When he was a junior in high school, Grain Valley graduate Mavrick Alexander attended an event called Missouri Boys State.
It’s a government simulation put on by the American Legion at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg. Alexander was chosen to participate in the weeklong event.
“I was like, ‘This is going to suck. This is going to be about politics and I don’t care about the government.’ I thought it would be good to put on my resume for college. I was really skeptical about it.”
Little did Alexander know that trip was going to set up his career path. Alexander, the only wrestler in the history of the Grain Valley program to win a state title, turned down a scholarship to wrestle at Mizzou to pursue a career in broadcast journalism.
At Missouri Boys State, Alexander met a news reporter from KMBC 9, Matt Flener. He was leading the media part of the simulation.
“You would create this fake government, which was really cool, and I was the media that covered that government,” Alexander said. “Then Matt suggested I could be an anchor and go out into the field and cover the government. I had a blast doing that. That’s when I found my love for journalism.”
During his senior year at Grain Valley, Alexander joined the Grain Valley Television team. He eventually became the executive producer and the newscast from that station was shown during lunchtime.
“I remember sitting at lunch and I was so proud of the work being displayed,” Alexander said. “I got the instant gratification of that I was doing good and giving people news they wanted to hear.
“Ever since then, I thought I could make a real career out of this.”
That’s why he decided to attend the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He initially wanted to be an engineer, but changed his major.
“I was genuinely terrified to apply for Mizzou because I heard the curriculum was tough,” Alexander said. “My parents had no doubt in their minds that I was going to get accepted. I was completely flabbergasted when I got accepted.
“My biggest love ever, wrestling, was now out of my life. I was just focusing on journalism.”
While he didn’t wrestle for Mizzou, Alexander wanted to broadcast some meets on ESPN3, a website that streams sporting events. A friend told him there were tryouts for the position.
“I said, ‘Heck, yeah! Give me the contact!’ Alexander recalls saying.
However, those in charge of the broadcasts at the University of Missouri said there were three seniors ahead of Alexander, so he wasn’t going to be able to do it. But luck was on his side.
Around December, Alexander got a phone call and was notified that one senior quit and another couldn’t make it to a broadcast. That opened the door for the then-junior to earn a permanent spot.
“I was in Kansas City at the time,” Alexander said. “They asked if I could commentate for them, and I said, ‘Hell yes!’ My mom was mad because there was a snowstorm that day, but I didn’t care, I got in my car and went. I commentated my first wrestling dual and I just took off and ran with it.”
He also works for the NBC affiliate in Columbia, KOMU, a news station that is partly run by Mizzou students. Currently, Alexander is interning for KMBC (channel 9), the ABC affiliate in Kansas City.
“I am shadowing reporters to get a feel of the news side,” Alexander said of the internship. “I will also be going out with some sports reporters and getting my feet in all kinds of ponds. I am going to see what I like and I don’t like.”
While broadcasting for ESPN3 and KOMU, there were some initial nerves for Alexander. But he remembered his training during high school wrestling, which helped get him through it.
“I remember I was doing a story about gas prices dropping for KOMU,” Alexander said. “They told me I was going to go live in front of a gas station. I was like a deer in the headlights. I said, ‘I am going to do what?’ I also didn’t have my normal voice. It was raspy because I had the flu. I just went out there and shot it.
“I am glad that it happened because I remember when Coach (Jesse) Whitson at Grain Valley would throw me in situations he knew I wouldn’t be comfortable with. In the long run, we both know that turned out pretty well. When I went live in front of the gas station, it took me back to when I was in high school. And I thought, ‘You know what? I can do it.’ All those moments in the past when I was uncomfortable is when I grew. That’s what got me to where I am at today.”
So, what about the future? Alexander still has his senior year ahead of him and at KOMU, he will be covering high school sports, including football, for the station’s segment “Friday Night Fever.”
He said he hopes to get a sports-related broadcasting job, although he wouldn’t be opposed to being on the news side. He also has a dream job of working for “Saturday Night Live” one day.
“I love news, but I am not in love with it,” Alexander said. “Sports made my life as a kid, so I can tell stories from an athlete’s perspective. It will give me a foundation for how to tell their stories. When I look into the eyes of a wrestler and ask him how he’s doing while he’s cutting weight, I’ll know how he feels.
“I would love to work for the Royals or the Chiefs and stay local. But I would love to be a part of the Weekend Update on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ That is my dream job for some reason.”