Roundup news editor Arielle Zolezzi has won first place in the region in the 2019 Mark of Excellence Awards for in-depth reporting. The Mark of Excellence Awards are given out each year by the Society of Professional Journalists, and recognize exceptional work by student journalists attending two- and four-year institutions.
Zolezzi’s winning story, “Coach Under Investigation,” was published in October in the Roundup in print and online. Within hours, it was picked up nationally by CBS Sports, FOX Sports, and more than a dozen other outlets on the east and west coast.
In her article, Zolezzi revealed that an investigation into Head Football Coach Carlos Woods was underway in the Pierce College Athletics Department, following accusations that he broke numerous athletic bylaws. Some players claimed Coach Woods had athletes sleeping in locker rooms and in apartments, where he was charging them rent. Coach Woods was subsequently placed on leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
“Football and football players have always held a soft spot in my heart, because football is in the DNA of my family,” said Zolezzi, who spent more than a year investigating the story.
“I got to see a wrong corrected because of my work. I hope other people my age see that it’s possible to had hard-hitting investigations, even at a community college level.”
Zolezzi is a student in the Pierce College Media Arts Department. Pierce College is in SPJ Region 11, which includes California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii. Zolezzi will now move on with the other regional first-place winners to compete for the national MOE awards.
Winners will be announced in the spring.