I should not be here. I started all wrong. I was misguided, stupid now that I think about it. I fell in love with sports writing when the sports part was all I knew. I was raised on Jim Kelly, not Jim Murray. I spent Sundays with Jerry Rice, not Grantland Rice. To me, Tom Osborne's Big Red football dynasties justified breath. Red Smith? Let's talk Emmitt Smith instead.

Growing up, I relived football heroics below banana boat leaves of thick Kansas cottonwood trees. When friends were busy breaking bones on bicycles my heart bounced to the sweet sound of personal play-by-play. These memories are as golden as the foliage that crunched below my Converse shoes and remain the seedlings of a dream that sings today. The whispers will never silence, their echoes slicing through time like the static that spills from an antique radio:

 "Option right … Tommie Frazier on the keep … Breaks a couple tackles … 35, 40 … Shakes a few more … 45, 50 … He finds room down the sideline … 35! 30! 25! 20! … He's gonna go! Holy cow! Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown, Tommie Frazier!"

Along the way, I fell in love with the written word. I cherished its music. The Dodge City Daily Globe's sports section taught me to read. As a young boy I chomped Cheerios over baseball boxscores. I gulped Grape Nuts and dusted donut powder from my cheek, all while chewing up story after story about the University of Kansas basketball team or perhaps another junior-college football player in trouble with the law. During my formative years, my education began not at a school desk long weathered by time, but rather a cherry-oak chair, my neck craned above newspaper copy as baritone bells nearby chimed in 7 o'clock.

Newsprint touched my conscience, tickled my nose. As one of my literary heroes, Willie Morris, best describes in his memoir, North Toward Home: "Books and literature, I was beginning to see, were not for getting a grade, not for the utilitarian purpose of being a nice and versatile boy, not just for casual pleasure, but subversive as Socrates and expressions of man's soul. It took me years to understand that words are often as important as experience, because words make experience last."

I read. I bought David Halberstam and Glenn Stout's Best American Sports Writing of the Century. I ordered anthologies and column compilations. Joe Posnanski, Bill Plaschke, Gary Smith, Dan Jenkins, Frank Deford and others tutored daily. They lectured from the blackboards of my bedroom, my legs sprawled across queen-sized sheets and feet crossed at the ankles with only the crisp sound of one page bowing to the next piercing the silence of imagination at work. The process continues.

More than 10 years later, I have not changed much. I am passionate about writing, about telling stories with a narrative voice. Someday, I hope to write long-form online enterprise pieces for a national organization. Perhaps for a magazine, too. But no matter my future canvas, the beginnings will forever speak to me. They will whisper on, continuing their waltz through time without pause for the slightest of delays:

"He's gonna go … Holy cow … Touchdown … Touchdown …"

CONTACT: aastleford [at] gmail.com


  • Sportswriter


    January 2013 — Present

  • General assignment for FOXSportsFlorida.com. Based in Tampa.

  • Sportswriter


    March 2011 — January 2013

  • General assignment for FOXSportsMidwest.com. Covered Rams, Blues, Cardinals, Saint Louis University basketball, Mizzou football and basketball and more throughout the region. Duties included coverage of the 2011 World Series, '11 and '12 MLB playoffs, '11 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, '11 STP 400 at Kansas Speedway, '12 NHL playoffs, '12 MLB All-Star Game, '12 MVC/Big 12/NCAA Tournaments and Mizzou's transition to the SEC. Was a guest on various Rams draft and training camp videos for FOXSports.com. In fall '12, was a regular guest on KMOX's "Sports on a Sunday Morning" with Ron Jacober. Stories regularly appeared on FOXSportsLocal.com, FOXSports.com and MSN.com as well. Based in St. Louis. 

  • Sportswriter


    August 2010 — March 2011

  • Covered River Parishes preps and general assignment for the New Orleans Times-Picayune as a contributing writer. 

