Editor’s note: Caitlin Antonios earned the right to be Clippers Beat Writer for a Day in an essay contest co-sponsored by Southern California News Group and the Clippers. This is her report on the experience:By Caitlin AntoniosClippers Beat Writer for a DayAs I was taken down the steps into the heart of Staples Center, I was immediately greeted by the sense that I shouldn’t be there. I had been to Staples Center countless times, but never like this. What was always three levels too far away, the court now lay underneath my feet. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error When I submitted my essay a few weeks ago for the Southern California News Group’s contest to shadow Los Angeles Clippers beat writer Dan Woike, I did it in the hopes that, if I won, I would watch the game from good seats and meet a writer I had followed and admired for the past six years. Instead, I was welcomed into a community of journalists, athletes, and staff who were generous with their time, advice and unforgettably kind. The night started with a lot of handshakes and introductions. I was escorted to the media room, a spacious room lined with huge televisions and delicious food. Boisterous laughter and friendly “good to see you’s” were exchanged as media personnel congregated together before tip-off. Through another door, rows of segmented desks filled with journalists working on articles, rushed to meet their deadlines. It looked remarkably similar to the newsroom I spend so much time in at UC Irvine where the official campus newspaper, The New University, is produced. Dan introduced me to head Clippers broadcaster Ralph Lawler, a voice that filled my living room for countless games my entire life. With each step of the pregame process, Dan allowed me to pester him with questions and walked me through his game-day routine. We headed to the pregame press conference with head coach Doc Rivers, whose first word when he walked into the room was my name. It was surreal. We chatted about my school and I was given the opportunity to ask him a question. His genuine interest to answer anything I wanted to know made what should have been a nerve-wrecking experience seem like routine (that’s not totally true, I still kind of felt like fainting afterward). Next, I was interviewed for ClippersTV on the court as the players warmed up behind me. I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire night. After the unfortunate game loss, Dan took me with him to the postgame press conference where Doc Rivers, his son, Austin Rivers, and DeAndre Jordan commented about the night’s performance. It’s hard to fully summarize the experience. Dan’s knowledge and advice was priceless, encouraging and, especially, motivating. I was struck by the sense of family that permeated through every staff member I encountered. Everyone knew each other on a personal level and were more than willing to welcome me into their circle for the night. I got practical advice from everyone I met who took an interest in me and my future in a way I could have never imagined. It was a testament to the incredible organization surrounding the Clippers team and the generosity of all media personnel at the game, but especially Dan Woike and the SCNG.