On Friday, Oct. 15, 1993, an SI editor walked into the office of Christian Stone, then a reporter, and asked him to fly to Chicago for his first writing assignment—a story on a boycott of games and practices by members of the Bridgman ( Mich.) High School football team who were protesting what they considered the draconian training methods of their head coach. Stone was to leave the next morning.
One problem: Stone hadn't paid the bills on either of his credit cards—"I had the money," he says. "I guess I just forgot to pay them"—and they had been invalidated. So after borrowing what he calls "a tidy sum" from a group of chuckling SI staff members, Stone began a nerve-racking odyssey. First, his connecting flight in Baltimore was canceled. Then, unable to rent a car because he had let his driver's license expire, he embarked on what turned out to be a 70-mile, $300 cab ride from Chicago to Bridgman. "At that point I was 11 hours late," Stone recalls. "I considered going to Detroit, where Dr. Kevorkian lives."
Instead, Stone's interviews with coaches, players and parents injected life into the story. "It's amazing how someone who's so personally disorganized can be so professionally efficient," says senior editor Richard Demak.
Because of that efficiency, as well as the breadth of his sports knowledge, Stone, 25, has successfully handled disparate assignments in his three years at SI. His fine work on the Bridgman High story led to a stint as our INSIDE THE NHL columnist during the 1993-94 season, which, in turn, led to his promotion to writer-reporter in July 1994.
Last autumn he covered college teams in 10 Southern states and wrote a weekly football notes column. "I felt I was starting to establish myself," says Stone. "Then one day during practice at Valdosta [Ga.] State, the coach tells the players, 'Let's all thank Chris Jones for coming down.' "
That incident notwithstanding, Stone has succeeded in making a name for himself. For the past six months he has been a valuable member of the SCORECARD team, and in two weeks he will begin tackling our INSIDE COLLEGE FOOTBALL column. "He's very careful about what he puts on the page," senior writer Alexander Wolff says of his absentminded SCORECARD colleague. "Maybe he's only 90 percent there, but that 90 percent is 100 percent there."
Stone's forgetfulness away from the office has made for amusing tales with not-so-amusing consequences: Like the time he stepped into a hot tub with his wallet in his pocket. Even his athletic history includes a memorable mental lapse. At the Williams School in New London, Conn., the highlights of his high school career were his impressive 6-0 record as a righthanded pitcher in his junior year and the soccer goal he scored the following year—into his own net.
After graduating from Tufts University in 1991 with a degree in history, Stone earned a master's at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and joined SI. In this week's issue he previews the upcoming season for Miami, Auburn and South Carolina. As for his own prospects, Stone says, "I'm excited about the fall. I feel ready for whatever misadventures might come along."