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Alum reports 30th Masters Tournament


Chris Pittner, Men’s Sports Journalist

The Royal Purple has been fortunate enough to cover thousands of sporting events over the years, including countless conference championships across all sports and national championships in many sports. 

There is one writer that has covered the successes of UW-Whitewater and well beyond: UW-Whitewater and Royal Purple alumnus Gary D’Amato.

Those who have read the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel sports section have most likely had the pleasure of reading his work, as he wrote for the paper from 1992 to 2018, and to date has covered 30 Masters Tournaments, 11 Olympic Games, and three Super Bowls. 

His successes started here, at UW-Whitewater. D’Amato is a 1978 graduate and got his start as a writer at the Royal Purple, where he gained valuable experience from not only working for the newspaper, but also his professors who taught him the right and ethical ways to write and work in the field.

Journalism was much different back then without laptops or cell phones. According to D’Amato, writers took shorthand classes to make interviews easier, as they would learn how to get the information down better. Additionally, since there were no computers, the students used typewriters to write their stories. 

“Now you can record interviews on your smartphone, back then we had to use pen and paper, or some people used big tape recorders… we never had any of that stuff when I was working for the Royal Purple, it was pen and paper,” D’Amato said. 

After graduation, D’Amato moved to the Freeport Journal Standard, a small newspaper in northwest Illinois. He worked there starting in 1978 and covered high school sports, but he also covered other small bits and pieces. While there, he had his “welcome to the big leagues” moment, when he wrote a story on a Brewers victory over the Yankees in 1980. D’Amato went to the Yankees locker room, hoping to get some quotes. He wanted to interview Reggie Jackson, who was eating chicken.

“He was talking and spitting pieces of chicken at me, he was trying to intimidate me, and other members of the Yankees were taking strips of athletic tape off of their ankles and throwing it at me,” D’Amato said. 

But that didn’t intimidate the an even more determined D’Amato. From there, he moved to Wisconsin and worked as a sports reporter for the Racine Times much closer to his hometown of St. Francis, Wisconsin. D’Amato’s first assignment was the opening game for the Green Bay Packers against the rival Chicago Bears, in a game where Packers kicker Chester Marcol took a blocked field goal into the endzone for a 12-6 victory. D’Amato became the sports editor in 1983 and worked there until 1990 when he moved on to the Milwaukee Journal, which merged with the Milwaukee Sentinel in 1995. He was recruited after winning Wisconsin journalism awards, interviewed and got the job. He had finally reached his childhood dream. 

While at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, D’Amato got to cover events many would only dream of: both Summer and Winter Olympics 11 times from 1992 to 2018, over 200 Packers games, three Super Bowls, many events such as Top Ranked Boxing and the Daytona 500. 

Despite all the experience D’Amato has with covering big events, it never truly gets old for him, especially with the committee and treatment of the writers and the facilities are unlike anything he had ever seen. Getting to see the colors of Augusta National after a Wisconsin winter is always special, even after 30 years of covering the tourney. 

Although these experiences are unforgettable, D’Amato’s favorite story he ever wrote was about a Brewers superfan named Bob Koehler, who had never missed a single pitch of Brewers baseball since moving to Milwaukee in 1970, and also happened to be D’Amato’s neighbor growing up, only living about five doors down from him in St. Francis. This whole story emphasizes that everyone has a story to tell, and sometimes the best stories aren’t at the Olympics or the Super Bowl, but can be in your backyard, waiting for you to dig them up.

With all the fun he has seen he knows plenty about how to be a journalist the right way. One of the biggest things that D’Amato values as a reporter is to be honest and fair as a reporter. 

“It’s important to be fair and accurate, to make sure that each fact in the story is checked and double checked for accuracy, to quote people accurately,” said D’Amato. “I believe that is very important.” 

D’Amato had a message for young, aspiring journalists:

“I would advise young journalists coming up right now and wanting to concentrate on sports to really be open about your career path. I believe the more varied you can be, being good with video, podcasts, the more you can spread your talents out into different fields, there is a better chance at securing a job,” D’Amato said. 

All in all, D’Amato’s story is a true embodiment of the traditions of success that UW-Whitewater has set as precedent for so many years. From covering Warhawk football games to the Master’s in Augusta, Gary D’Amato proves that there is no limit to determination, inspiring Warhawks to reach for the sky like he does.