When my sister, Grace, heard about the tragic passing of Grant Wahl while he was covering the World Cup in Qatar, she couldn’t stop crying … and she didn’t even know him personally. We had reached out to Grant only a few weeks prior, along with over 300 other recipients of the Martin A. Dale ’53 Summer Award, as part of a 30-year retrospective asking for his recollections of his Dale Summer, and how it had affected his life then and since. Grant responded right away with such warmth, generosity, and enthusiasm that it deeply touched our hearts. Our father was so proud of all of the Dale Award recipients, as if they were his “children,” and somehow the loss of Grant felt to my sister like she had lost a member of the greater Dale family (especially after losing our younger brother, Eric, to a sudden cardiac incident last year). Here is a portion of what Grant shared with us about his Dale Summer experience:
“First off, a huge thank you to you and your family for everything you have done for me and for others with the Dale Award. It has had an immense impact on my career and life. In the summer of 1994, I spent three weeks in Buenos Aires and three weeks in Boston doing magazine-style journalism on the people around the cultures of the sports of soccer in Argentina and baseball in Boston. It was my first trip outside the United States in my life. In those days, my career goal was to become a writer at Sports Illustrated.
“The trip confirmed for me that I really did want to become a sports journalist writing high-level magazine stories. It also showed me that I could take on ambitious projects and do them well. I ended up going back to Buenos Aires a year later for three months and doing research for my senior thesis on politics and soccer in Argentina. That thesis won the awards given by the politics and Latin American Studies departments.
“Partly with the help of the stories I wrote for a campus publication off my Dale trip, I got an entry-level position at Sports Illustrated as a fact-checker upon graduation in 1996, became a full-time writer at Sports Illustrated in 1997, and ended up spending 25 years there as a soccer writer. I have written two books, including a New York Times Best-Seller, and for the past year I have had my own subscription writing site at GrantWahl.com. It’s doing well, with nearly 2,800 paid subscribers, and in November I will cover my 13th World Cup (eight men’s, five women’s) in Qatar. The first World Cup I covered was in 1994 when I attended two Argentina games in Boston as part of my Dale trip.
“… What I can tell you is the Dale Award has had a huge impact on me. And it’s part of the reason I like to spend time advising young aspiring journalists who contact me today. About a month ago, I was in London for a game and met up with a writer I had spoken to back in 2015 when he was just starting out. Now he’s at Sports Illustrated. It was great to catch up with him and be reminded that I can have an impact on young people too.”
The Dale Family sends our deepest sympathies to Grant’s wife, Celine Gounder ’97, and to his brother, Eric, and wish them profound peace and healing.