s Nashville Predators from 2004-2011. He teamed up with author Justin B. Bradford in 2016 for his book, “Nashville Predators: The Making of Smashville”. Which details the fascinating history through unique player anecdotes and perspectives from those involved in the teams rise to prominence. Don’s photos are featured throughout the book as well as the front and back cover photos.
Rhiannon PotkeyContributing Writer
Rhiannon Potkey has been working as a journalist for 20 years and covered several major college programs.
She started at the Ventura County Star in Southern California, writing about everything from high school softball and football to UCLA and USC athletics to the L.A.-based professional teams.
She spent time at the Salt Lake Tribune as the beat writer for BYU athletics, and was most recently at the Knoxville News Sentinel as the Tennessee football beat writer.
Rhiannon stepped away from newspapers last year to start a non-profit, Goods4Greatness, that focuses on connecting athletes from different walks of life through the donation of sporting goods to teams in need.
She continues to work as a freelance journalist for several major publications, and covers Tennessee softball for UTSports.com.
Rhiannon was a four-sport athlete growing up in Southern California, playing softball, basketball, soccer and tennis. She began her softball career after spending five years in Little League baseball, and remained playing travel ball until injuries forced her to put down the bat and pick up a pen and notebook in college.
She is a UC Santa Barbara graduate with a degree in psychology.
Tom BlodgettContributing Writer
Tom Blodgett spent 30 years as a journalist at The Phoenix Gazette, The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com, including 27 years in sports. He continues as a freelance writer today.
Tom grew up in Phoenix reading the sports section of the newspaper every morning on the floor next to the kitchen table while eating his cereal. He decided in the sixth grade he wanted to be a sportswriter and pursued it without interruption thereafter.
In college, he was sports editor and later editor-in-chief of The State Press, Arizona State University’s independent student news outlet, and he was named the outstanding undergraduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU. He was hired by The Gazette out of college and moved to The Republic when the papers’ staffs merged and The Gazette folded. He teaches news writing and sports reporting at the Cronkite School and serves as the editorial adviser to The State Press.
Tom has a special affinity for softball as a coach for an 18U and a women’s fastpitch club teams in the Phoenix area. His daughter Andi was a second team All-Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association softball player at Chowan University in North Carolina.
Webdrop StudioWebsite Design & Development
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