Finding my footing through sports journalism

Three and a half years ago, I came to the University of San Francisco determined to start a career in journalism. Throughout elementary school and all of high school, I told teachers, classmates, and anyone else who listened that I wanted to be something between a sports writer and a sports broadcaster. Admittedly, nothing in my life made me think I had a chance at excelling in this craft, but my perception changed when I signed up for the San Francisco Foghorn. 

Whether it be due to funding or a lack of interest, none of my schools had a student journalism outlet. Despite the lack of experience, I clung to the idea that my major and future career would combine two things that I love: writing and sports. 

Enter the plucky freshman who jumped at the opportunity to sign up for the school paper and write extensively for the sports section. My first piece recapped a women’s soccer game, and I felt a rush getting to utilize terminology that I had learned through playing and watching the sport. Unfortunately, my involvement was short-lived as I stepped away from writing for two months to focus on my academics. 

It was not until the end of fall semester that I returned with fervor and passion. My first op-ed dealt with the lack of fair wages given to WNBA players. At first, I was discouraged because the editing process was intense and made me feel like I did not have as much of a handle on my topic as I originally claimed. However, I quickly realized that edits are the nature of the business and within a few articles, my writing adhered to a journalistic style that still let me express my voice. 

What followed was a blur, as I spent my freshman and sophomore years determined to be the first one claiming a story from the weekly budget emails. I covered tennis, basketball, soccer, and almost every University-sponsored sport under the sun. More importantly, I realized that sports writing was in fact a field that I wanted to be a part of because every article left me feeling fulfilled with my work.

Toward the end of my sophomore year, it was all but confirmed that I was going to become the Foghorn’s next sports editor. Finally, a lifelong dream of mine was about to become a reality. With every passing article, I dreamt of being a reporter on the sidelines who could speak to players and coaches alike about the triumphs and heartbreaks of collegiate sports. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans and quickly derailed the visions I had for myself as a section editor. 

Instead of interviewing people on the sidelines, I was holed up in my childhood bedroom watching Dons games when possible and pouring over stat sheets when I did not have the luxury of a nationally or regionally televised broadcast. It also became harder to recruit new writers, as telling someone to stare at a screen and write about a game as opposed to being at a venue in person was a hard sell. Still, I found colleagues along the way who helped out in more ways than they could possibly know. 

That said, my move toward sports editor unlocked growth in me that extended beyond the section I knew all too well. Throughout the course of the pandemic, I got to refine my reporting skills by working with the news section, and I got to display some of my colorful language in writing for the scene section. I gradually learned that there was more to me than just being a sports reporter. 

Despite all the restrictions one may encounter in a pandemic-confined box, I am proud of the work I did as sports editor. I worked with our staff at the time to come up with the Dons Weekly Roundup as a way to consolidate sports coverage and open up the section to other stories. I stepped out of the University bubble and got to profile the Oakland Roots Soccer Club and all it took was a gutsy Instagram direct message.

My greatest work as head of the sports section came when I got to profile Jennifer Azzi. Originally, the profile started out as an assignment for my Magazine Writing class that I took with Professor Teresa Moore, a mentor whose praises I will sing until the end of  time. She encouraged me to submit the piece to the paper as a way of extending the profile’s shelf life beyond a class assignment. It was exhilarating to connect the dots when determining who could speak on Azzi’s career, and I found it even more exciting that I got to speak to a women’s basketball legend as a junior in college. 

I rode this high into this past semester when I became the Foghorn’s managing editor. It was hard stepping away from the sports section, especially when the allure of returning to campus and finally executing all of my visions loomed in the horizon. However, my editor in chief, Lucia Verzola gave me the push I needed to move up the proverbial ladder and for that I am forever grateful and indebted to one of the best coworkers I have ever had. 

In my four short months as managing editor, I was still able to work with the sports section. I covered the men’s and women’s basketball programs’ Tipoff Madness event and got to write opinion pieces with a level of detail that seemed unfathomable when I first began writing. 

As I graduate, I want to say thank you to the freshman who stood in Gleeson Plaza determined to finally start their writing career. More importantly, I want to thank the staff and mentors along the way who pushed me to pursue my craft. Though I do not know what the future holds, I am certain that my tenure at the Foghorn has given me the tools needed to succeed as a journalist in sports and beyond.

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