Two years ago, I was preparing to graduate from Dwight Township High School — a school of 275 students roughly 75 miles south of Chicago. I had no newspaper experience because my high school didn’t have one, but I was determined to become a sports journalist one day.
Now, after finishing my sophomore year at Loyola, I’m the sports editor of The Phoenix.
These last two years have been incredible. I’ve covered two Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) men’s basketball tournaments, an MVC softball tournament and an NCAA men’s basketball tournament. I never would have imagined being on WGN, CLTV and radio stations around the state talking about Loyola men’s basketball as I was this past year.
If you would have told me two years ago I’d do all that by my junior year, I’d have called you crazy. None of it feels real yet — maybe because I haven’t had time to relax since getting back from March Madness.
To say I’m blessed and grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way so far would be an understatement. Now, I’m excited to take over the sports section for the next two years.
I can’t help but think about how excited I was to come to Loyola in the first place.
Honestly, I was dead set on going to Northwestern University until I got my ACT score, which was lower than I hoped it’d be. Then, Loyola sent me an email and I figured “What the hell? It doesn’t cost anything to apply. The worst they can do is say no.”
To this day, I still say it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
I remember sitting in study hall my senior year watching Loyola take Wichita State University down to the wire in the Arch Madness quarterfinals on my phone. I remember watching former Phoenix sports editors Madeline Kenney and Nader Issa on ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” after they reported player mistreatment allegations against former women’s basketball coach, Sheryl Swoopes. Needless to say, I was pretty pumped to get started in my new endeavor.
I’ll admit, while I’m excited about becoming sports editor, I’m also nervous. I still have much to learn about being a sports journalist in the dog-eat-dog world of Chicago sports journalism. But, I’m ready to dive in and learn from my fellow editors and other journalists in the city.
Most of all, I’m ready to share my experiences with my colleagues and teach them all I’ve learned.
One of my biggest takeaways from the last two years is how important student journalism is. As students, we have opportunities other media members don’t because we live on campus and we interact with the people we’re covering every day.
My first year, I took a class with men’s basketball players, Donte Ingram, Marques Townes and Milton Doyle and another with men’s golfer, Justin LaFrance — all of whom I covered as a beat writer that year. How many other beat writers can say that?
Although we’re younger and less experienced than other professionals in the city, we’re working toward the same goal: reporting the facts fairly and accurately. As sports editor, I promise you The Phoenix will continue to do so.
Although Loyola men’s basketball is receiving more media attention from around the city, The Phoenix is still here. We’ve been around since the beginning. Men’s basketball coach Porter Moser mentioned in a press conference during the NCAA Tournament The Phoenix was the only publication at the first 20 games of the season in 2017-18.
Let me tell you, we’re not going anywhere. The Phoenix will continue to be at everything we can be at — everything from non-conference soccer games in September to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament in March.
I ask you, the readers, to continue to read us and listen to us.
I have so many ideas for the direction of the sports section. For starters, we’re starting a sports podcast. It’ll focus on all 13 Loyola sports — not just the most successful ones. Sorry, “Blers Madness,” but there’ll be a new Loyola sports podcast in town. However, you have an open invitation to come on and talk basketball.
I look forward to welcoming new writers to the staff and broadening coverage of Loyola Athletics next season. Let’s get started.