2 years ago, I met Mark at WOOD TV 8. We were both interns, and we became friends at a community event when I saw him struggling to tie balloons [due to a pair of giant thumbs]. As I helped Mark knot his balloons, we chattered about why we had applied to intern for a TV station. It was then that Mark disclosed that he was my dad’s intern and explained that he wanted to be a Sports Anchor.
The first time I heard Mark’s career goals, I smiled and nodded. It wasn’t the first time someone had told me they wanted to become a Sports Broadcaster, and I sort of assumed that (like most), this was a temporary career goal that seemed fun but would take a backseat to more practical or attainable career options.
But that was before I really knew Mark Pearson.
Throughout our internship, I was presently surprised by Mark’s natural gift for his desired career path. One day, a camera came around to interview the interns; while most of us fumbled over some of our words or overused filler phrases (“like,” “um”), he was personable, warm, entertaining, and concise.
By the end of our internship, I knew that he was going to do big things; I knew he would attain the career he had told me he wanted—the kid was built to be a Sports Anchor.
But there’s something different about Mark which renders far more celebration than his natural talent on air or his vast sports knowledge-
when the cameras turn off, he’s just as incredible.
There are a lot of people who can turn on the charm for a camera or raise ratings. There are a lot of people who chase careers in television for the perks of the job. And then there’s Mark.
Mark is the kind of person chose his career path because he cares about people and he loves to learn and tell their stories. He is someone who asks good questions and genuinely listens to the answers. He is someone who cares more about sharing stories than he cares about being on TV.
He is not chasing fame. He is not seeking the spotlight; he is a person who wants nothing more than to inspire others by sharing the stories of athletes. He sees beyond the helmet, behind the face-mask, beyond the superstardom of the players.
He sees the years of hard work that these athletes invested and the families that back them. He lives for the moments Miggy tosses a pair of batting gloves to a child fan even more than he enjoys celebrating one of his homers.
This is why even it’s so easy to celebrate Mark’s new job, despite the states and miles and hours it temporarily places between us: Mark has combined his gift for connecting with others, his love for the game, and his desire to inspire others by showing the stories of courage and optimism that often take a backseat to our knowledge of an athlete’s payroll.
On the last day of Mark’s internship at WOOD TV, I shook his hand and told him, “You’re going to do big things.” This morning, Mark & I shared a teary hug as he left for the airport, and I recited the same phrase.
“You’re going to do big things.”
These “big things” have nothing to do
with his gradual increase of Twitter followers since the station announced his hire. These “big things” have nothing to do with the status of the athletes he will interview. These Big Things have everything to do with a person who has worked so hard to achieve his dreams, and done so with integrity and optimism. These Big Things have everything to do with a person who is using his gifts & his passions to make the world a better place.
Cheers to Mark. Cheers to his next adventure. Cheers to WDAZ for making the greatest hire possible (though I may be biased). And Cheers to big things.