Algonquin student on his way to becoming sports journalist
By Jeff Slovin, Contributing Writer
Northborough – When Chris Cotillo was a young boy, he used to create hand-written trade reports and Excel spreadsheets to track every Major League Baseball (MLB) transaction. Today the 17-year-old Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) junior has over 3,200 people following his @TradeDeadliner Twitter account where he covers MLB trade news and rumors.
He is also a writer for CLNSRadio.com, where he covers the Red Sox.
Cotillo has been developing his own network of sources within the baseball business. Among his followers he counts around 30 current MLB players, and over 100 minor league and former players. Recently, he broke the story that Vladimir Guerrero, likely a future Hall of Fame member, had signed a deal with the independent-league Long Island Ducks. When Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports confirmed the report and credited Cotillo, his @TradeDeadliner account gained 250 followers within 45 minutes.
“It’s been amazing, and definitely something I never thought would happen when I started the hobby,” Cotillo said.
He has received support and encouragement from both local and nationally known sports writers.
When asked to name some of the writers he admires, he noted, “Peter Gammons, a Hall of Fame sportswriter who is considered a legend in the business, was very nice to me at an event this winter and followed me on Twitter after I introduced myself. Rod Bradford and Alex Speier of WEEI have been very kind to me, and have always given me credit when I report something first as well as tips on how to become a better writer. Buster Olney and Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com have both been very helpful to me as well. Every writer I have encountered has been more than kind to me, and I’ve been able to stay in touch with them through Facebook and Twitter as the season has begun. I’m lucky to have many sources for tips, and hopefully some mentors who know how to succeed in a competitive business.”
Cotillo has had the opportunity to interview a number of baseball veterans this winter, including Theo Epstein, John Farrell, Ben Cherington, and Will Middlebrooks.
He also interviewed Stan Van Gundy, the former Orlando Magic basketball coach, at a conference in March.
“He was a great person to talk to, and gave me great answers on some subjects that I was afraid he was going to avoid. As I interview more people, I’m learning what kinds of questions will get answers and which will irritate the interviewee. For example, [Dallas Mavericks owner] Mark Cuban didn’t like my questions and threatened to leave me mid-interview.”
Cotillo created @TradeDeadliner in 2011, as a way to keep busy during the summer. Growing up, he had always made plans each year to stay home on July 31, the MLB trade deadline date, so he could keep track of all of the moves that were happening throughout the day. (His Twitter account name was inspired by this annual event.) By the summer of 2012, he had gained a significant number of followers on Twitter, and this was a key factor, he said, in his decision to pursue sports journalism as a career. Once he graduates from ARHS, he hopes to attend Boston University or one of the other leading communications schools such as UNC Chapel Hill, Northwestern or University of Maryland.
School and sports journalism consume all of his time right now, and there’s not much time left for other interests.
“I love how every potential story provides a new opportunity for me to grow as a writer and reporter,” he said.
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