Mike Guardabascio is an award-winning prep sportswriter and co-founder of the562.org covering local sports in Long Beach for over a decade.
What sort of impact do you think you’re personally making on Long Beach?
I don’t know if that’s for me to say, but I like to think we are helping kids understand that they’re growing up in a special place and that the community cares about them. We’ve become a gathering place for a lot of different communities within the city, and that means a lot to me.
How did the idea of starting your own sports coverage come about?
When JJ (Fiddler) and I graduated college he had the idea of launching a local sports site back in 2007. The idea for starting the562 came after we got laid off. The overwhelming response on social media from people who didn’t want us to leave basically told both of us that the city wasn’t done with us yet.
What is a favorite article(s) you’ve written in the last year?
I had a feature on a Poly football alum named Aaron Shampklin who was the Ivy League’s leading rusher at Harvard this year. The story touched on his upbringing and how he’s overcome the odds, as well as what a free education meant to him and his family. It encapsulated the kinds of stories I like to tell.
What’s the driving force that makes you achieve and excel so much as a young person in your career?
JJ and I have always been people with good, strong work ethics. For me, growing up in Long Beach and being in GATE and magnet programs was a big contributor to that. Everyone was pushing each other to be their best. I have many people in my life whom I value and trust. I feel I owe it to them to hold myself accountable by trying to be the best version of myself.
How could Long Beach become even better in your own vision?
I think the city could do a lot more to support its young athletes. I’d like to see our public, park, and high school sports facilities upgraded and getting a real pool built to replace the Belmont. The city also needs to bring better care to youth baseball fields in West and North Long Beach.
What’s something you’d like to achieve in the next 5 years personally?
I’d just like to grow the 562 to where we’ve got a little more help and a little more wiggle room with our personal lives.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
After deciding to launch the city’s first non-profit journalism outlet (the562), I’m just really proud that we’re still here. We’re in year 12 of covering kids in this city and now we get high school kids telling us they grew up watching our videos with their dads. Being able to have that kind of longevity and impact is really humbling.
Between growing up here and now covering the city’s sports, what do you think makes Long Beach such a special place to live?
I think there’s no other city that has the diversity that Long Beach does, in every category. In the same day I might cover a really affluent kid who’s going to grow up to be an Olympic rower, and a football player growing up in extreme poverty who’s on his way to the NFL. Whether the athletes we cover reach that kind of success or not, this city has people of all cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds.