As I wrap up my last weekend as a sports writer for The Prairie, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking back on my year and a half at the paper. My first semester here, I covered politics and just general human-interest stories but this year I made the jump to sports.
While some of our staff were surprised that I wanted to move over to the sports department, it wasn’t too big of a jump for me since I already cover sports for another publication. However, having the experience over there couldn’t have prepared me for the ride I was about to go on.
The first game of my new job was a men’s soccer game and I’ll admit that was new water for me to jump into. I played soccer when I was younger, I had watched it off and on and I even came from a place that worships soccer, but I wasn’t really knowledgeable about the sport when it came to covering it. Thanks to Google and my big “Soccer Book” that I picked up at Borders last summer, I made my way successfully through the first game.
As the season went on and I covered both WTAMU soccer teams, I found myself becoming a major fan of the sport and even making some friends along the way. The season didn’t end the way that was probably expected but it got me my first taste of seriously covering WT sports.
During the rest of the year, I covered women’s basketball, softball, and even some volleyball games for the paper. In addition, I was the unofficial sports photographer for both the paper and the school’s photobook the Eternal Flame, so I was at pretty much every game on the WT campus, even if I wasn’t writing a story about the sport.
Working closely with coaches, players, and the athletic department media relations staff taught me more than any class I could have taken on the subject. I watched players experience the agony of defeat after hard losses and the excitement that comes with a win after a long dry spell. I covered last year’s South Central Region Champions when I covered Lady Buff softball and saw just how much hard work goes into not just getting to that level, but also keeping it. The same goes for volleyball. While I wasn’t the main writer for the team, I experienced the excitement that comes with just watching them when I went to take pictures of their games and had the unfortunate task of covering the game that broke their LSC winning streak.
I was there as another team experienced multiple injuries that would have downed a lesser team, but they not only fought on, they went into the Conference tournament as an underdog and were only one overtime goal from making the Championship game.
I also watched teams grow and come together during their time on the field. I experienced watching a young team struggle through their first games before finally getting their first win four games into the season. I then watched that same team’s excitement when they finally swept a weekend of games — their first of the season — and went on to have an eight game no-loss streak to almost make the playoffs.
I had the privilege of covering the last season of some amazing seniors that have left their mark on WT through their dedication to their team and sport. I interviewed players in their worst and their best moments. I had coaches that would come over to me right after the game instead of me approaching them for interviews. I had coaches that thanked me for my work when really they were the ones that should have been thanked. I learned from every experience.
I’m moving on to the real world in less than two weeks, where I will undoubtedly learn even more while covering another new sport when I move to Kentucky to intern for the United States Equestrian Federation. But even as I move on to what I have been told will be bigger and better experiences, I will never forget my time covering sports at WT.
So thank you to all the coaches, players, and the countless staff in the athletic department that I bugged for interviews and took pictures of almost every week. Sure, my classes at WT gave me a good foundation for my future employment but without all of you, I wouldn’t have been able to hone my skills and experience everything I enjoyed this year.
Good luck to all of you next season and in the years to come. Go Buffs!