A farewell letter from the sports editor – The Santa Clara
Three years, 72 weekly posts and too many tireless hours later, it’s almost impossible to believe this is my last piece for The Santa Clara. From beginning writer to sports writer, it’s been a remarkable journey – a journey for which I am more than grateful.
I’m not sure where to start, so I’ll start by being honest. When I joined the team as a second year sports writer, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Each staff member had an impressive resume, woven together with professional writing experience and honors in English and journalism.
During this time, I knew enough about baseball and football to land the vacancy, but I had no experience in the newsroom.
With a somewhat tricky dream of one day becoming a track and field coach, I declared a major in public health in first year. Naturally, I figured the fastest way to get into the sports industry was to start with Intro Chemistry. A few failed exams later, my creative side quickly discovered that I was a person firmly anchored in the right half of my brain, and the left side was not up to the chemical bonds, atoms and labs of research.
So, halfway through my freshman year, I desperately searched for a way out of public health while still focusing on a career in sports. The business school accepted the transfers; maybe I could do something in the management of the sport, I thought. The psychology department looked interesting. What if you became a sports psychologist? Political science seemed difficult, but nothing could be worse than chemistry. Why not explore law and become a sports agent?
I weighed all the options, but with the decline in self-confidence and the growing pressure to be fully understood by the age of 19, I struggled to move. I decided to take core courses for the rest of the year to see if other subjects piqued my interest. Then I stumbled upon writing for the post, otherwise known as The Everything Changed Class.
My first big assignment was a 1,500 word memoir. I have written about my childhood as a baseball player and how that experience shaped who I am. Class teacher Mike Malone, who has since become my mentor, once pulled me aside and encouraged me to submit the clip to The Santa Clara.
Three years, 72 weekly publications and too many tireless hours later …
I was the only female writer in the sports section when I first joined the newspaper. Staff have often asked me to cover the Santa Clara teams each week or write a fairly generic report on a national sporting event. This time helped me lay the foundations of journalism and I learned how to present articles, cover teams and interview coaches and players.
But I knew there was more to this blossoming passion than I just had game stories and season previews.
As sports editor the following year, with much needed support from our press advisor Gordon Young and the entire editorial team, I created my own sports column called “Sideline Chatter”. He focused on marginalized topics in sport, such as gender equality and racial justice. I have explored the ways in which structural injustices in the world of sport tend to illuminate those outside of it – and the ways in which they are inextricably linked.
Shortly after the start of the junior year, The Santa Clara the writing was put to the test in the first months of the pandemic. The team has shown tremendous leadership and poise, choosing to continue to cover Santa Clara students from their childhood rooms. As a senior, with the campus closed and the school online, we have remained stable, producing consistent content for the entire school year.
The respect I have for these staff is ineffable. In a time of despair and sorrow, every writer and editor has shown courage, love and extreme care for the community of Santa Clara, which must always be remembered. I wish we could have spent more Wednesday nights in the newsroom preparing pages for print, laughing at sarcastic jokes, and spending late hours. But I am more than grateful to have found this resilient family in the meantime.
Professor Malone once told me that my goal as a writer should be to blackmail every story. Every song has a rhythm, every paragraph a melody, every phrase a sound, every word a heartbeat. By the time the deadline arrives, he said, the article should get off the page.
The biggest part of sports is that the games, the games, the wins, the losses – from jaw drop to routine to everything in between – they all have so many blackmailing moments for sports writers. Bring the fans together and share the joy of victory or the rage of defeat. To convey raw feelings about what it was like to be at the game, in the stands or on the pitch. To educate readers about the world of sport and all of its complexities, because there really is more to sport than just the dashboard.
Writing for this article has given me a purpose and a passion. Without this whole editorial team, I really don’t know where I would be. Special thanks to Meghan McLaughlin and Noah Sonnenburg, Editors of the 2020 and 2021 Classes, who guided me through my early years on the staff and helped me find my voice as a writer. Thanks to Professor Young and Professor Malone for encouraging me to take risks and write about what matters. I also want to thank every athlete, coach and staff member in the Santa Clara Sports Department for their patience and vulnerability over the years.
As I move into this next chapter, I will take all the values with me The Santa Clara taught me.
I am committed to making every song I write sing. I hope to shed light on social activism and reform within our society, using sport as a catalyst for change. I will always remember the heart of The Santa Clara staff members. Thank you ALL, from the bottom of mine.
Humbly and gratefully yours,