Touchdown Kansas City: Roo News Covers NFL Draft

Cristian Martinez had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cover the NFL Draft as a student journalist
Cristian Martinez stands on the lawn at an NFL Draft event. Union Station and the large stage are visible behind him and there are people all around.

Cristian Martinez stands on the football field at Central Middle School, microphone in hand. He looks over at Roo News photographer Julia Kapros and gives her a thumbs-up.

Martinez is with sports journalists from all over the country, waiting to interview prospect Will Levis for the NFL Draft in Kansas City. Unlike other journalists in the crowd, he’s still in college. Martinez is the sports editor for the UMKC student newspaper, Roo News.

“Being at the NFL Draft is a dream come true,” Martinez said. “I’ve always dreamt of covering big events. That I can go to this and learn from some of the best in the business at such a young age is spectacular.”

Covering three days of events for the NFL Draft in Kansas City didn’t just give Martinez the opportunity to interview top draft prospects such as Levis and Zay Flowers, an experience he described as “surreal.” He also got to learn from nationally known sports journalists, both by watching them and talking with them.

“I spoke with Daniel Jeremiah, Joel Klatt and Charles Davis,” Martinez said. “I asked them about their careers, and Davis gave me advice about doing play-by-play and color commentary. Getting to ask them for career advice was amazing and something I’ll never forget.”

"Opportunities will always present themselves, but you have to chase them." — Cristian Martinez

In high school, the Raytown native knew he wanted to attend college in Kansas City. Although he initially considered a university traditionally known for its journalism program, the opportunities that come from being in the heart of the city won him over.

“When I think of the opportunities I’ve had at UMKC, I don’t even know where to begin,” Martinez said. “I attended the groundbreaking for the Kansas City Current, I’ve worked for ESPN to cover Kansas City Chiefs home games, I did play-by-play for the Summit League Basketball Tournament in Sioux Falls and I cover UMKC sports. Sometimes I think about all the things I have done up to this point and it just blows my mind.”

Martinez wants to be a sports broadcaster and writer, but he is working hard to learn all aspects of the journalism field. In his words, he wants to be a “Swiss army knife” when he graduates, prepared for wherever his career may take him. He credits the opportunities and professors at UMKC, including Steve Kraske, Bill Bell and Jeffri Chadiha, for helping him become an accomplished sports journalist already.

Martinez has one piece of advice for students considering UMKC: take advantage of what the city offers.

“There’s so much you can do here, no matter what career you’re pursuing. Opportunities will always present themselves, but you have to chase them. They won’t just come to you.”

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