Williams College’s Darren Hartwell can cover just about anyone in sports, but defenders have a difficult time covering him.
A native of North Reading, Mass., Hartwell has spent his career at Williams juggling two sports – football and baseball – and working for the college’s sports information department as a writer in the offseason.
Hartwell had written game reports about his baseball team for his local newspaper during high school. At the beginning of his sophomore year at Williams, he attended a meeting with the school’s Sports Information Director, Dick Quinn, who was looking for students to help cover the Ephs’ 30 varsity sports for the athletics website.
Since he could only cover a sport during the winter because of commitments with football and baseball, Hartwell asked Quinn if men’s hockey was open.
“I told him to get into his season and see if he was still interested,” Quinn said. “In his second game, he tied the school record with three touchdown catches in a win over Trinity. I walked up to him and said, ‘You’re hired.’ ”
Quinn was impressed with Hartwell’s first hockey story and his understanding of the nuances of the game.
“After I read his first story, I asked him if he’d played hockey before and he had not, but he really had a grasp for the game,” Quinn said. “It was a very good article. He continued to do well.”
Hartwell’s part-time job writing about the Ephs’ men’s hockey teams not only brought in a little extra cash, but also led to some experiences of a lifetime for the cub reporter.
A life-long Boston Red Sox fan, Hartwell jumped at an opportunity to work with Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston, covering the team at Fenway Park after being recommended by Quinn for the position.
“Dick asked me if I wanted to work at Red Sox games, but he wouldn’t tell me what it was doing,” Hartwell said.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking the first time I went into a professional sports locker room on my first day with the Red Sox,” Hartwell said. “I’d grown up watching these guys. But it was also interesting, as an athlete, to be on the other side of the fence. That was a cool experience for me.”
One of Hartwell’s most memorable moments was interviewing New York Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia before a crowd of reporters in the visiting team clubhouse for a game preview that ended up on the front of ESPN.com’s Major League Baseball page.
“[The job] was a great experience,” Hartwell said. “It became a lot more than I thought it would – I thought it would just be getting quotes and transcribing them. They let me write articles and I really enjoyed that.”
In the winter of his junior year, Hartwell interned again for ESPNBoston, this time covering the NHL’s Boston Bruins and getting credit for an independent study.
Last summer, he was a fellow at X-Mester – a program that indoctrinates high school students to college life – and taught a sports journalism class. He followed that by working for the New England Patriots during preseason camp, writing articles for Patriots Football Weekly and blog posts for Patriots.com.
“My favorite was working with the Patriots because I had never been to one of their games or practices,” Hartwell said. “To see professional football up close, it’s pretty amazing to see how good those guys are.”
Hartwell, a History major, enjoys sports writing, but is still undecided on whether he will pursue it as a career.
“I’m still not 100 percent on what I want to do, but I have had a lot of fun doing it so I’m definitely the exploring options,” Hartwell said. “I would really like to work in sports …whether it is in the press box, or with an organization or writing for someone.”
While he has written about several famous professional athletes, Hartwell has also made a name for himself as one of the top wide receivers in Division III’s New England Small College Athletic Conference.
Hartwell has earned All-NESCAC honors in each of the last two seasons, combining for 85 receptions for 1,368 yards and 16 touchdown catches in 16 games as Williams plays only eight games a year.
“In the last three years, Darren has been one of the most dynamic players not only on our team, but in our conference,” Williams coach Aaron Kelton said. “He’s a long, lean kid who has speed and agility, and has come into his own over the last couple of years with his ability to get open and catch balls and touchdowns and run by people.”
This year, Hartwell was voted a tri-captain by his teammates and coaches.
“He leads by example,” Kelton said. “He’s tremendous around campus, and he leads on the field not only by his play, but helps lift the guys vocally, too. Everything he gets his hands on really seems to turn to gold for him.”
Williams opened the season on Sept. 22 with a 41-7 victory against Colby and Hartwell didn’t miss a beat, catching eight passes for 92 yards and two TDs. He also tied the school’s career touchdown receptions record at 18.
“We don’t play for records here, but it was a tremendous honor to be able to share that on Saturday with him,” Kelton said.
Hartwell, who could break the mark against Trinity (Conn.), is not concerned with the statistics — he just wants an Ephs’ victory.
“Last year, we finished 5-3, but we were 8-0 the year before that,” Hartwell said. “I’m looking to getting back to that 8-0 record, and finishing my career strong. I’d really like to go out on top.”
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