Alumnus Joe Nevills goes from the horse tracks to the award stage
When Joe Nevills was growing up, his grandpa took him to Mount Pleasant Meadows to cheer on his horses.
The Central Michigan University alumnus began tracking the statistics of the horses and found himself writing about them in every way. Eventually, he turned it into a career.
Nevills used his childhood memories and skills to write "Biting The Dust: A Long Goodbye To Mount Pleasant Meadows," which won a Media Eclipse Award, the highest annual award for horse race writing in North America.
“This is something that I always dreamed about, envisioned about, never expected because it’s such a lofty goal, but to do it with something that is very personal to me is very satisfying," Nevills said. "This is my hitting a home run in game seven of the World Series."
When Mount Pleasant Meadows closed its doors very abruptly in 2014, Nevills knew he had to write a proper tribute.
"Michigan horse racing isn’t very big on the national scale, so if someone was going to write something about it, it was probably going to be me. I realized I was going to have to be the one to do the track justice,” Nevills said.
For five years, Nevills used his connections and experience in the fields of journalism and horse racing to pay proper tribute to Mount Pleasant Meadows, a place where he developed his knowledge about the sport and developed his career aspirations.
He summarized his story as, "a reflection on my home track in central Michigan, talking to some of it’s most notable characters about how they moved on, and how I moved on – or tried to move on."
When Nevills decided to pursue horse race writing as a career, he spent even more time at the track learning photography, developing interviewing skills and making connections.
“I grew up with horses, and I had cleaned out enough stalls to realize that being the hands-on part of it wasn’t something I wanted to do with my life," Nevills said. "In school, I realized I really enjoyed writing, and I understood the nuts and bolts of horse racing enough that it felt like a language I could speak. It was something that I understood and that I just really enjoyed writing about. Once I realized I was able to do it, it became what I wanted to be when I grew up.”
On Jan. 23, Nevills is accepting his Media Eclipse Award in Miami, Florida.
"This has been my goal as long as I’ve known I wanted to write about horse racing for a living," Nevills said. "I made sure I got the shot off right because I was only going to get one shot at it.”