Future stars in journalism often take the junior college route, just like athletes.
Joe Stiglich, the A’s Insider for CSN Bay Area, is living proof of that.
Back in 1994, Stiglich was the Sports Editor for The Inquirer, DVC’s student-run newspaper. He was part of a journalism dream team that also boasted fellow future Contra Costa Times writers Tony Hicks, Curtis Pashelka and Karl Fischer.
Sports writing fit Stiglich’s personality, well, like a glove.
“Writing for The Inquirer, I just kind of got consumed by it and I really just loved it,” Stiglich recalled recently during a break from A’s spring training. “Back at that time there was a core group of five or six of us that were editors of all the different sections of the paper, and we all became tight and spent a lot of time in the newsroom there.”
The impressive group moved through the journalism ranks together.
Hicks currently covers pop culture and film for Bay Area News Group, and Pashelka mans the San Jose Sharks beat. Fischer, a staff writer for the West County Times from 2002 to 2012, works in community and media relations for Contra Costa Health Services.
Stiglich's writing career continued to blossom after DVC. He wrote for Cal’s The Daily Californian newspaper for 2½ years when he chronicled the Bears’ football march to the Aloha Bowl under coach Steve Mariucci; and the men’s basketball team’s surprising run to the “Sweet 16” in 1996-97 under coach Ben Braun.
Back then, he absorbed the craft working alongside Cal beat writers from the Oakland Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and the Contra Costa Times.
“It was really cool,” Stiglich, 42, recalled of the experience. “I knew by then that was the direction I wanted to go to in my career.”
After graduate school, Stiglich was hired as a sports writer for the Times -- another exciting time in which he covered De La Salle football during its remarkable 151-game winning streak from 2001-03. He finally landed the newspaper's A’s beat for the 2007 season.
After leaving the newspaper, Stiglich basically hit a home run landing The A’s Insider gig in 2014. His high-profile job is composed of about 75 percent writing and 25 percent TV reporting.
“I had no idea back at DVC that I’d ever want to get into the TV side of things, but it’s just kind of the way my career path took me,” he says. “I’m really enjoying that part of it.”
During his childhood Stiglich, a former three-sport athlete at Antioch High through his sophomore year, wanted to emulate sports writers even more than sports announcers.
“Scott Ostler and Tim Keown from the Chronicle were the guys I really admired,” he said, adding “that I was always a fan of Bob Costas.”
Back in his DVC days, Stiglich’s serious-minded approach earned the respect of his fellow young journalists.
Pashelka looks back fondly on his Inquirer days with his friend, Stiglich.
“One of the people I learned a lot from was Joe, even though he's about three years younger than me,” Pashelka recalled. “He was the paper's sports editor at the time and got along with everyone there. We didn't talk with each other a whole lot to start off with, but he was a guy I realized right away was very organized -- perhaps not my strong suit.
"He was also talented as a writer as he covered football, basketball, and baseball for the paper. Always doing things the right way. Leading by example," Pashelka added.
Likewise, DVC men’s basketball coach Steve Coccimiglio, the college’s athletic director at the time, was impressed with Stiglich's professional mindset. The two developed a healthy mutual respect.
“Steve was really the first guy I interviewed trying to take notes, take quotes and use those quotes in a story,” Stiglich recalled. “He was great. He was generous with his time, really patient, and really worked well with me.”
Stiglich's career plans began to crystallize in those impressionable days.
“I kind of learned the fundamentals of news and sports reporting and just learning what a beat really was,” he says, “and how it was important to get to know the people on your beat and build sources, build relationships. It really started there at DVC. We were a school paper, but we tried to cover it as much like a professional paper as we could."
Stiglich also credits his two former DVC advisers, Barbara Sawyer and Jean Dickinson, as being “great teachers and great mentors.” He fondly recalls those late Wednesday nights at DVC putting the paper together for Friday distribution.
“To do that, you all have to love it,” Stiglich says happily. “We were ordering pizza at night and having dinner and staying there. We worked our butts off, but we enjoyed being around each other and laughing a lot too.”
Now he's thriving on CSN Bay Area, showing that it's more than just the athletes who find their path in community college sports. The folks taking notes on the sideline do too.
-- Matt Schwab