I’ve been back on campus since July taking summer classes, so saying “welcome back” sounds strange. During the summer, campus is empty, so I’ve mostly seen student-athletes on campus; now, I see other students, as well.
Saying “welcome back” also sounds strange because it’s not like we stopped writing. Over the summer, the sports editor, Nick Schultz, and I were hammering out articles left and right. Now with everyone moving back, this is my first column going to print instead of only hitting the computer screen.
I’m excited to see what this position brings to my life. It’s already allowed me to develop relationships with some of Loyola’s coaches and players.
This year is going to be exciting not only for me, but for Loyola Athletics. I’m so glad the seasons have officially started because it means more action as a writer. I’ll be covering the teams whether they go the distance into playoffs or fall flat and go into the offseason.
One of the sports I’m most excited for is women’s basketball. I covered them as a beat writer last year and just getting to watch the team grow from November to February, I know they’ve got more development in store this season.
Head coach Kate Achter took over the program in 2016 after Loyola and former head coach Sheryl Swoopes parted ways when The Phoenix reported allegations of player mistreatment. During Achter’s first year at the helm, the team only won two games. In the early 2017-18 season, the team struggled to find its footing, but with the addition of five first-years, including Abby O’Connor and Ellie Rice, the team was able to triple its amount of wins from the previous season.
It was the win against Southern Illinois University (SIU) Feb. 18th that really showed their progress. At the time Loyola was eighth in the conference and SIU was third. It was a hard fought game and I remember being really excited as the Ramblers overcame the Salukis for a 62-53 finish.
I was talking to Achter the other day and she told me how much her team has grown since the end of last season. I believe it; they developed their ball handling, rebounds and overall shooting in the four months I covered them, so I can’t wait to get to see how much they’ve progressed during the offseason.
Even though the men’s basketball team’s getting all the attention, I got to know the women’s basketball team and developed some real relationships. That being said, I am definitely excited for the men’s basketball season. Seeing some of them go off to play professionally while others going to play for their national teams has been cool.
Since I’ve been covering some of those players, I was able to meet them and get to hear about their successes first-hand. I’m looking forward to the possibility of them repeating as conference champions. This time, I’ll hopefully get to go with them as they travel for Arch Madness.
This season is big for me. I took on this new role and I’ve got big shoes to fill. Hopefully, I’m able to live up to those expectations and the readers of the Phoenix enjoy my column. I’m looking forward to this year, and I hope you are too.