La Salle University alum and Philadelphia Inquirer sports columnist Mike Sielski was recently named the country’s top sports columnist in the over-175,000 circulation category by the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE). The column-writing category is judged based on style, writing quality, originality, and local appeal, according to the APSE website.
Sielski found out he had won the award when he saw a tweet from APSE, “Philadelphia Inquirer’s Mike Sielski takes first place in Column Writing…”
After finding out he had won, he felt beyond humbled and very excited. After telling his wife and calling his parents with the news, he called his boss and, jokingly, said, “I really think you need to give me a raise.”
Sielski graduated from La Salle in 1997 with degrees in English and Communication. A student in La Salle’s Honor’s Program, Sielski was also sports editor and later editor-in-chief of The Collegian, the University’s student newspaper. He was also selected to give the Commencement Address at his graduation exercises.
Sielski knew he wanted to be involved in sports, either as a writer or broadcaster, when he was a student at La Salle, and he began writing for The Collegian as a freshman.
“La Salle gave students the opportunity to pursue what they wanted to pursue,” he said. “There was never a person at La Salle who said things like ‘oh you can’t do that’ or ‘you should try something else.’ No one doubted the students, but instead helped students and provided the proper resources.”
One column Sielski is particularly proud of, published on Father’s Day, is “A son’s perfect swing,” about his son Evan, who turns 4 this June and is on the autism spectrum. While Sielski was in Clearwater, Fla., last year, covering the Phillies during spring training, his wife, Kate, met with specialists from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who revealed Evan’s diagnosis. From a press box in Florida, Sielski listened to the meeting through a conference call. “The specialists’ voices were warm and understanding and kind,” he wrote in the column, “and each of them said what a bright and charming little boy Evan was. But then a doctor said the word autism, and Evan’s daddy didn’t hear much else after that because his head started spinning.”
Though Evan was on the spectrum, the Sielskis soon learned there was one thing that seemed to calm him down and put a smile on his face: watching the Phillies. Evan would run around the house, chanting the names of the players and swinging a little bat around whenever a Phillies game was on TV. Sielski said the feedback he received on the column—through through hundreds social-media posts, emails, text messages and phone calls—was overwhelming.
When Sielski was asked if he could give any advice to an aspiring sports writers, he said, “First step, read everything you can get your hands on. Second step: You have to write. You get better the more you write.”