Lu's Locker

COLUMN: Pass the Torch, Cue the Sports

Lu Calzada | The PhoenixLu Calzada stands in front of a Barcelona fountain in February 2020 wearing one of her favorite jerseys — a 2016 Spain shirt.

Well hello there, readers of the Phoenix sports section, it’s been a minute. I’m Lu Calzada and I’ll be your sports captain this year. Thanks for flying with us. 

Fun fact about me, I inquired about joining the sports section the week before I arrived at Loyola, making my allegiance to Phoenix Sports even older than my love of Rogers Park. I’ve spent three years on this section, two as a writer and one as an assistant editor, and now I’ve been given the privilege of being head editor my senior year.

During this past year as assistant editor, I used to joke that when I dreamed of being a sports editor, I dreamed of actually having a normal year of sports. Going from a semester of no sports to a semester of covering every sport — complete with the smallest staff I’ve ever worked on — couldn’t have been further from what I imagined. 

In the same vein, the process of assuming my role as head editor has been much different than I ever pictured it would be. There are gaps to fill with unwritten stories from a whirlwind year and writers to train who’ve never seen campus. There’s new procedures to learn and storylines to report on that I’ve never encountered before. 

And, there’s a point to including all my thoughts like a laundry list here. This next year is shaping up to be the return of “normalcy” in the U.S. — in quotations because the word can encompass so much these days. How much will we return to normal? What should? What shouldn’t? How much of a hold will our COVID-era habits have on our lives? And, what do we do with all this?

I know I’ve constantly thought about these questions as I’ve assumed my new role, and maybe you’re thinking about them in terms of your life too. I wanted to write my introduction column this way because I like to be very straightforward, and right now the honest truth is that there’s no precedent for anyone on what to do when crawling out of a pandemic. It can be a challenge, but I’m learning it can also be a time to finally try some ideas we never thought we could do before. 

And that’s about where I am right now as I excitedly type up my first column as editor. I’ve got notebook paper taped to the wall next to me with important deadlines, my notes app open with every story idea I’ve accumulated over the last couple months and my Slack account complete with the sporadic messages I’ve sent to my editors with new ideas for the section.  

There’s a reason I’ve worked tirelessly on this section for three years and why I’m thrilled to now be the editor — I genuinely love what I do. I love doing interviews and hearing what’s important to people. I love writing a piece that makes readers feel like they were front row at a game or right there in the coach’s office. I love learning something new about college sports every day. 

So this year, as “normalcy” creeps its way into the U.S. and our new team of editors takes over the section, I hope you will love to read the stories we tell. 

We’ve got an exciting path to blaze through the year ahead as the strangeness of the past year slowly, finally and hopefully comes to a close. I’m lucky to have two lovely assistants in senior Amelia Ickes and junior Fernando Molina Bier — with a handful of brand new writers on board as well. I’m stoked about our team and what’s to come — and I hope you are too. 

A phoenix is reborn out of the ashes — a Phoenix sports section is reborn out of the chaos of pandemic-era college sports.

Consider this the kick-off. Let’s go.

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