TNH Alumni Series: Jackie MacMullan
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From playing basketball to writing for The New Hampshire (TNH), MacMullan succeeded during her time at UNH.
Now frequently appearing on ESPN’s “Around the Horn,” MacMullan was once a UNH Wildcat. She would buckle down to not only to play for the basketball team from 1978-82, but to stay up late and edit stories written about her own team. Now, that sounds challenging.
“My parents thought I was nuts for going here, because I got accepted to Syracuse. I wanted to be a journalism major and something about this campus and the feel of it made me like it,” MacMullan said.
MacMullan’s credentials may be through the roof, but she remains humble and thanks those who encouraged her to join TNH from the beginning.
“My teachers and mentors Don Murray and Andrew Merton were the two people that made The New Hampshire the best,” MacMullan said. She gives the professor duo credit for getting her into TNH and falling in love with writing.
“I was a little afraid to go over there. At the time I didn’t have the courage to join, but [Murray] said you have to join the school newspaper,” MacMullan said. “He was that guy who would give you a big bear hug and throw you into the program.”
MacMullan was involved in many English and journalism classes, but she said that taking a magazine writing class with Merton proved to be life changing.
“He was a straight man that challenged me to write well. I would write something and after having him look over it, he would send it back with the words ‘teach me something’ on it. That changed something for me,” MacMullan said.
As a news editor in 1981, MacMullan remembers when President Ronald Reagan was shot and she went around campus looking for reactions from the community. “That resonated with me,” she said.
When she began her senior year in 1982, she became TNH’s sports editor. She said that the position provided her with some of her toughest work, especially running stories about her own team.
“At the time our team was in great turmoil and we did a feature on Denise Higgins. She found out and she said to me, ‘You can’t write this story right now,’ and I understood completely, but we could not take this out so I had to run it,” she said.
The New Hampshire became a catalyst for MacMullan in which she was able to land a summer internship at the Gloucester Times, but playing basketball her senior year kept her from internship opportunities during the school year. The Boston Globe would provide a guaranteed spot, but not to graduating seniors. MacMullan was in a jam, but Merton again shed some light that she said changed her life.
“He came up with the idea for me to defer graduation until the fall, and then I got a news internship at the Globe,” MacMullan said.
The rest was history for MacMullan, who ended up working for the Globe after interning there. From police scenes to late night lobster shifts, MacMullan covered it all. Yet, sport writing was something she could not get away from.
“I hung around the sports department quite a bit and Ian Thomsen became my closest friend in the business,” MacMullan said.
However, both UNH and TNH in general can be looked at as MacMullan’s foundation, according to her.
“I played basketball here, I was more of a crawl on and played more my junior year, but I liked being a part of a team and I met lifelong friends as well as my husband, Mike,” she said.
As we basque in 150 years of celebration here at UNH and reflect on past TNH alums, Jackie MacMullan certainly stands out.