The Purchase College Draft

Siedman (left) and Oliva weigh their options.

Siedman (left) and Oliva weigh their options.

So during my three years teaching journalism at Manhattanville College, I came up with The Draft—the big final project of the semester.

In short, I would rope in a bunch of noteworthy (this word can mean myriad things) people I know to be profiled by my students. Then I’d show up in class, write numbers 1-through-whatever on little pieces of paper, ball them up and put them in a baseball cap. The hat would be passed around the classroom, with each student blindly picking. The person with No. 1 got the first selection, and could look through the files on the different personalities (I printed out abridged portfolios) and pick who he/she would like to profile for the final paper. Then No. 2 pick, No. 3, No. 4 … on and on.

After a while, students taking my class knew of The Draft from classmates. It remained a joy, but the suspense was gone (These are past drafts. Here, here and here)

Then I left for Purchase College …

During last Thursday’s class, I told my students that we’d be assigning final projects the following week. None knew whereof I spoke, but they largely assumed it’d be some sort of paper related to Purchase College athletics. When I told them of The Draft, they seemed largely euphoric. Which made my day.

As always, the assignment is a 2,000-word feature, due in three weeks. I demand excellent reporting, multiple sources and inventive writing. I offer eager assistance and what has to be the quirkiest-cool final paper in academia.

Here’s how today’s draft went down …

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 12.53.27 AM1. Kevin Boss, former New York Giants tight end: As soon as Kevin agreed to partake, I thought he had a shot to go first. Why? Because we’re in Giants country, and lots of my students were in high school when he was winning a Super Bowl in 2008. Johnny Schifano—huge sports fan, cool dude—immediately plucked Boss. Hard to argue with the selection.

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 12.53.54 AM2. Dave Sims, Seattle Mariners play-by-play announcer: Not gonna lie—a shocker from Stefan Oliva, one of my top students. Dave is wonderful and cool and will make a great profile. But—based on his 40 time, as well as the dominance of all things ESPN—I had Dave pegged as a mid-rounder, after Trey Wingo. Will we be talking of this one as we do Andrew Luck-RGIII? Only time will tell …

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 12.54.11 AM3. Tommy Dreamer, wrestling star: Most scouts had Tommy—a veteran star who spent years on the WWE and ECW circuits—going either first or second, so this was a minor surprise—and a steal for Jonathan Siedman. I actually see Tommy (a wonderfully cool dude) most days at our kids’ elementary school, but worry if I tell him he went third he might kill me. So, ahem, he went first!

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 12.54.33 AM4. Quadeer Shakur, Zulu Nation Minister of Information: Not gonna lie … didn’t see this coming. Quadeer is a cool guy, with a wealth of knowledge and history. Yet the guy with the fourth pick, Matt Brandon, shows up most days either wearing a Red Sox or Dodgers hat. I thought Jack McDowell was an easy pick here. Surprises … surprises.

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 12.54.51 AM5. Trey Wingo, ESPN broadcaster: In all my years of holding the draft, I’ve never experienced such a blockbuster trade. The fifth pick originally belonged to Joe (Don’t Call Me Mike) Krzyzewski, a mellow kid with some serious musical chops. Alejando Carballo was glumly sitting at No. 12, knowing Wingo—one of his favorites—wouldn’t fall that far. Hence, he offered the twelfth selection and a bag of salt-and-vinegar potato chips to Joe. “I probably wouldn’t have done it,” Krzyzewski, “but salt and vinegar … mmmm.” The league approved the transaction, and Carballo nabbed Wingo.

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 12.55.22 AM6. Steve Trachsel, former Major League pitcher: Thought Steve could go anywhere from fourth to 15th, depending on how much pull his time with the Mets might have. Alas, Casey Donnelly, the pride of Brewster, N.Y., has an Uncle Gene who loves the Mets. The Human Rain Delay finds a home …


Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 12.55.40 AM7. Lennie Friedman, former NFL offensive lineman: First Jewish Sports Hall of Fame inductee to be included in The Draft. Lennie seemed surprised when I asked him to partake; Tom Mansmann seemed happy he was available at seven.



Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 12.55.57 AM8. Erin Stern, Ms Figure Olympia: Bright side—Erin is awesome, and Rachel Hepworth nabbed a winner. Down side—couldn’t get a couple of students to stop looking at her photos. Such is life.



Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 12.56.11 AM9. Todd Parr, children’s book author: I had no clue where Todd would go. On the one hand, he’s sold more than 2 million books. On the other hand, why do 19-year-olds care about THIS IS MY HAIR? Keyon (Not Related to Jim) Plunkett makes a great pick here. Todd’s saga is a worthy one to tell.


Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 12.56.27 AM10. Melissa Stockwell, war hero/paralympian: Stockwell lost a leg in Iraq while serving in the military, returns home and becomes an amazing athlete. It’s the sort of saga one dreams of writing about. Steal at No. 10 for Andre Nixon, who wisely ignored post-draft trade requests.


Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 12.56.45 AM11. Bowen Kerins, pinball superstar: Bowen is one of the world’s two or three greatest pinball players. Whenever you have a chance to profile someone this elite, you take it. David Choo will do wonders with this.



Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 12.57.36 AM12. Michael Eisenstein, guitarist: Joe digs potato chips, but the true reason he moved down is because he wisely figured Eisenstein—Melissa Etheridge’s guitarist, former Letters to Cleo member—would be here. Perfect writer-subject union. I have high expectations for the highest drafted guitarist since Kiss’ Bruce Kulick.


Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 12.57.55 AM13. Jack McDowell, Cy Young Award winner: Would have never predicted Trachsel to go before Blackjack—one of the best pitchers of his generation (and an awesome Facebook friend). Robert Blount takes advantage of McDowell’s plunge to land Top 5 value at No. 13.


Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 12.58.12 AM14. Jonatha Brooke, singer/songwriter: Probably would have been my No. 1 selection, because I love pretty much every tune to emerge from her mouth. Class, however, isn’t particularly musical. So Joe Bennett finds himself a star.



Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 12.58.34 AM15. Dirk Hayhurst, former MLB pitcher/author: Funny, smart, creative, wise, wacky. Hayhurst has top-of-the-draft stuff, but somehow fell to 15. Elan Trischitta, Purchase College outfielder, lucks out.



Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 1.07.10 AM16. Brittany Jenell, Detroit Pride cheerleader: Were the lovely Brittany a Jet or Giant cheerleader, she’s Top 5. Not much Motown love here. Tommy Roach should enjoy this one.



From left to right: Johnny (owner of the first pick), Alejandro (Wingo Fan) and Joe (potato chip lover) take in the grandness of The Draft.

From left to right: Johnny (owner of the first pick), Alejandro (Wingo Fan) and Joe (potato chip lover) take in the grandness of The Draft.

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