Although the Dallas Mavericks fell to the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals 4 games to 1, it was the experience of a lifetime for Johnson Middle School teacher and lifelong Mavericks fan Dorothy Gentry.

A Reading Language Arts teacher, Gentry has been in education for 21 years, eight of those in Irving ISD. She wears many hats in the building, also teaching Publications and Yearbook along with serving as adviser for the National Junior Honor Society. Oh, and by the way, in her spare time, she is also a national freelance writer for publications and websites including The Athletic, Front Office Sports, I Messenger Media/Texas Metro News, SLAM Magazine, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times and more.

“Before beginning my career in education, I was a full-time professional journalist for 25 years, covering police, the courts, education, sports, general news and more,” says Gentry. “Teaching is my second act. I have always had a love of writing and teaching. After a long career in journalism, which included radio, television, public relations and newspapers, I was ready to move into education and teaching, so I got my certification and began teaching.”

While she still loves journalism, it has become more of a freelance opportunity now with her responsibilities as a teacher always coming first. 

“The teams I cover all know that I am a teacher, and they think it’s cool. I miss some games when I’m tired from school or if I have a school-related obligation,” says Gentry. “I do my freelance work when I have time. For example, I’ll interview players during my lunchtime, after school or on the weekends.”

As one of the first black journalists in Dallas, her father, Clarence H. Gentry, was a huge inspiration for her growing up. He went on to have a long career with the Houston Informer before passing away. She followed in her dad’s footsteps and wrote all throughout her time in school, serving as a writer and editor for her high school newspaper and yearbook and her college newspaper at the University of North Texas.

“In the classroom, I use the same enthusiasm I have for the written word and try to share it with my students,” says Gentry. “When I show them some of my work, they are so stunned. I think it helps them listen to me a little more when I talk about writing. I tell them stories about the games and players I meet and interview, and it helps me gain their attention, build relationships and gets them interested in the work we are doing.”

One of Gentry’s favorite memories of her career was earlier this year when Dallas Mavericks point guard Kyrie Irving gave her his one-of-a-kind basketball during a press conference after she asked him about it.

“Born and raised in Dallas, I’m a Mavericks fan from way back – the Reunion Arena days, Mark Aguirre, Derek Harper, Sam Perkins, all the old school players that so many don’t know,” says Gentry. “Covering the team has definitely been a dream come true. It’s been fun talking with players, going to practice, watching how they prepare for games, asking them questions and then seeing their responses go viral when they’re picked up by ESPN, Bleacher Report and other sports outlets.”

Now that school is out for the summer, Gentry has been able to soak in all the glitz and glamor that comes with an extended playoff run by the Dallas Mavericks, culminating with a trip to the NBA Finals.

“It was awesome,” says Gentry. “So many celebrities and entertainers came out to the games. It was cool to see Bad Bunny and Queen Latifah one day, then Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce the next. But nothing compares to being in the atmosphere and getting to write first-hand what it was like to be a part of it all, seeing your name in print and sharing it with others.”

Gentry has some wise words of advice for any aspiring journalists out there hoping to break into the industry.

Make sure you have strong writing and editing skills and attend the games of the sport you are interested in to learn more about it and get a feel for the ambiance, the crowd, etc. In college, seek out internships with sports media outlets to gain first-hand experience in reporting, editing and producing sports content. If possible, find a mentor to help you navigate the industry,” says Gentry. “Lastly, stay focused and always continue to be teachable and a student of your craft. And most importantly, stay humble, thankful and appreciative of any opportunity that comes your way.”