From tennis to TV: Micah Bailey’s story

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Updated: May 13, 2014

Senior Micah Bailey left the familiar world of tennis to focus on his future career as a journalist.

College athletes are often defined only by their achievements in their sport, but senior Micah Bailey decided he was going to be different. Bailey played on the men’s tennis team until midway through his junior year but decided to give up the sport he loves to focus on something he found more important: his career.

“College for me has been like two chapters; tennis was one chapter and post-tennis was the next,” Bailey said.

Photo by Rebecca Castagna

Photo by Rebecca Castagna

Bailey picked up a racket at two years old and at 10 decided to concentrate on tennis over all other sports. It makes sense considering he’s the third generation to continue the tennis tradition. His grandfather was a Connecticut state champion in high school, his father now coaches tennis, and both parents toured the world playing the game.

When it came time to think about college, Bailey decided he wanted to continue his tennis career. Quinnipiac offered the tennis and communications programs he wanted, so in the fall of 2010 the Florida native packed up and headed to Connecticut.

Bailey thought he had four years of college tennis ahead of him, but nothing at school seemed to go as planned. Freshman year he was suspended from the team for missing the bus to a tournament and then accidentally missing a meeting with a recruit.

“College in itself was just a wake up call, especially being really far from home,” Bailey said. “As a teenager you think you’re ready for the world and I found out there was a lot of growing up I had to do and quickly.”

Sophomore year he settled in and played his best tennis in his college career. Then junior year he suffered a hand injury that kept him off the court. This was about the time he started seriously thinking about his future.

“When I got hurt, that was kind of a sign for me that maybe my focus should be shifting, and it was hard,” Bailey said.

It was a tough decision to leave a sport he played for the past 20 years, but Bailey knew he wanted to be more involved in school. He broke the news to his coaches, friends and family and received nothing but support in return. Even his father, a tennis coach back home, wanted whatever would make his son happy.

“I didn’t even get the feeling once that my dad was against my decision at all. He completely heard me out before he even said anything. [My parents] know me and know how much I want to succeed,” Bailey said.

After quitting the team it was time to start seriously thinking about a career. Bailey came to school with the dream of being a sports anchor, but over time his focus shifted more to general news.

While news is how Bailey hopes to make a living, he also has a great passion for writing poetry. He performed his work at open mic nights in high school and continues to do the same now, attending Montage events when he gets the chance.

Despite his love of poetry, he opted not to pursue a degree in English. Bailey stresses how much he thinks about the future, and a job writing poetry isn’t exactly practical.

“I think of myself as a creative person and sometimes the job market doesn’t let you completely do what you want to do until you’ve made it, and then maybe you can do whatever you want to do,” Bailey said.

Although Bailey can’t fully express his creativity in the job field yet, he has a plan to lead him to a dream career in the future. That plan started with applying for internships in his current field of study: communications. In the summer before his senior year, Bailey ended up at the WTNH assignment desk in New Haven.

“I just went into it with the best attitude possible, and I didn’t know what to expect. It was my first time doing anything like that,” Bailey said.

Making up for lost time, Bailey took action to stand out. In the last week of his internship a plane crashed in East Haven. Bailey was there to get the story rolling. He informed reporters of the story, searched Twitter for information and accompanied reporters to the site of the crash.

“As a teenager you think you’re ready for the world, and I found out there was a lot of growing up I had to do and quickly.”

In his final evaluation interview with the news director, he was reassured his actions hadn’t gone unnoticed. He wasn’t offered a position on the spot but was told there might be a place for him at WTNH in the future.

With the possibility of a job on the horizon, Bailey did what any good former intern does — stay in contact. He also caught a lucky break when he happened to spot Keith Kountz, a WTNH anchor, playing tennis on the Quinnipiac courts. He took the opportunity to bond and create an even better contact.

“It’s just another lucky opportunity and I think the lesson is if you put yourself in the right position sometimes things do go your way,” Bailey said. “I’ve always kind of doubted luck, but now I realize there is some luck to it.”

However, Bailey didn’t need luck to land a job. His hard work over the summer paid off when WTNH emailed him about an open position at the assignment desk.

“I have the screenshot of the email just because it was that epic,” Bailey said about getting the opportunity.

He was offered the job and started working the morning shift with WTNH on the weekends. After three weeks of training, he was on his own at the assignment desk.

His time there hasn’t been without some first-job hiccups. He once called a public information officer without thinking about the fact that it was 6:30 a.m. on a Sunday, but he’s learning.

Bailey’s also one of the lucky seniors to already have a job secured before graduation. Even though it may not be his dream job, it’s a start.

Despite having to make the tough decision to give up the sport he played his whole life, it’s safe to say that Bailey made the right choice.

“It’s nice getting rewarded after working really hard,” Bailey said. “Now I get to reflect on the past four years, and it does feel like quite a journey since the first day of freshman year.”

Bailey will always consider himself an athlete and he will always have tennis in his life, but now he’s well on his way to reaching other dreams.

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