Journalist achieves dream job
Feb. 21, 2011 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated Feb. 20, 2011 at 8:21 p.m.
Clarence Hill is a recognizable name at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium.
Although he wears a uniform of business casual rather than shoulder pads and cleats, and he carries a pen and pad rather than a football, Hill has still managed to make a name for himself among Cowboys fans.
Hill is the Cowboys beat reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
"I used to joke that one day I would be playing football in Cowboy Stadium," said Hill, 45. "I didn't realize my dream of playing for the Cowboys, but I did get to work at Cowboys stadium."
Hill, who has been covering the Cowboys since 1997, is the longest tenured reporter in the Metroplex to cover the team.
This feat is just one of many that Hill has accomplished throughout his reporting career, one of his earlier achievements having occurred in 1995 when he became the Victoria Advocate's first black reporter.
"I knew I was the only black person working there, and I was probably the first as far as writers were concerned, but I didn't feel out of place," Hill said. "It was a good place for me to go."
Hill's first foray into journalism began in high school.
The Schulenburg native wrote a sports column for his high school newspaper, The Shorthorn.
Writing about sports came easy to Hill, who had grown up running track and playing tennis and football.
"Like most little boys in Texas, I wanted to grow up and be a pro-football player," he said. "The Cowboys back then were my favorite team."
Hill enrolled at The University of Texas-Austin in 1983, where he originally pursued a degree in business.
"I realized I couldn't crunch numbers for the next 20 years of my life," said Hill, as he described the epiphany that led him to switch his major to journalism. "I realized (journalism) was my calling."
While in college, he pledged Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and worked at The Daily Texan, the university's newspaper, covering UT football, as well as the Austin-American Statesman, covering high school sports.
"I was able to pursue a career in sports without having to play on the field," he said.
Hill's first official reporting job came in 1989 when he took on a position covering sports for the Kansas City Star.
After a few years on the job, however, Hill said he became disillusioned, resulting in him leaving his job to pursue other endeavors.
Just like what happened years ago, though, Hill missed reporting and was once again drawn back into the business - this time at The Victoria Advocate.
"I thought it would help me as a writer doing news there," said Hill, who worked as a county government and health reporter. "They really supported me and tried to help me become a better writer."
Some of the biggest stories Hill reported on while at The Advocate included a controversial column on Juneteenth and a jail escape.
Also, he won an Associated Press award for his coverage of 17-year-old Albert Yancey, who was charged with murder.
While at The Advocate, Hill made a long-lasting impact on his co-workers.
"I enjoyed working with Clarence at the Advocate," said Victoria Advocate sports reporter Mike Forman. "He was a hard worker and had an infectious personality. I had no doubt that he would be successful in this business."
Hill left The Advocate after 10 months to once again pursue a career as a sports reporter.
He landed at the Fort Worth Star Telegram in 1995, covering high school sports.
Two years later, he was covering the Cowboys.
For Hill, the job has been an eye-opening experience.
"Seeing behind the scenes of football is almost like seeing how sausage is made," said Hill, who has been in attendance at every Super Bowl since he started. "The other side of the game and the athletes is not always pretty."
Additionally, the changes within the journalism industry over the last 27 years have also been challenging to deal with.
"We've all had to adjust. Coming into the 21st century, blogging and tweeting has become a part of the job," said Hill. "It's part of the business. If you want to stay in it, then you have to get with it."
Eventually, Hill said he would like to transition into becoming a full-time sports columnist, but for now, he is happy with reporting from the sidelines.
"You may not always realize the dream you set out to reach, but if you go to school and work hard, you can get your dream job so to speak," said Hill. "Covering the Cowboys is the No. 1 job in newspaper. I wouldn't do anything else."