The Newburgh Free Academy senior writing for Sports Illustrated has been let go. Spectrum News reported on his acceptance on Thursday, and this update came just a day later.
Sam Ouhaj landed the job as a freelance writer for Sports Illustrated, writing about the Cincinnati Bengals online. The 17-year-old is passionate about sports and even hosts a show on YouTube through his school.
The opportunity presented itself as Sports Illustrated shifts its business strategy to focus more on freelance content. Ouhaj tells us he was fired because of pressure the company faced for hiring a high school senior after laying off staff writers.
We reached out to TheMaven, who hired Ouhaj, but have yet to hear back. Still, Ouhaj is taking this in stride, telling us it's unfortunate, but he understands.
"One of the people I follow on Twitter, Marcus Mosher, he works with Bleacher Report and he retweeted my current boss and editor Tommy Jaggi, [who] was looking for writers for Sports Illustrated," Ouhaj said on Thursday.
Shortly after reaching out to Jaggi, Ouhaj received a response and was very briefly selected as a freelance correspondent for the outlet.
"And I just started working on my first article on why the Bengals should move on from Andy Dalton, and he loved it," Ouhaj said on Thursday.
"When he decides he wants something, he goes for it," said Guy Duquenay on Thursday, Ouhaj's video production teacher at Newburgh Free Academy.
Duquenay says the determination in Ouhaj is visible in the classroom, too, as he is described as sacrificing free time to take the advanced class.
"He gave up his lunch period and took an independent study instead, and he used that independent study to work on The Game Clock," Duquenay said on Thursday.
That's a weekly sports recap show running on YouTube, with Ouhaj producing and writing the show with his friends. Originally, Ouhaj was to write one to three articles each week for Sports Illustrated, in between homework, working two jobs, and applying to college.
"It's a lot to juggle, and I sometimes have that conversation with my mother, and I'm like, 'how am I doing all of this,' but it's just part of living life," Ouhaj said on Thursday.
He said the decisions were all part of his plan for the future.
"My career goal is to end up on my own talk show, like Colin Cowherd or Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe," Ouhaj said on Thursday.
But Ouhaj says he won't forget his roots.
"I love this city; there's no place I [would] rather be," Ouhaj said on Thursday. "And years down the road, I may be living somewhere else, but my ultimate goal is to give back to the city that gave to me."