Three years, 72 weekly publications and too many tireless hours later, it’s nearly impossible to believe this is my last piece for The Santa Clara. From rookie staff writer to Sports Editor, it has been a remarkable journey––one I am beyond grateful for.
I don’t really know where to begin, so I’ll start with being honest. When I joined the team as a sophomore sports writer, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Every staff member had an impressive resume, woven together with professional writing experience and honors in English and Journalism.
Meanwhile, I knew enough about baseball and football to land the open position, but I had zero experience in the newsroom.
With a somewhat delicate dream to one day become an athletic trainer, I declared a major in Public Health as a first-year. Naturally, I figured the fastest way into the sports industry was to start with Intro Chemistry. A few failed exams later, the creative side of me quickly discovered that I’m a person grounded firmly in the right half of my brain, and the left side was no match for chemical bonds, atoms and research labs.
So, half way through my first year, I desperately looked for a way out of Public Health while staying focused on a career in sports. The business school accepted transfers; maybe I could do something in sports management, I thought. The psychology department sounded interesting. How about becoming a sports psychologist? Political science seemed tough––but surely nothing could be worse than chemistry. Why not explore law and become a sports agent?
I weighed every option, but with dwindling confidence and mounting pressure to have life all figured out at the ripe age of 19, I struggled to make a move. I decided to take core curriculum classes for the rest of the year to see if any other subjects piqued my interest. Then, I came across Writing for Publication, otherwise known as the class where everything changed.
My first big assignment was a 1500 word memoir. I wrote about growing up as a female baseball player and how that experience shaped who I am. The professor of the course, Mike Malone, who has since become a mentor of mine, pulled me aside one day 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 paper. The staff often directed me to cover Santa Clara teams every week or write a fairly generic feature story about a national sporting event. This time helped me build a foundation for journalism, and I learned how to pitch articles, cover teams and interview coaches and players.
But I knew there was more to this blooming passion of mine than just game stories and season previews.
As Sports Editor the following year, along with much-needed support from our newspaper advisor Gordon Young and the entire editorial staff, I created my own sports column titled “Sideline Chatter.” It focused on marginalized topics in sports, such as gender equality and racial justice. I explored the ways in which the sports world’s structural injustices tend to illuminate those outside it––and the ways in which they are inextricably connected.
Shortly after junior year began, The Santa Clara editorial staff was greatly challenged during the initial months of the pandemic. The team showed tremendous leadership and poise, choosing to continue coverage of Santa Clara’s student body from their childhood bedrooms. As a senior, with the campus closed and school online, we stayed steady, producing consistent content for the entire academic year.
The respect I have for this staff is ineffable. In a time of despair and heartbreak, each writer and editor showed grit, love and utmost care for the Santa Clara community, which should always be remembered. I wish we could have spent more Wednesday nights in the newsroom laying out pages for print, laughing at sarcastic jokes and grinding through late hours. But I’m beyond grateful to have found this resilient family in the meantime.
Professor Malone once told me that my goal as a writer should be to make each story sing. Every piece has a rhythm, every paragraph a melody, every sentence a sound, every word a heartbeat. By the time the deadline hits, he said, the article should be dancing off the page.
The greatest part about sports is that the plays, games, wins, losses––from the jaw dropping to the routine to everything in between––they all carry so many moments for sportswriters to make sing. To bring fans together and share in the joy of a win or the rage of a loss. To impart raw feelings for what it was like to be at the game, in the stands, or on the field. To educate readers on the sports world and all its complexities—because there really are more to sports than just the scoreboard.
Writing for this paper gave me purpose and passion. Without this entire news staff, I truly do not know where I’d be. A special thanks to Meghan McLaughlin and Noah Sonnenburg, Editors-in-Chief from classes 2020 and 2021, who guided me through my early years on staff and helped me find my voice as a writer. Thank you 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 Athletic Department for their patience and vulnerability over the years.
As I head into this next chapter, I will take with me all the values The Santa Clara taught me.
I vow to make every piece I write sing. I hope to shed a light on social activism and reform within our society, using sports 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,