Manitoba

Writing for fantasy football fans a dream come true for Winnipeg high school student

A Winnipeg high school student is taking a week off school and chasing his dream - all the way to Alabama, where he'll cover one of the NFL’s biggest draft events.

Carter Donnick, 16, will head to Alabama on Sunday to cover one of football's biggest draft events

Carter Donnikc, 16, began writing for American fantasy football website Dynasty Football Factory a year ago. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

A Winnipeg high school student and football fan is taking a week off school to chase his dream — all the way to Alabama.

Carter Donnick, a Grade 11 student at Fort Richmond Collegiate, is heading to the Reese's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Sunday to get his eyes on up-and-coming football prospects, and share his opinions with the sports world.

"Ever since I was young I've kind of had a passion for sports, and specifically football, and over the last couple of years that's developed into writing about sports and voicing my own opinions on the subject," said Donnick.

The bowl is a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) all-star college football exhibition game, and showcases prospects for the National Football League draft — making the bowl an important event for NFL coaches and scouts looking for future pros.

Among those coaches and scouts will be Winnipeg's Donnick, 16, who has already had more than a dozen of his articles published on the Las Vegas-based website Dynasty Football Factory — a fantasy football site that shares news about players, evaluations and analysis.

"When most people are watching Netflix or playing Xbox, I'm going straight up to my room watching unknown film on a running back from North Carolina A&T [State University]," said Donnick.

Donnick spends much of his free time going over player highlight video he finds online. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

The teen has over 2,000 followers on Twitter and his posts on Dynasty Football Factory get an average of about 1,300 views per article — with one garnering over 4,000 views. He's also been a guest on one of the site's most popular podcasts.

Up until about a year ago, writing about football was just a hobby for Donnick — but then he realized others might want to read what he had to say.

"I finally thought, hey, I see all these guys on Twitter, like these guys I look up to, doing all this stuff. Why can't that be me?" he said.

Donnick submitted his work to Dynasty Football Factory and made the cut.

The site's owner, Michael Goins, said he didn't know Donnick's age at the time — but once he became aware and Donnick joined the team, it took a little convincing for his colleagues to get on board.

"We had a discussion about it and they said, 'What are you thinking?'" Goins told CBC over the phone from Las Vegas.

"And I said, 'Listen guys, you're gonna be blown away,'" said Goins.

"This young man doesn't just possess the passion that is required as a prerequisite to dive into this community, but he's got a pretty well-rounded sense of knowledge, and he's got a fever for wanting to be a part of this community."

'Why can't I go now?'

Next week, Donnick will share his take on some of the top college football players in the U.S. while he takes in events at the Senior Bowl — mostly from the sidelines, because he's too young to qualify for an official press pass.

Donnick got the idea to attend the bowl after hearing from others in the football community that it'd be a good opportunity to see players up close and learn the ropes of covering scouting events.

"I've always kind of thought about it, but I've always kind of thought 'when I'm older' type of thing. But then when these guys finally said it, I clicked [and thought], well, why can't I go now?"

Fort Richmond Collegiate vice-principal Jon Manness said the school agreed to accomodate Donnick's time off from school so that he could pursue his passion. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

Donnick arranged the trip with his dad and the pair are heading down to Alabama for the week.

Fort Richmond Collegiate vice-principal Jon Manness said even though Donnick will be missing exam week, the school felt it was important to support the teen's endeavour.

"He's an excellent student but he's also following his passion on his own time and putting in the hours upon hours upon hours into work on this, and balancing that with school and being involved in sports," said Manness.

"Hopefully other students see that and and maybe start to follow their own passions or dreams."

'A head start'

While Donnick doesn't earn any money for his articles — yet — Goins said having his work published and viewed will only open doors for the young writer.

"It's been an absolute pleasure to see Carter evolve the way he has," Goins said. "The world is his oyster and I look for big things from him in the future."

Donnick is hoping to gain valuable experience and network with other sports journalists at the event, "just to be able to pick some of their brains on how they've been able to develop their sports journalism career."

Donnck says he hopes to gain valuable writing experience and learn from other sports writers who attend the event. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

Donnick said he's still considering his career path, but sports journalism is definitely on the list. He hopes by getting an early start, he'll have a leg up on the competition when he gets to college.

"It's pretty cool," he said.

"To be able to go there right now and kind of get a head start on this type of thing is an amazing experience."

Carter Donnick, 16, will head to Alabama on Sunday to cover one of football's biggest draft events 2:21

About the Author

Holly Caruk

Video Journalist

Holly Caruk is a video journalist with CBC Manitoba. She began her career as a photo journalist in 2007 and began reporting in 2015. Born and raised in Manitoba, Holly is a graduate of the University of Manitoba's film studies program and Red River College's creative communications program. Email: holly.caruk@cbc.ca

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