Tom Bragg: What’s next? TWIWVS

Texas at WVU, 2019 (photo by Tom Bragg/TWIWVS)

Losing my job, even with a “temporary” (with no end in sight) tag, sucked.

Covering major college sports for the Charleston newspaper was a job I wanted since I was a kid and for two football seasons and two basketball seasons I got to be the beat writer following the Mountain State’s beloved West Virginia Mountaineers around the country. Before that, for the better part of a decade, I did every sports job there was to do at the state’s largest newspaper — answering phones, taking box scores, editing copy, producing and hosting podcasts, website management, designing front pages and special sections as well as covering nearly every sport at every level the state of West Virginia has to offer.

Let’s call this “Gamer on Deadline Face”

Not getting to do that anymore, even with the current state of the world wiping out most sports (and a lot of sports media jobs like the one I lost), feels weird. A lot of very kind people reached out in the days and weeks after I was let go, and almost all of them asked what I planned to do next. The honest answer at the time was I had no idea. There was (and still is, but I doubt it) the possibility the Gazette-Mail calls to offer my old job back and the process of filing for unemployment in West Virginia is a daily grind.

Days turned into weeks. Unemployment and social isolation due to the coronavirus have made it so there is a lot of free time on my hands. I’m single with no children (or ex-wives), so my days have been full of long walks around my neighborhood with the dog and more than a few hours spent with a video game controller in my hands. I have tried observing what is going on with sports around the state from afar, but it just doesn’t scratch that itch. I put a feeler out on Twitter a few weeks ago asking if people would be interested in possibly paying a small amount for sports content I create, and I felt pretty good about the feedback. After kicking around some ideas for how exactly I wanted to proceed, This Week in West Virginia Sports was born.

Some content will be available for free. There will be a weekly TWIWS podcast available for free (and hopefully widely available on most podcast services — I will keep you updated on that). Sometimes, though probably not very often, I will post a column here free of charge.

For those of you willing to chip in a few dollars, I will also be creating exclusive content on Patreon. The plan for now is to have three tiers of donations for TWIWVS content — $3 per month gets your foot in the door with access to my weekly newsletter and $5 per month gets you that plus access to exclusive audio content a few times each month that will not be available anywhere else. For $8 per month you get everything from the first two tiers plus I will take time during our free podcasts to read pretty much any message you want to get out there (within reason) and answer any questions you might have.

TWIWVS is going to attempt to cover everything worth covering when it comes to sports in West Virginia. That means a heavy dose of the Mountaineers and Marshall as well as the big stories in high school sports and beyond. My days as a full-time sports writer might be over forever, but I think I can still produce content worth a few of your hard-earned dollars each month. I’m not sure exactly where TWIWVS will go in the coming weeks and months, but if you follow along and love sports in West Virginia I think you’ll find it is worth it to chip in and keep this project alive.

The first TWIWVS newsletter will go out to Patreon subscribers on Monday, May 4 and the first free TWIWVS podcast is planned for next week as well (stay tuned for more specifics on podcasts).

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