In The Locker Room with Sports Editors


Bryan Rubin

Darren Zaslau (left) and Jackie McDermott

Jackie McDermott and Darren Zaslau, Sports Editors

This week, the Review’s Sports editors, Jackie McDermott and Darren Zaslau, sat down with each other to reflect on a year of covering Oberlin athletics, favorite memories of the Review and the best and most challenging parts of the job.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Darren Zaslau: What’s been the most rewarding part of being a Sports editor for The Oberlin Review?

JM: I think it’s been really nice when we’ve gotten positive feedback from our stories and different people have appreciated them — maybe different people than I expected. I know you got a message about one of your articles from a townsperson. I got a card in the mail from another townsperson. I got an email from a professor I had in the past about one of my editorials. My coaches read my editorials. It’s just nice to know that people respond to what we’re writing because the whole point is to explore complex sports issues and share our insights about them with interested readers, and hopefully change the way we see things. So that’s been really rewarding. Also, interviewing coaches and hearing their approach, hearing the way that they value the development of their student-athletes — it’s been really rewarding to get to talk to them about that.

Jackie McDermott: Who or what inspired you to be Sports editor?

DZ: I would say just my interest in sports journalism and becoming a sports broadcaster inspired me because to become a sports broadcaster, you need to be versatile. You can’t just be good at talking. You can’t just be good at play by play. You can’t just be good at color commentary. Writing is the building block to talking and communicating effectively. I wanted this experience to help better foster my writing skills to help become a better communicator. I absolutely think after working here for The Oberlin Review not only did I improve as a writer, not only do I think we helped other people improve as writers, I feel like my communications skills have improved significantly.

DZ: What was it like balancing tennis and working here at the Review?

JM: I think it helped me be more efficient in the way that I do things. My ability to work on deadline and write more quickly and understand some pretty complex issues quickly has improved a lot. Also, my ability to go with the flow, for lack of a better term. Sometimes we would have mid-week stressful situations, which on top of tennis was a lot. But just learning to deal with things as they come and manage a lot of things will be a really useful skill for my adult life. There are going to be times when you’re juggling a lot of things, but you have to just stay positive and do your best. I think that’s what we did.

JM: What was your favorite topic you wrote about this year?

DZ: Honestly I think this week’s — baseball’s potential expansion outside of the United States. It’s a very interesting topic, one that absolutely could happen. It’s something that should happen. As baseball player, it’s really interesting to see where this sport could go with a first-hand experience of actually playing it and understanding the roots of the game. Tying this topic into my Honors project that I did about race in baseball is interesting and it’s something that needs to be talked about among the baseball community.

DZ: What advice do you have for future Sports editors? 

JM: Don’t be afraid to lean in to topics that feel really complex and hard to address but are really important to you. I’ve spent a lot of this year writing about women in sports. At times, it felt like a lot of the questions that I had, I couldn’t answer. Like, why don’t women watch sports more? Why aren’t women’s sports covered in the media as much? Things like that. But even just researching issues surrounding those questions and trying to answer them has been really rewarding to me as a woman athlete. One of my favorite things that happened this year was when [Production editor] Julia [Peterson] said to me, “I’ve learned so much about women in sports just from reading your editorials.” That was really rewarding to me.

JM: What was one memorable moment from this year?

DZ: I would say it was that first issue that we did, that was extremely memorable. Because it marks how far I think our newspaper has improved from that first issue, and how much the Sports section has improved from that first issue. For me, it’s extremely memorable because it’s the first time that I met my new family that I never expected to have. The people here are incredible and I’ve loved working with all of them. I’ve learned a lot about myself and the writing process from this experience.

DZ: What are you going to miss most about working for the Review?

JM: I think I’m going to miss your eternal optimism, Darren. You were always there with a joke, always kept it light and helped me figure things out for our section. It’s nice to be around a happy person all the time, every Wednesday and Thursday. Also, I’m going to miss the reactions we get from people about our work, especially the reaction I get from my dad. He’s a huge sports fan and is so knowledgeable, so I think he’s enjoyed helping me brainstorm ideas for editorials. He is always really proud of everything I write, so I’m going to miss making him proud.

JM: Describe the Review office vibe.

DZ: Everyone here is fantastic. It’s that familial feeling that you get between the person to your left, the person to your right, the production editors, layout. Everyone here is a family. That’s not something I expected to gain from this. I didn’t really know what to expect coming in. But the people here are very caring about the product that we put out every week. They work ridiculous hours of the night to put out something for other people to read and to enjoy. There’s something to be said for providing news to a community. That’s not something that’s easy to do, but for us it’s something that we love, so it doesn’t always feel like work. It’s a very comforting, relaxed vibe here.

DZ: What was the funniest moment in the Review office this year?

JM: Watching you muddle through em- versus en-dashes, muddle through comments from production editors. You always took them in stride even if you got housed sometimes. We always have some fun office banter going. It’s what’s brought us together as an office. It’s really nice to have a whole new set of friends to joke around with, so there have been a lot of fun moments.

JM: What are your final thoughts leaving the Review office?

DZ: First of all, I’d like to thank [Editor-in-Chief] Tyler [Sloan] for hiring me and giving me this opportunity. I’d like to thank my mom, my dad, my little chiweenie. I’d like to thank you, Jackie. Thank you for putting up with me. I know I can be a lot, a lot of the time. Which is fine. But seriously, I think we worked really well together. It was enjoyable. I think I’ve definitely grown from the experience. I hope you have. It sounds like you have from your answers to these other questions. Most importantly, I hope this newspaper continues to get better each year. I hope that this isn’t the culmination of the newspaper’s success in distributing news to our students and to our community. I hope that everyone continues to read The Oberlin Review. This is just the start of the future.

 Interview by Jackie McDermott and Darren Zaslau