Kicking goals – Taylor Dent
After 12 months of 'sweat, blood and tears', Taylor Dent has become a regular sports reporter on Channel Nine's daytime bulletins. He tells us how he took his chances with both hands.
Taylor wasn't planning on a career as a sports reporter. Far from it. In fact, he was studying law at university when a friend suggested he apply for a holiday job at Channel Nine. 'They get people in for every Commonwealth and Olympic Games to log everything that happens,' he explains. 'Then when the reporters arrive in the morning they can use the clips in their show.'
Fortunately, Taylor wasn't doing anything outside of his uni course at the time, and being an avid sports fan, thought this sounded like the perfect job.
Picked for the team
This holiday job became a full–time reporting job when, a couple of months later he was tipped off that someone had resigned. Having already been told that everyone at Nine was impressed with his attitude, he put a suit on, went in and met Ken Sutcliffe.
For anyone who doesn't know, Ken Sutcliffe was a Channel Nine sports presenter for more than 40 years, until he retired only a few months ago. Taylor got the job, and not only was he allowed to finish his degree, Ken actually insisted on it. From that day on, Taylor split his time equally between Nine and studying until gaining his law degree. It was then he took up sports presenting permanently and began interviewing people.
Game changing moment
It turns out that interviewing can be one of the hardest parts of the job, especially when you have to interview someone just after they've lost.
'The players are so hyped up,' Taylor tells us. 'They're still in that state of primal aggression from the field. I find it's best to be honest, look them in the eye and tell them what they know they've done. Then they can't blow up at you.'
It was one of these emotional after–game moments that actually gave Taylor his big break. Jarryd Hayne had recently had one of the worst games of his career – in game two of State of Origin – but was back playing again in his next club match for the Gold Coast Titans. Hayne certainly bounced back in this game and, in Taylor's words, had an absolute blinder.
'It was a really great moment, like I'd struck gold. I'd been sent to the game because Nine always send junior reporters in case of moments like this, and I got an incredible story. I spoke to him afterwards and he was really generous with his time and answered all my questions. The next morning my boss said it sounded like a good story and that was that. It went to air on the six o'clock bulletin.'
Improving his game
Taylor isn't taking his good fortune for granted though. This year he's been working on improving his writing and voice skills, and been lucky enough to gain advice from the many experienced presenters around him. 'There have been a lot of people at Nine who've mentored me. Ken was really good at that. The only way to get better at anything is repetition. Keep working at it. In fact, the senior journalists here are still working at it.'
From talking to Taylor it's obvious he loves his job and is extremely enthusiastic about his future as a reporter, but we have to ask, as he basically fell into sports presenting by chance, where he envisages his career path eventually taking him.
'I'd like to have a prosperous time as a journalist,' he assures us, 'Then perhaps transfer these skills into being a sports lawyer. Having inside knowledge will hopefully help me resonate with sport people. Alternatively, I'd love to go over to the States one day and report on the NBA.'
We wish Taylor the best of luck, and hope for more great moments next year.