With about 1,000 applicants - and Sports Illustrated Kids only looking for a handful of winners - the odds of Tucker Wyatt being chosen as one of the magazine's "kid reporters" were against him.
But the 12-year-old Harrisonburg resident never had a doubt.
"I don't know. I had this weird feeling from the very beginning that I was going to get it," says Wyatt, who learned last Friday that he was one of 12 children chosen for the Kid Reporter program.
Wyatt, who's in his third season as a volunteer ball boy for the James Madison football program, was at the Dukes' walk-through when he got the news.
"I was pretty pumped. My family's pretty pumped; my friends," he says. "It was awesome."
"He's exactly the kind of kid we're looking for in our program," Gary Gramling, the director of the Kid Reporter program, wrote Tuesday in an email. "We're really looking forward to working with him over the next year."
According to Gramling, SI Kids got approximately 1,000 applicants from around the United States and Canada. Wyatt got the organizers' attention with his initial entry, a profile on former JMU football star - and now injured Jacksonville Jaguars rookie - Scotty McGee.
The initial pool was narrowed down to 120 based on those written entries. That group was then whittled down to a final 20, who were asked to submit videos explaining "Why I Want to be a Kid Reporter."
"He really wowed us with his video entry," wrote Gramling. "He's just a really creative kid. We had some lengthy debates on the pros and cons of some of the other applicants, but Tucker was an easy decision for us."
Gramling says Kid Reporters write blog entries for SIKids.com, and cover events for both the website and monthly magazine.
Last year, reporters went to events like the MLB All-Star Game, NFL Draft, and U.S. Open tennis tournament, and interviewed athletes like baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., NASCAR star Tony Stewart, and football legends Barry Sanders and Jim Brown.
And Wyatt says he can't wait to learn his first assignment.
I'm most looking forward to interviewing stars," he says. "Interviewing athletes and such."
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