Confessions of a sports editor-turned model


Kernel sports editor Hunter Shelton poses during KRNL Lifestyle + Fashion’s “Not So Happy Birthday” fashion shoot. Photo by Martha McHaney | Staff

Hunter Shelton

I’d like to consider myself a jack of … a couple trades.

I’m not so bad at writing about balls getting thrown, shot and caught. I’ve shot under 100 on a golf course once or twice. I make a mean peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Modeling, though? Nope, don’t think so.

What started as a half-joking invite on a 12-hour car ride back from covering the Citrus Bowl in Orlando eventually turned into me posing in a snazzy orange outfit with some eyeliner on, trying to put on my best pouty face for KRNL’s senior photoshoot.

Now you may be asking yourself, why is the 5-foot-9, 190-pound sports writer with a body built by chicken tenders making an appearance in a lifestyle and fashion magazine?

I’m still trying to figure that one out too.

Less than 24 hours prior, I was covering Kentucky and Auburn playing basketball inside Auburn Arena, seven hours south of my eventual modeling venue in someone’s living residence in downtown Lexington.

Regardless, I wound up blowing party horns in the living room, smushing cake in the kitchen and spinning disco balls on the stairs. All the while, I was checking my phone every five minutes to see if Tom Brady was capping off a 27-3 comeback in the playoffs.

Of course, I had to lean into the “sports guy” angle. Without fail I was holding a balloon like a football, as if I just went No. 1 overall to the Jets in the NFL Draft. Needless to say, I perfected my balloon spiral in just a few tosses.

The aforementioned disco ball spun on my finger like I was a Harlem Globetrotter. My pants were pretty tight that night, but I’m confident I would’ve dropped 40 points on anyone inside the house.

“Try not to be stiff.”

“Don’t try too hard.”

“Keep it natural.”

I heard all of those things in the lead up to the shoot and on the day of. Do you know how hard it is to “act natural?” Maybe for someone who is actually, let’s say, good at standing in front of a camera and posing, it’s not too bad.

But for the guy who sits in a press box, analyzing box scores and crushing diet cokes every weekend, it isn’t really the easiest thing in the world. My version of acting natural is hunching over my laptop, staring at a Google Doc at 2 a.m., trying to find a new synonym for “good.”

I can’t imagine how many times I blinked during the flash of the camera, either. Standing or sitting still has never been harder, folks.

Seeing actual models make looking beautiful easy while I make sure my beard isn’t too frazzled on one side was quite the experience. Some people have a knack for looking good in photos, others have a knack for understanding sabermetrics in baseball. I happily fall in the latter group.

After what I’m sure was a heated debate, none of my photos were selected to be on the cover. I know, I still can’t believe it either. Not sure if someone had it out for me, or if I just looked too good, but I plan on getting to the bottom of it.

It really was a blast while it lasted, but consider this my formal goodbye to the modeling world. As great as my makeup may have looked, there’s stories to be written. To my fellow models … you’re welcome.

I am officially entering the transfer portal, where I intend to finish out my career as a sports journalist.

To all the stadiums, arenas and ballparks around the world, get your credentials, bag tags and concession stand vouchers ready, I’m coming home.