LMU Magazine’s “Off Press” podcast won first place honors at the Los Angeles Press Club’s 63rd annual Southern California Journalism Awards held Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.
The winning entry featured an interview with Paul Westhead, coach of the LMU men’s basketball team from 1985–90. Westhead’s 1989–90 team advanced to the Elite Eight round of the 1990 NCAA basketball tournament. The team’s run in the tournament seized the attention of sports fans across the nation when All-American star player Hank Gathers passed away suddenly shortly before the tournament began.
“Off Press” was one of five finalists in the award category Sports—Any News or Feature on Sports. An NPR report took second place, and a report produced by KCRW, the Santa Monica-based affiliate of NPR, received third-place recognition.
The award was the fourth recognition for “Off Press” from the L.A. Press Club and the 72nd award earned by LMU Magazine overall, including the 2020 CASE Magazine of the Year award, since the magazine debuted in 2010.
A poignant moment in the interview occurred when Westhead was asked by host Joseph Wakelee-Lynch, editor of LMU Magazine, why his team didn’t fall apart in the aftermath of Gathers’ shocking death. Westhead said he believed the grief surrounding Gathers’ death made games and practice a time when the players could set aside their emotional burden. They played freely, without pressure. “Hank’s passing was bigger than winning and losing,” Westhead explained.
In Westhead’s five-year stint at LMU, LMU made three NCAA appearances. Westhead developed a style of play — “The System” — that has rarely been successfully copied. He also won championships with the NBA Los Angeles Lakers in 1980 and the WNBA Phoenix Mercury in 2007, making him the only coach to have won a championship in both men and women’s professional leagues.
Listen to the award-winning “Off Press” episode with Paul Westhead here: https://bit.ly/LMUmWesthead.
Photo by Jon Rou