  • Pulliam Fellow

    Indianapolis Star

    May 2010August 2010

  • Worked as a Pulliam Fellow in the Indianapolis Star sports department for 10 weeks. Live and feature work throughout central Indiana of the Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400, NASCAR Nationwide Series and Truck Series races, WNBA's Indiana Fever, regional amateur golf tournaments, U.S. Auto Club events and other GA coverage. Filmed an online video with Playboy Playmates. Traveled to Cincinnati for a section-front piece about Reds third baseman Scott Rolen. 

  • Sportswriter


    January 2010May 2010

  • Wrote features and blog posts for ESPN.com Page 2, including three centerpieces during the New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl run. Wrote a cover story for The Kansas City Star Ink Magazine about Big 12 Conference basketball. Assisted with spring golf and running coverage for the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

  • Sportswriter

    Columbia Missourian

    March 2006December 2009

    Although had not completed prerequisites to join regular staff, approached the sports editor before freshman year to receive professional guidance early. Joined staff in fall 2007 as a GA writer and covered University of Missouri football in fall 2008. In fall 2009, started the sports department’s Twitter coverage (@CoMoSports) and shot raw video during University of Missouri football media days and home games.

    2007 - Missouri Press Association, 1st place sports feature
    2008 - Hearst Journalism Awards, 12th place sports writing
    2008 - Associated Press Sports Editors, 3rd place explanatory (under 40K)
    2008 - Sam Bronstein Scholarship (merit-based monetary award for MU J-school students)
    2008 - named as one of UWIRE.com's top 100 collegiate journalists
    2009 - Hearst Journalism Awards, 3rd place sports writing
    2009 - Mark of Excellence Awards, Society of Professional Journalists Region 7, 3rd place sports reporting
    2009 - Mark of Excellence Awards, Society of Professional Journalists Region 7, 3rd place feature
    2009 - named as one of UWIRE.com's top 100 collegiate journalists
    2009 - Atwater Prize for Writing (top writing award for MU J-school students)
    2010 - Hearst Journalism Awards, 1st place sports writing
    2010 - Mark of Excellence Awards, Society of Professional Journalists Region 7, 1st place sports reporting
    2010 - Mark of Excellence Awards, Society of Professional Journalists national, 1st place sports reporting
    2010 - Missouri Press Association, 1st place sports feature

  • Participant

    Midwest Writers Workshop

    July 2009 

    Participated in seven seminars from July 23-25 that covered various fiction and nonfiction topics, including suspense in craft, composing magazine query letters and maximizing setting use. Held at Ball State University.

  • Fellow

    The Poynter Institute

    May 2009 

    One of 40 college journalists selected to attend a writing/multimedia program from May 17-29 at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla. Attended seminars about the craft of writing, visual storytelling and the future of journalism. Produced a narrative multimedia project that included text, self-shot photos, Flash and Photoshop elements presented on a Web site coded by Dreamweaver.

  • Sports Intern

    The Washington Post

    June 2008August 2008 

    GA reporting for 700,000-circulation daily. Deadline coverage and feature writing throughout D.C. area of MLB’s Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles, NFL’s Washington Redskins training camp, WNBA's Washington Mystics, PGA Tour's AT&T National, U.S. Olympic baseball, USTA's Legg Mason Tennis Classic and more.

  • Sports Intern

    Orlando Sentinel

    January 2007March 2007 

    GA reporting for 230,000-circulation daily. Deadline coverage and feature writing throughout Florida of area high school sports (soccer, basketball, weightlifting), the NBA’s Orlando Magic, the 24-hour Rolex Series race at Daytona, NASCAR’s Daytona 500, MLB spring training, NCAA football national signing day, adventure sports, Arena Football League’s Orlando Predators and more.

    First sophomore ever selected for this junior-and-older position.

  • On-the-road Training Assistant

    Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc.

    April 2006December 2006 

    One of two students responsible for organization's logistical oversight of nationwide training events.

  • Sports Intern

    Hutchinson (Kan.) News

    September 2004June 2005 

    Covered high school sports, minor-league basketball (USBL) and wrote freelance features for a 30,000-circulation morning daily. Based in Dodge City, Kan.

  • Sports Intern

    Dodge City (Kan.) Daily Globe

    September 2003March 2004 

    Manned preps phone line and wrote agate copy for hometown 9,000-circulation daily.