EDC welcomes new sports reporter
Though fresh out of college, Isaac Avilucea is already an experienced, award-winning journalist.
Avilucea, 22, who graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of New Mexico this summer, cut his teeth with the college newspaper, the New Mexico Daily Lobo.
“I started off as a freelancer and worked my way up to sports editor and then managing editor,” he said.
Though a college newspaper, the Daily Lobo is a member of the New Mexico Press Association, and as a daily with a circulation of more than 10,000, it was in the same division as the big newspapers in the state, like the Albuquerque Journal, Santa Fe New Mexican and Farmington Daily Times, in the NMPA-Associated Press Managing Editors Newspaper Contest. It was in that contest that Avilucea won two awards — one for headline writing and one for sports columns — a rare feat for a college reporter.
Avilucea is most proud of the award for sports columns.
“It was pretty nice. I beat out Toby Smith right before he retired,” he said of the former Albuquerque Journal feature writer and author of seven books, who Avilucea deeply respects and admires.
It was another contest that got Avilucea interested in writing in the first place.
“To be honest, I was like every other high school senior and didn’t know what I wanted to do,” said the Cibola High School graduate. “I entered a national essay contest and that piqued my interest in writing in general.”
It also got him published for the first time. His essay on the cultural mix of his hometown of Albuquerque is printed in a book called “Authors of Tomorrow” by Elder & Leemaur Publishers.
He was pushed more toward a career as a writer after he got to college. An English teacher was so impressed with his work that she suggested he look into writing for the Daily Lobo. He did, and remembers his first story was a feature on a softball pitcher.
“That got my feet wet in journalism and it went from there,” he said.
Avilucea graduated to covering bigger stories. He made a bit of a name for himself with a story that got nationwide attention involving UNM football coach Mike Locksley allegedly taking a swing at assistant coach J.B. Gerald during a coaches meeting. Gerald ended up filing a lawsuit against Locksley and UNM’s Board of Regents. The local media couldn’t get Gerald to talk, but Avilucea did.
“The only one to beat me to the punch was ESPN, but I had the first interview with him by anyone from the local press,” he said. “It was a good story for a fledging journalist to jump into.”
Avilucea said he most likes to write in-depth and feature stories — and, of course, columns. He hopes El Defensor Chieftain readers will find his coverage of sports in the area informative and entertaining.
“I want to juice up the sports section and make it something people will want to pick up and read every day,” he said.