Sports

Column: Thank You for Everything, Loyola Student Media

Amelia Ickes | The PhoenixAmelia Ickes and Lu Calzada will graduate in May, when their time with Loyola student media will come to an end.

Four years ago on April 28, I committed to Loyola and now this — my final column for The Phoenix — will be published that same week. When I decided to make Chicago my new home, I had no idea what that decision would ultimately lead to.

I entered the world of sports the day I entered the broadcast studio of the School of Communication in August 2018 for the first meeting of Rambler Sports Locker. Since then, I’ve learned the ins and outs of collegiate athletics, something I’m sure even my younger self would have been astounded by. 

The truth is, my life changed when I realized people could care about what I have to say and I owe so much of that realization to this job. Over the past year, I’ve developed my voice as both a reporter and a person in ways I never expected.

Having people take me seriously on some of the biggest stages in collegiate athletics showed me that I deserve to have people take me seriously in my day to day. When I think back to my freshman self, or even myself at the beginning of this year, I wish she could know then what I know now.

I made some of my best memories from college this year but there’s one that really stands out. It was the morning of Loyola’s game against Ohio State and I FaceTimed my dad to show him the card with my name on press row. Seeing his face light up was priceless.

Getting to share this experience with my family has been such a gift, they are my biggest supporters. I grew up in a family of artists, so sometimes I feel like the odd one out, but I’ve learned over the past four years that sports and art actually have a lot in common. 

Both are universally enjoyed — they can be understood with little to no language and among people from all over the world. Both are channels through which we can understand much broader issues. Finally, both capture some of the most triumphant moments in life.

It’s that triumph that keeps me coming back to sports again and again. Whenever people ask me how I ended up in sports journalism, I usually tell them it’s because “someone is always winning” and it’s true.

Even on losing days, there’s always a story rooted in joy that is begging to be told in sports — dreams coming true just by getting to play at the college level, career highs being broken and new traditions being made. 

When I look back at some of my favorite stories this year, the ones that stand out aren’t the double overtime victories or tournament clinching games. It’s the stories of watercolor paintings, friendships remaining strong over thousands of miles and memories of those we’ve lost.

I couldn’t have told those stories this year without so many people, so I’d like to shout them all out now. First, thank you to Loyola Athletics, who opened its doors to me as a 18-year-old with a massive Sony camera — and thank you to my best friend Ava for helping me lug that around.

My Rambler Sports Locker family will get their own shoutout when I sign off for the final time this Thursday, but I want this in print too. I love y’all, thank you for giving me my first peek into the world of sports journalism. I’m so grateful to have served as your executive producer.

Thank you to the little sports section team (+ Zack) for uplifting and challenging me day in and day out by asking me to tell the difficult stories. You have made me a better journalist and person by doing so and I am indebted to you for that. 

My final thank you goes out to you — my reader, my friend. All of that growth I mentioned before wouldn’t have been possible without people listening on the other end, so I can’t thank you enough for reading my coverage this year. 

An additional thanks is in order if you follow me on Twitter — thank you for withstanding my constant use of the dancing man emoji, you’re a real one for that.

Now it’s time for the most dreaded part of this final column — saying goodbye. I want to end on a quote from a poem that carried me through my college experience, The Orange by Wendy Cope.

“The rest of my day was quite easy. I did all of the jobs on my list and enjoyed them and had some time over. I love you, I’m glad I exist.” 

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