We don’t tend to gloss ourselves around here. We let the work do the talking. But when you have a day like The Fizz did, you have to take a bow. Senior staff writer Drew Carter has won the Jim Nantz Award for best collegiate sportscaster in America, and writers Tyler Aki, Jonathan Hoppe and JD Raucci were also honored. Carter joins former Fizz (’14) standout Kevin Fitzgerald as Nantz winners, so twice in the award’s 11-year history Orange Fizz housed the sportsmedia version of the Heisman Trophy. Four of our staffers were recognized this year by STAA as the brightest in the country. This means the Syracuse coverage our readers get on a daily basis is from the most talented sports media on campuses anywhere in the US.
Carter departs the Fizz after three years of tremendous work in both the written form and the social media space. One of his most popular pieces dove into the liveliness of Dino Babers’ press conferences. “In Syracuse, you can always count on three things: unseasonable and unbearable snow, the Tres Niños order at Dinosaur BBQ, and Dino Babers bringing electricity to every press conference.”
His work on Fizz Radio and National Signing Day FizzCasts was also standout stuff, and Carter’s ability to weave professionalism with a smart sense of humor became his trademark.
Aki received honorable mention by STAA, and leaves The Fizz as one of its most important alum. Aki oversaw Fizz Radio and FizzCasts, hosting, editing, scheduling, and lifting all of our digital audio and terrestrial radio content. Aki was incredible in his proficiency at the Fizz, juggling the audio department with a never-ending stream of written content. He wrote an astounding 372 posts in his three-years at the Fizz. He was also a soothsayer when it came to this year’s basketball national champion.
“We know that stereotype of Virginia basketball: play slow, win with defense and inevitably choke in the tournament. But this year’s Cavaliers team is very different. Are they still slow paced? Yes. Is their defense still elite? You bet. But part three could be very different this March, especially after coming up on the wrong end of the most embarrassing loss in the history of the NCAA Tournament last season.”
Hoppe was a top 15 honoree this year, and his coverage of Orange hoops was sensational this year. He correctly predicted the impact Frank Howard would make in the ACC tourney when so many fans wrote him off. “Howard is a gamer and he’s been down this road before. As you know, the Orange usually kick it into gear when March rolls around. Expect Howard to do the same.”
Raucci finished in the top 20 in the STAA rankings and returns for his senior season and at the Fizz. One of Raucci’s best pieces displayed his natural creativity just a few weeks ago after Tiger’s win at the Masters. He looked at the best SU sports moments within the iconic years of Woods’ golf dominance.
“The Return to Glory. Believe it or not, that’s not what was said when Syracuse football capped its off its first 10-win season since 2001 in December with a win over West Virginia in the Camping World Bowl. It was said, however, when Eldrick Tont Woods sank a bogey putt on the 18th hole at Augusta National to win his fifth green jacket on Sunday.”
Led by Raucci, Tim Leonard and Hoppe, the Fizz’s senior class in ’19 and ’20 will carry the flag proudly. It’s a thrill to see hard work recognized, and national honors for this incredibly talented staff of writers are well deserved. The Fizz continues its 11-year tradition of finding the best young media members anywhere in the country. Notable alums include Mike Couzens (ESPN play-by-play), Craig Hoffman (106.7 The Fan in DC), and Fitzgerald (ESPN play-by-play). You’re getting the best coverage from future stars right here daily on the Fizz.