Harry Minium could have been a pipefitter. Instead he’s one of the most prolific writers in Hampton Roads.
He doesn’t hesitate to credit Tidewater Community College for giving him his start.
The Virginian-Pilot reporter’s coverage has spanned the gamut of Hampton Roads sports from his current beat, Old Dominion University football, to the Norfolk Admirals and Norfolk State University to the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.
He’s been to six NCAA Final Fours – three apiece, men’s and women’s – and one Super Bowl.
Minium spent nine of his 37 years at the Pilot covering Norfolk City Hall, where he uncovered the story of a no-show employee collecting a state salary for 12 years and exposed more than $100 million in light rail cost overruns.
“I owe everything that’s happened in my professional life to TCC,” says the 1973 alumnus, recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors, the Virginia Press Association and Football Writers of America for a body of work that exceeds 10,000 bylines.
The four-sport athlete and football team captain from Norview High embraced athletics over academics in 1971. He was on the waiting list to be a pipefitter at Newport News Shipyard when his mother pushed him toward classes at TCC.
He bought a car for $400 and found his way to the original Portsmouth Campus in North Suffolk for some classes and the Virginia Beach Campus, then bleak and dreary Camp Pendleton barracks, for others.
“The facilities at TCC weren't great then, but the faculty was amazing,” he said. “I learned to love to write, to appreciate good literature, especially Faulkner, Hemingway and Steinbeck.”
Minium planned to teach P.E. after college.
“Then my English professor, Dr. Blumer, took me aside; he was the first person who told me I could write,” Minium said. “He said, ‘You should be a writer. Don't go into newspapers, go work for a magazine. Write fiction. Newspapers are crap.’ Obviously, I only took part of his advice.”
Minium graduated from TCC with an Associate of Science and transferred to Old Dominion University, earning his bachelor’s in English and literature. In addition, he holds a master’s in mass communication from Virginia Commonwealth University.
After a year at Richmond’s News Leader, he joined the Pilot, initially covering high school sports but making his mark as a storyteller and investigative reporter.
Now in his fifth season covering ODU football, Minium is a master at weaving a narrative. He followed former ODU quarterback Taylor Heinicke around campus for one memorable piece and recently began weekly podcasts on the team. He also blogs for the paper; a recent post talks about his own missionary work in Haiti.
He and his wife, Ellen, live in Norfolk. Minium is father to two daughters, Amy, 30, and Ginny, who died in 2000.
“I got degrees from ODU and VCU,” he said. “But from an academic standpoint, my two years at TCC were my favorite. TCC is where I acquired a love of learning.”