By Jamie Weissman
When sophomore journalism major Kofie Yeboah was a freshman, he was told he needed more clips to become a sports writer on the campus. But instead of finding other outlets to write for, he decided to partner up with fellow journalism majors Justin Meyer and Michael Stern to create their own sports outlet: The Left Bench.
Though The Left Bench began as fun way for the three friends to get clips, the blog has quickly expanded. With a growing masthead andThe Left Bench wins best new blog partnerships already in the works, the blog just won The Baltimore Sun’s Mobbie award for Best College/Amateur Sports blog.
“At first we didn’t think that it deserved all the recognition because it was a blog we started in the lounge between us,” Stern says. “We still think that it’s a lot but we’re proud of what we have.”
The Left Bench, which got its name from those who say they play “the left bench” when they are not good at sports, covers everything from college to professional teams. However, one market they specifically focus on is high school recruiting, a subject Meyer, the assignment director, says The Left Bench does differently than other blogs.
“There is coverage of recruiting and of high school sports but it’s mainly focused on where are you going, who’s your number one,” he says. “Nobody calls these kids and asks: What do you want out of a school? Why didn’t you like this visit? Why is this your number one?
“It’s an untapped market and we’re in a hotbed for recruiting. I thought our blog should do this because it’s easy, these kids want to talk to us and nobody else does it.”
While Meyer works to expand the site’s content, Stern, the director of business, is working to expand the site’s presence. Over the summer, he created a business plan that set the blog’s goals. Now, he’s working to find innovative ways to market the blog to others.
“Thinking about how far the blog has come in one year, it’s insane,” he says. “This wasn’t supposed to be professional, it was supposed to be fun. We have no idea how this expanded.”
Yeboah, director of personnel, who hires writers and manages the blog’s appearance, might know the answer.
He says many people have been interested in writing for The Left Bench since the blog began and when word spread about the work the trio has done.
“If whatever you’re writing is unique then we’ll let it happen,” Yeboah says. “I love telling people about what we’ve done already here at Merrill College. I always look forward to what we’re going to do next. I am just proud.”
Though each founder has different career goals – Yeboah to have a radio show, Stern to work at NBC and Meyer to cover sports in Columbus – each say they would welcome the opportunity to continue working on The Left Bench.
“I have no idea where this is going but I’m excited for where it’s headed,” Yeboah says. “If all else fails, out drive will get us places higher than we ever expected.”