Connor Pignatello, Gazette’s newest sports reporter, hitting the ground running

Connor Pignatello

Connor Pignatello STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

CONNOR PIGNATELLO

Staff Writer

Published: 03-25-2024 3:15 PM

When I was nine years old, my third-grade class had a stuffed animal mascot, Tag the Tiger.

My teacher, Mr. Peters, assigned us a creative writing story on Tag every couple of weeks. Written with my third-grade Ticonderoga scrawl in a black and white composition notebook with no paragraph breaks, I turned in the longest stories Mr. Peters had ever seen.

Once, I wrote the play-by-play of an entire baseball game between Tag and his imaginary stuffed animal friends.

Thirteen years later, I’m writing about real-life baseball games as the newest sports reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette, where I cover UMass and high school sports. In those 13 years since Tag the Tiger, I’ve learned a few things, one of them being paragraph breaks. What was nine-year-old me thinking?

While I’m just writing this introduction now, I actually started here six weeks ago. It’s been a little hectic in Hampshire County recently. 

Hampshire County individual athletes competed at states, teams won Western Mass. crowns, and then state tournament play began.

And oh yeah, UMass announced it was joining a new conference.

I’ve always loved people, I’ve always loved to write and I’ve always loved sports. While the X’s and O’s can be interesting, I’ve always been far more interested in the storytelling aspect of sports journalism. People express themselves through sports in ways they don’t elsewhere, and I’m passionate about telling those stories. I’ve told stories of elation and heartbreak, love and loss, resilience and greed. I’ve seen tears of joy, tears of sadness and everything in between.

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Originally from New Haven, I started up a sports blog when I was 15 thanks to some inspiration from my dad. I was lucky if 10 people read my articles, but it was an outlet for my creative energy. And I absolutely loved it.

I attended Syracuse University and earned a degree in newspaper and online journalism from the Newhouse School last May. But I didn’t learn how to be a reporter in class. I learned at The Daily Orange, the financially and editorially independent newspaper solely run by Syracuse students. Through organic discovery and mentorship by so many of the greats before me, I learned how to talk to someone. I learned how to tell a story. 

I learned how to show rather than tell. I learned to play around and see what I could make out of an idea. I learned how to run down something I was interested in. Almost every story I’ve ever written has come from my own idea, my own vision, my own reporting and my own writing.

While at Syracuse, I also worked for Syracuse.com and The Post Standard, Central New York’s largest news outlet. In two years working for them, I handled college beats, high school sports and other enterprise projects. I also freelanced on high school sports for the Albany Times-Union and the Buffalo News.

Before landing at the Gazette in February, I spent several months at MassLive, covering high school sports across western Mass. Between my work there and my work here at the Gazette, I’ve covered every single fall and winter high school sport in the area.

And I’m excited to get going with the upcoming spring season.

I’m sure you’ll see me around, so come say hi. And if you ever come across something I might be interested in, don’t hesitate to drop me a line at (cpignatello@gazettenet.com) or at 413-585-5244.