Beyond the byline: Stories are about sharing messages says longtime sportswriter Catherine GarrettAug 02, 2022 10:39AM ● By Greg James
By Greg James | [email protected]
Editor’s note: this series highlights the writers behind the stories found here each month.
In September 2004, Catherine Garrett took a job covering sports for what was then known as Valley Journals. She continues to this day as the voice for sports in Draper and Davis County.
“I love it. I am coming up on 18 years,” Garrett said. “For me, this is a hobby and it needs to stay in its proper place. I don’t have to do it. I just don’t want it to take away from my family.”
Garrett grew up wanting to be a sports broadcaster so when she began attending BYU in 1992, she never looked back from that desire. She started working in the BYU Women’s Athletics Department and within a couple of years an opportunity to be a play-by-play announcer for men’s and women’s volleyball, women’s basketball and women’s gymnastics broadcasts for Provo Cable Channel 17 came about.
“The field wasn’t exactly loaded with women at the time, but it was a dream come true for me,” she said. “Even though it wasn’t ESPN, being on TV had been my goal. I had done it. It was still within the dream. It was the old days and I still have VHS tapes to prove it, although I don’t have a VCR to even play them on.”
In 1996, she returned from a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission to Toronto, Canada, got married the next year and finished her degree at BYU in sports broadcasting in 1998.
“I realized quickly that this career route was not very conducive to me having a family so I had kind of resigned myself to having achieved all that I could behind a microphone and I was OK with that,” she said. “I did continue some background work at home with BYU for five more years.”
In 2004, her neighbor, who wrote for the Valley Journals, encouraged her to try sports writing. “What I discovered was that I had a love for communicating about sports and it became apparent that I could do that with a microphone or a pen,” she said.
The Journals asked her to cover a city beat to start. Her first beat was Cottonwood Heights government. The city was in the process of incorporation. She liked it, but after a year a sports beat opened up and she phased out of her government beat.
The first sports beat she covered was at the South Valley Journal. Her first story was about three team managers of the Riverton High School football team. It was an award-winning story.
She has an uncanny ability to find sports-related human interest stories.
“That is the whole reason I do it. I feel like everyone has a why. I want to know what their why is. I have a passion for sports. I have interviewed everyone from an elementary school runner to world champions. I am intrigued by the variations I can see from their stories,” Garrett said. “It is about sharing messages.”
A favorite story of hers was on then-Bingham High’s Harvey Langi, who now plays in the NFL. He told her to first interview his offensive lineman. In his words, “If they don’t block for me, then you aren’t asking to talk to me.” Those are the stories she tries to find.
“I want to find out why and then help them tell their story,” she said.
Early on in her career, she wrote a story of a fundraiser for a hockey mom who said she had cancer. With the publishing of that article, it was discovered that the “cancer diagnosis” was not true and TV news outlets brought broader exposure to the story and led to fraud charges.
“This has been very gratifying for me. We have a community reach and I get very invested in the people I profile. I have developed so many relationships from the stories I have written,” Garrett said. “It has been fun to involve my family and enjoy the perks a little bit. I am grateful that I get to write for the Journals.”
Garrett is married to Mike and has three children: Madison, Brandon and Austin.