The Chi-Side provides opportunity for young sports journalists to stay in the game

By Yousef Nasser
Medill Reports

The Chi-Side was credentialed to cover the eighth annual Chicago Elite Classic, giving young journalists their first taste of covering high school basketball.

Developed by social media professional Evan Marshall along with sports broadcasters Brooke Weisbrod and Camron Smith, the Chi-Side identifies itself as an intersection of basketball and culture in the city of Chicago. The Chi-Side aims to give creative young kids from the ages of nine to 19 an opportunity to learn the craft of covering sports alongside experienced sportscasters like Weisbrod and Smith.

Weisbrod, a former college basketball player at Coastal Carolina who now works for ESPN, says one of the reasons she felt compelled to help launch Chi-Side is because she wants to show kids that there is a future after their playing careers are over.

“I broadcast because I got hurt at twenty-one, so my career got cut really short and for a couple years, I felt really lost and I didn’t feel like I had an identity anymore. You’re so used to people engaging you about, ‘Hey, what about your last game?’ and how you played, then all of a sudden, it’s like nobody cares. Going back to why I love the game, it’s just being around it, and I want somebody else to experience that too,” Weisbrod said.

According to Smith, a former athlete who has worked as a sports broadcaster for the past twelve years, the most rewarding aspect of working with Chi-Side is when he sees a young kid overcome their shyness to ask an interview question.

“I’ve been involved with some high profile games, and won some big-time championships, but I get more satisfaction and more fulfillment from seeing kids come out of their shell and just step into who they naturally should be,” Smith said.

The Chi-Side currently exists as an Instagram account that delivers Chicago basketball and culture-related content to users through posts and Instagram Stories. Moving forward, Smith has greater visions for what the Chi-Side can become.

“Going forward, what I see the Chi-Side as, I think it’s going to be a hub for a lot of kids where if they want to be involved in sports media, they can come to the Chi-Side and be able to get that training,” Smith said.

Photo at top: A Chi-Side mentee asks an interview question to a high school athlete at the podium. (Yousef Nasser/MEDILL)