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Column: Thank you, sports

Photo by Joey Wright

One of the decisions that I’ve regretted the most during my time at Bradley came early on in my freshman year.

I decided to go to the on-campus job fair in the fall of 2019 with the intent to figure out where I could develop the skills that were applicable to my sports communication major. Unfortunately, I didn’t exactly have any skills that I thought were sufficient enough to attach my name to publicly.

However, feeling just an ounce of confidence after recently landing the role of entertainment anchor on BUTV despite having zero on-camera experience, I decided to see what other campus media organizations I could participate in.

I talked with then-editor-in-chief Tony Xu and then-sports editor Ronan Khalsa at the table for The Scout, expressing my interest in sports writing. At the same time, I informed them that the prospect of me becoming a Scout contributor was iffy at best, due to not knowing how many other student organizations I wanted to join.

About a week later, I decided that The Scout was not for me. If recollection serves me right, I put all my chips into joining three other organizations and wanted to make sure I had enough time for school. I was too naive in thinking that grades in college took precedence over job experience, at least in the sphere of sports communication.

A change of heart occurred at the start of the 2020 spring semester and I started writing for The Scout. I remember picking up a hard copy of the edition with my first byline in it, thinking, “Wow, what I just wrote has been published by an actual newspaper.”

I enjoyed writing in high school, but I never had the chance to write for a school newspaper, so seeing my work actually published was a big deal for me. I was homeschooled for my entire life until I came to Bradley (more on that here), so having my name available to be seen by the public was gratifying.

However, while I felt rewarded when looking at my One-on-One piece, which advocated that Ville Tahvanainen was the best newcomer on the Bradley men’s basketball team, that feeling has completely flipped a little more than two years later. 

As I took small steps in progressing as a journalistic writer, I really began to enjoy covering the sports and athletes at Bradley. Sure, I was a little nervous for my first interview where I asked track and field head coach Darren Gauson about a meet that turned out to be one of the last events before the pandemic took over. However, I soon realized that after over a decade of reading every story in the daily newspaper’s sports section, I was now someone who was telling those stories.

Getting to know the athletes and coaches at Bradley, other media members in Peoria and other student sports journalists at other schools has been one of my favorite experiences in my entire life. Hearing the stories of Bradley athletes from both on and off the playing surface has provided me with much joy, and I’m extremely thankful to have the privilege of writing about them.

Thank you to the coaches of Bradley sports, who have all given me valuable minutes of their time to talk, whether it was after a big win or a tough loss. I specifically want to shout out baseball head coach Elvis Dominguez, as our interviews – which often turned into casual conversations – were always one of the highlights of my week.

Thank you to the athletes at Bradley for telling your stories to me. I’m a believer that a great story is not great because of the person who wrote it; it is great because of the athletes behind it. A lot of you have had extraordinary journeys both within and outside your sport and your voice deserves to be heard. I understand that anybody can tell their own stories and give their own opinions without the need for a journalist nowadays and I hope that I have earned your trust.

Thank you to the sports information directors in the athletic department — Bobby Parker, Jason Veniskey, Jim Rea and Josh Schwam — for the work you put in to assist me as well as the other Scout sports writers, especially in arranging interviews. You all have provided answers to my questions at least one time or another, and the things you do behind the scenes have not gone unnoticed by The Scout.

Thank you to my peers Larry Larson and Joey Wright for bringing me on board as a sports editor. The amount of things that I have learned from both of you as I develop professionally is countless, and I would not be where I am today without these two fellas from Belvidere and Urbana, respectively. I’m sad that you both are graduating shortly, but I’m very eager to see you fly even higher than a Sky Carp out in the real world.

Thank you to the Bradley fanbase and the readers of my stories. If what I write only sees a few sets of eyes, that is all I can ask for. I’ll still be at Carver Arena and Renaissance Coliseum to cover some Bradley basketball action for the upcoming season, but I’ll be accompanied by a few other Scout sports writers who have earned their time to shine.

With that being said, I want to say a final thank you to the other sports writers at The Scout for making my position as sports co-editor as enjoyable as can be. Watching all of you progress in the quality of your articles each week has made me immensely happy and proud. As someone who enjoys being around people, I highly value the camaraderie we share. Angeline Schmelzer, The Scout’s 2021-22 editor-in-chief, also deserves some recognition for trusting me to help lead Bradley’s 124-year-old campus newspaper going forward into next semester. I still don’t know what she was thinking.

It’s about time this column stops reading like the transcript of a speech at the ESPYs. However, as I transition into my new role as co-editor in chief of The Scout (a daunting task for someone who’s worked in the “toy department” of a newspaper), there’s nothing I wanted to say more than that although my resume says I’m a sports journalist, I would be nothing without all of these people.

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The Scout is published by members of the student body of Bradley University. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the University.