BCS: Where there's a Will Rasmussen, there's a way - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

BCS: Where there's a Will Rasmussen, there's a way

Will Rasmussen talks about what it's like to cover Florida State in the BCS Championship. (Source: George Jones/Raycom News Network) Will Rasmussen talks about what it's like to cover Florida State in the BCS Championship. (Source: George Jones/Raycom News Network)

NEWPORT BEACH, CA (RNN) - Will Rasmussen is 16 years old, he writes for his high school newspaper and he is covering the 2014 BCS National Championship.

Lifelong dreams don't get fulfilled much sooner than that.

Normally, people younger than 18 aren't even allowed in press boxes.

"It's pretty crazy how I got here," Rasmussen said, still wide-eyed with awe. "I applied for press passes to Florida State, and they gave me credentials for the first two home games this season, Nevada and Bethune-Cookman - not good games at all. I guess they monitored me to make sure I wasn't taking advantage of the free pass. When they saw I was actually working, they gave me credentials for the entire season."

It doesn't seem so crazy once you understand where Rasmussen is coming from.

He loves football, and he grew up in Tallahassee as a Florida State fan. He used to love playing the game before three concussions by the time he reached high school took that away. He moved on, but not away from the game.

He became a trainer for Leon High School's varsity team and did that until he realized there was something he could do to express his passion for the game even more.

That's when he began writing for his school paper. Later, he started his own sports blog, Big Bend Sporting News, and began covering the Seminoles exactly the way a teenager would - with energy, exuberance and a firm grasp of technology.

Journalism has changed, and like everything else, flies on the wings of the internet. Writers no longer call in updates to their editors. They tweet them to millions of followers.

Ink and paper have given way to flickering screens and apps, and saving a story for the morning edition has gone warp speed into posting it online within the next five minutes.

Rich Rasmussen sees his son's presence at this game as more than a novelty. He thinks it could signal another step ahead for the entire business.

"Young people today, they understand that. They're masters of that," Rich Rasmussen said. "His fingers are so much better at navigating those apps. It's fun to watch him compete with guys like ESPN on their tweets."

Age aside, when Will looks from left to right in a room crowded with seasoned reporters, he feels in his element.

"A lot of my friends are probably not as mature as me," Rasmussen said. "I feel like I've had to mature faster just to get this opportunity."

There are times when it's obvious he is not even old enough to drink. As a matter of fact, a staff worker told him he had to leave the media party the night before the game because there would be alcohol.

He rambles in earnest, tapping his foot as he jumps from one thought to another, and the rush of blood makes his neck and cheeks grow rosy as he recalls all the famous journalists he has rubbed elbows with this past weekend.

"They have degrees, they get paid to do this. I haven't even finished my sophomore year in high school yet," Rasmussen said. "My dad is a big reason I'm here. He was the one who told me to stop closing doors for yourself."

The older Rasmussen helped in several different ways, starting with the way he cut a similar path for himself at a young age. He began working at his hometown AM radio station in Kissimmee when he was 16 years old.

He also matured quickly, growing up in a home that at one point had eight children because his widowed mother cared for three of her nieces in addition to her five children. He opted to stay close to home to help his mother and attend small Florida Southern College rather than go off to Missouri, a school with a renowned journalism program.

He worked his tail off - in the words of his proud son - and now works as a successful lobbyist for the Florida Hospital Association.

"For me, not having the type of advantages that Will has today, if I can help him or his brother or sister to take advantage of opportunities like this, I'm going to do what I can to help make that happen," Rich Rasmussen said.

That sacrifice included paying out of pocket for the trip to the West Coast and a layover in Minnesota in negative-degree weather.

Will has made sacrifices, too. There was another reason he had to leave the media party - he had homework to finish.

He laughed a little when asked if a chaperone was required for him to enter the press box.

"No, I don't need a chaperone," Will said.

The young man is adamant that he will take none of this for granted, and it's easy to believe him.

He doesn't brag about what he's done, yet he's still proud - and rightfully so.

More importantly, he understands his limitations.

It's just taken him less time than the average person to overcome them.

"I can't talk about college football the way Lee Corso or Kirk Herbstreit can, but I promise you I can get there," Will said. "This is ridiculous. That's all I can say about this experience - ridiculous."

Copyright 2014 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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