As a sports writer for a student-run newspaper at a high school featuring a nationally ranked basketball team and other perennial state power athletics programs, Anthony Colucci has unlimited opportunities to break news and develop a readership.
The St. Joseph sophomore, who serves as a regular contributor to and associate editor of the high school’s newspaper, has scooped mainstream media outlets on several occasions, including being the first to report in November that classmate Nick Krimin received a Rutgers University football scholarship offer.
Colucci, of Bridgewater, has taken his reporting from the pages of The Falcon to social media, using Twitter (@_anthonycolucci) to break news and his basketball blog (coluchfromthecourt.wordpress.com) to write game stories on deadline.
The professionalism with which Colucci conducts himself has generated respect from players and coaches at the high school, while his reporting — including live updates from football, basketball and baseball games — has enabled his Twitter following to grow.
“This isn’t something that you could do at most schools,” Colucci said, noting St. Joseph’s success on the playing field coupled with a significant fan following makes reporting about the Falcons marketable.
“My Twitter has been exploding with new followers. I just try to keep all the students and fans connected to what’s going on at St. Joe’s. Everyone wants to know what’s going on with Karl Towns (McDonald’s All-American basketball player), Matt Olivo (Home News Tribune Football Player of the Year) and Brandon Bielak (headed to the University of Notre Dame on a full baseball scholarship). I feel there is such a big audience.”
After playing freshman baseball for St. Joseph last spring, Colucci decided he wanted to focus all of his energies on journalism, so he traded his bat and glove for a tape recorder and notebook, succeeding 2013 graduate Alex Schiffer as the Metuchen-based parochial school’s latest sports writing prodigy.
“He came in after ‘Schiff’ left and he did an excellent job his first year,” St. Joseph basketball star Marques Townes said of Colucci. “He knew what he was doing and he just put himself out there. I feel like he’s going to do a great job throughout the rest of his years there.”
Colucci credits Schiffer, now a freshman at the prestigious University of Missouri School of Journalism, and another St. Joseph alumnus, John Nolan, a Syracuse University graduate who is currently the play-by-play broadcaster for a San Diego Padres minor-league affiliate, with being journalism trailblazers at his high school.
“It’s definitely been a big help having John and Alex supporting me and helping me become the best writer or reporter I can be,” Colucci said. “I definitely want to make a career out of this. I plan on attending a very prestigious communication school and from there moving to a good job.”
Colucci was recently named web editor for The Falcon, which is slated to begin running online early next month.
He currently serves as manager for the St. Joseph baseball squad, keeping the scorebook, tweeting in-game updates and providing head coach Steve Bucchignano with scouting reports on opponents.
“He’s like having another coach in the dugout,” Bucchignano said. “The kids respect him and they respect what he does. He truly carries himself like a person that’s been in the business for many years. Anthony is like a student Sports Information Director. He’s incredible. The information that he gives me prior to games is awesome.”
Colucci was nominated for and recently accepted an invitation to attend the prestigious Washington Journalism and Media Conference, which will take place at George Mason University in July.
“The week-long program will encourage and inspire young leaders from across the country who desire a unique experience focused on the future of this dynamic industry,” reads a synopsis of the event on the university’s website. “With its distinguished list of faculty, guest speakers, and direct access to the political scene of D.C., the conference is the place to be for aspiring journalists.”
Colucci has become almost as much of a household name as some of St. Joseph’s brightest sports stars. His Twitter followers include classmates, faculty, student-athletes and coaches from opposing schools, alumni, college basketball and football fans and media from across the state.
“With the school having such great athletics, he can write about different things almost every day,” St. Joseph principal John Anderson said. “People are not afraid to talk to him or approach him for some idea for a story. He understands it’s a two-way relationship. He wants to make sure he gets his info correct. He does things for the right reasons. That’s why he’s so good.”
Earlier this week, Colucci tweeted “Villanova, Cincinnati, Rutgers, West Virginia and Seton Hall were in to see St. Joe’s 2016 Breein Tyree @Breety5 today,” breaking news about the recruitment of a rising star on St. Joseph’s reigning Tournament of Champions-winning basketball team.
“He doesn’t cross the line by saying anything that insults any other athlete,” St. Joseph athletics director Jerry Smith said of Colucci’s social media etiquette. “You get the feeling that this is more to him than just reporting. This is something that he really believes in. When you love doing what you do, you do a much better job.”
Colucci began writing as early as a second-grader and started his own sports blog four years later. He began reporting for The Falcon and freelancing for some other publications last year.
A tweet from Schiffer at the end of last summer motivated Colucci to succeed his highly respected predecessor.
“I don’t think I’d be doing this without Alex,” he said. “He made it seem so possible. The night before he was leaving for Missouri, he tweeted something … that someone has to step up.
“I really felt like that was my calling.”