Lu's Locker

Column: Be Fearless, Phoenix Sports. Farewell.

Lu Calzada | The PhoenixLu Calzada holds a copy of The Phoenix with her first ever story for the sports section in 2018.

I have spent the last year constantly writing about players who have taken their fifth year of NCAA eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lucas Williamson. Jenna Ross. Giann Magno. The list goes on.

However, for as many student-athletes as I’ve talked about getting the chance to take that one extra year here and make it their own, I have been forced to reckon with a hard reality — I will not be getting one of my own.

In a few weeks I will walk across the stage at my graduation, saying goodbye to my four years at Loyola. So today, I am faced with an arguably more difficult task, which is saying goodbye to my beloved sports section.

I am the first to admit there are many things I didn’t know when starting out here. I didn’t know what it meant to be a sports writer when I replied to former editor Nick Schultz’s Facebook post in August 2018. I didn’t know how to get to Loyola Soccer Park until he told me how to take the 155 bus there.

I didn’t know anything — and I mean anything — about basketball until I covered my first women’s basketball exhibition game as the beat writer my first year. Yes, I did search up the positions while on press row.

Point being, I made it through to graduate as head sports editor, and it was through accepting the things I didn’t know — and not being embarrassed by them — that made me better. I was never truly without fear, I just tried my best to be fearless. In the end, it made all the difference. 

As someone who deals with an anxiety disorder, being promoted to this position — one I had only seen glimpses of during the pandemic — was terrifying. What if I don’t do it right? What if I forget something? What if it all goes wrong?

I never went to St. Louis to cover Arch Madness before, I had never been to any college arena besides Gentile until this year. But, we did it. We asked the tough questions, made the hard phone calls and wrote the detailed features that will be immortalized on The Phoenix’s website forever. 

Now, as I look back at all the stories I’ve written, events I’ve covered and time I’ve spent on The Phoenix, I’m just left wondering why it had to go by so fast. I’ve learned a lot — what the Missouri Valley Conference is, the definition of a turnover — and I’ve learned it by being fearless in the face of the unknown. I pushed myself to tackle the stories or take the interviews that scared me, and those often became my best ones. 

To any future sports editors or writers reading this, know you don’t always have to have it all. What makes covering Loyola sports so fun and interesting is the ability to always learn something new. I hope you always take these opportunities with open arms, and don’t take your time here for granted. Lean on the friends you work with, and go the extra mile even if it terrifies you. 

Thank you to everyone and anyone who has supported our section, from readers, to fellow editors, to the friends we’ve made along the way. A personal thank you goes out to my friends and family who have let me make The Phoenix half my personality for the last four years. I’m yet to figure out what I’m going to do with my Sunday afternoons now that I won’t have a section meeting to go to. 

Time has flown by in the blink of an eye, so I suppose this will have to be goodbye. I will love you forever, Phoenix Sports. Be well, be eccentric, be fearless.

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