JJ Fiddler is the co-founder of the562.org and has covered Long Beach prep sports since 2007. He’s an award-winning prep sportswriter and videographer.
What’s exciting about running The 562?
It’s really rewarding to be able to do something like this because when Mike (Guardabascio) and I first started covering sports online it was just a fun idea. Now we run our own 501 c3. It’s been a rewarding journey. When it’s going well the greatest part of our job is that it’s new, exciting, and fresh each day. Every day is a little different but it always feel like home. Long Beach has that grit and determination that everyone has in common.
What sort of impact do you think you’re making on Long Beach?
We try and give the schools the attention they deserve. Sports is just one of the many ways schools are able to interact with the community. When I came to Long Beach in 2008 schools weren’t being covered very well and sports was the way I could help with that because I was into sports. It was a way of getting involved in a community I wanted to be involved with.
How did the idea of starting your own sports coverage come about?
Well, we met back in college. Mike was the managing editor at the Union Weekly at Long Beach State and I came in a year later to do an all-sports page for the first time ever. One day the year after college, we were both working boring retail jobs and we thought we could do our own website similar to what we did in college. We put together the idea, presented the finished website to the LB Post founder Shaun Lumachi, and it ended up worked out. Working with Shaun and everybody over there was exactly what we needed to do at that moment. It’s crazy how [after working for the Press Telegram and Gazettes for a number of years] we’re working with the Post again now. It came full-circle.
What’s the driving force that makes you achieve and excel so much as a young person in your career?
Initially the driving force for Mike and I was refusing to believe print and local journalism were dead, or that high school sports were dead. We needed to prove to ourselves and to our city that people cared about local journalism and sports.
How could Long Beach become even better in your own vision?
In the past I think the people in charge made Long Beach great. The all-star administrators such as Shawn Ashley made the city great. So we need to make sure good people stay in charge. If we keep showing Long Beach it can be great, then I think people will keep trying to be great. If we can be a part of that and show administrators what’s important, then that’s what we’re going to continue to do.
What are you most proud of out of what you’ve done?
I’d say our YouTube channel. We’re up to almost 3 million views a year. If I put up a girls’ soccer video, it’ll have about 1,000 views by the next morning. It’s amazing the love these kids are getting.
As someone who moved here for college and never left- and now covering the city’s sports, what do you think makes Long Beach such a special place to live?
When it comes to sports, Long Beach plays fast, Long Beach is fierce, and Long Beach has fun. But the best compliment we get is when someone says, “You make me wish I was from Long Beach.” There’s a sense of pride here for being very laid back. If you come here, you get treated with respect. Long Beach is so prideful, but so patient. It’s the greatest place on earth man.