Eric Sondheimer has covered high school sports in the greater Los Angeles area for over 40 years. Although he writes about athletes of all ages, he focuses on those at the high school level.
Sondheimer first got involved with journalism in middle school. He said, “In junior high I got cut from my seventh grade basketball team, and I wanted to stay involved in sports, so I ended up participating by being the person writing the stories for the school newspaper.”
He continued to write in high school and college at Cal State Northridge before beginning his professional career. Starting at the Daily News in 1976, Sondheimer joined the LA Times in 1997. He has met many Loyola athletes in the past.
He said, “The athletes at Loyola seem to understand that it’s not all about sports. They understand how important it is that they are getting an education, and they want to keep growing on and off the field.”
Sondheimer witnessed how Loyola’s emphasis on community service benefitted its athletes. He said, “I really like the public service requirement that Loyola has. I think that’s great in opening the athletes up to a different part of their community, and I wish other schools would do that. It’s beneficial because the kids follow up on their community service later.”
Covering sports for many years, Sondheimer witnessed a change in the culture of sports in the Los Angeles area. “Technology is changing the culture, and the Internet has helped bring everybody together, so you can follow games that are far away and know immediately what’s happening,” he said. “Many schools have their own Twitter sites and websites, so I can get information by that.”
Sondheimer finds it difficult at times to cover multiple schools. He said, “I have to cover more than 600 schools myself. I certainly can’t cover every school, so my job is to try and find stories that will resonate with lots of different people. I look for interesting stories, trending stories, stories about people that are succeeding or failing, inspirational stories and also stories that can help expose people that aren’t being ethically correct.”
Sondheimer enjoys writing engaging stories for readers. “There are just so many stories to keep writing,” he said. “I’m trying to not play the game of just writing about recruiting and covering the same winning schools over and over again. It’s really important to keep looking around for other stories and understand that there are stories at schools that aren’t winning and there are athletes at schools that aren’t winning. So I just have to keep finding those stories.”