Inverness native reflects on sports writing career

01/11/2018

As the son of a doctor, Garrett Whitt learned from his father how to detach from his emotions and remain objective, as in when delivering unfortunate news. Mr. Whitt’s career in sports journalism has been marked by the same approach. Even if his home team lost by 40 points, he was going to be honest. “The biggest thing my dad taught me was to be removed in the situation and to take the sideline view,” he said. “You’re always a fan, but the biggest compliment you can get is that you wrote it right down the middle.” Since meeting former Light publisher Dave Mitchell at the Point Reyes Station barber shop and scoring his first column covering little league at age 7, Mr. Whitt has kept his reports both detailed and even-keeled. “When writing, the best thing you can do is to give insight. Not only into the game, but in little nuggets that might be missed,” he said. “If I can find one or two nuggets, such as mentioning a kid’s birthday, and tell somebody something they didn’t know, that’s great for me.” Mr. Whitt’s career thus far is indexed in his new book, “Old School: Building a Life Through Sport,” which he self-published last month. The collection includes essays, commentaries, interviews and articles dating back to 1993, when he began covering high school sports for the Light following his graduation from journalism school at the University of Southern California. He covered West Marin sports for seven years before becoming the sports editor at the St. Helena Star in 2000. While in West Marin, he’d often delve into the human side of his beat. He wrote a detailed feature on the Halleck Creek Riding Club and followed the formation of Love Field. He broke the story on the hiring of coach Leon Feliciano, who went on to create a powerhouse football program for the Tomales High School Braves. Mr. Whitt was born with cerebral palsy, which he said led him to ask deeper questions of coaches and players. “Old School” is dedicated to his mother, Barbara, who passed away last summer, and his father, Michael. They instilled in him not only a sense of independence but an appreciation for tradition. “Change is inevitable, but it’s nice to know that some things stay the same,” he said. “Sports are a vehicle that connects us. You can be a journalist and do your job, but you can still relate to people and connect. That’s a benefit of the job. When you’re [covering] high school sports, which I did in Point Reyes for years, several of those kids became friends of mine. I’ve seen them get married and now they have kids. And I tease them that if I’m around long enough, I’ll cover their kids, too!” “Old School: Building a Life Through Sport” is available at Main Street Books in St. Helena and possibly, in the future, from Point Reyes Books.