Alumni Profiles

J.A. Adande ’88

Crossroads allowed him to develop his voice.
J.A. Adande ’88 liked writing when he came to Crossroads as a ninth grader in 1984, and his talent flourished in Jim Hosney’s film classes and Jake Jacobusse’s English class. He was also a member of the junior varsity basketball team for two years but injured his knee after his sophomore year, stunting his playing career. “It was actually a blessing,” J.A. says, “as it allowed me to focus my attention on editing Crossfire.”

Thinking back on his time at the student newspaper—J.A. was the campus editor as a junior and served as sports editor and co-editor-in-chief as a senior—he recalls, “We put so much into those issues. Even if they only came out three or four times a year, it got me hooked on seeing my byline in print.”

Crossfire sparked a journalism career that continued at The Daily Northwestern, which helped J.A. land college internships at the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Miami Herald. He then held full-time jobs at the Chicago Sun-Times, the Post and the LA Times, which was an original newspaper partner for the ESPN talk show “Around the Horn.” Following his work as a regular show panelist, he began covering the NBA full-time for ESPN in 2007.

These days, J.A. is the director of sports journalism and an associate professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses and oversees the graduate sports media specialization program.

J.A. tries to pass on to his students a lesson he learned in Jim Hosney’s class: to view things with a critical eye. “That doesn’t mean criticize as in seek out the negative aspects,” he says. “It means to consider everything: the composition of the ‘scene’ that’s in front of you, the interaction of the ‘characters,’ the significance of the movements.”

For J.A., Crossroads was an intimate and nurturing environment that allowed him to develop his voice—and get noticed—at a time when he was much quieter. “Even though I wanted to go into journalism,” he says, “I doubt I would have taken the initiative to write for the school paper if Ann Colburn hadn’t ‘drafted’ me after I was in her English class in ninth grade.”