Editor’s note: This article appears as part of a series where the Review’s graduating editors reflect on how their sections have evolved, the biggest stories of the year, and their time at the paper as a whole. The rest of this series can be found here.
There was no one who was better equipped to oversee the Review’s Sports section than College fourth-year Khalid McCalla, who navigated a year without competitions to report on and then grappled with the sudden reinstatement of athletics halfway through the spring semester. He has touched the lives of so many people on Oberlin’s campus through his work with the Review, PRSM, and PAL and he will be graduating with a degree in Creative Writing and Africana Studies with a minor in Politics.
As a creative writing major, his pieces often reflected a creative style of writing, and most importantly his unique voice and perspectives. Throughout his time with the Review, McCalla wrote several opinions, arts, and cultural sports articles, including one of his favorite articles: “The Brotherhood Needs to Step Up” (Sept. 21, 2018).
“It’s about mental health and football and it was really special to me because it was something that was very close to my own interests and it was in the wake of a suicide in the NCAA, which shook me, my friends and members of the team that the player was actually on,” he said. “After I wrote it, the father of the player who committed suicide reached out to me and we actually spoke.”
For McCalla, this was one of the first times that he realized the impact that his writing could have on others.
“It was touching and really moving,” he said. “It was also the first time that I realized my writing meant something to someone. I’ll never forget that moment, it was one of the most humbling and grounding experiences that I’ve ever had at Oberlin.”
Another piece that McCalla was emotionally attached to was “Ruminations on Kobe Bryant and What He Left Us” (February 7, 2020), where he discusses Byrant’s legacy as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, but also someone accused of sexual harm.
“After I published it, people would come up to me around campus and people would message me on Instagram and other social media about how the article gave them a different perspective, or just thanking me for taking it seriously,” he said. “I love it when my writing can connect people, the stories that people have an emotional connection to are my favorites.”
McCalla also spoke about his time as editor, and the impact of the Review on his overall Oberlin experience.
“The Review has been one of the most significant parts of my time at Oberlin, just generally speaking I don’t know if there’s another activity that I dedicated as much time to, besides my academics which is saying a lot since I was a PAL and played on the varsity football team for two years,” he said. “The Review has had a big impact on how I interact with Oberlin culture, artistically, athletically and what’s newsworthy because of the pitch meetings we’re having and by reading the stories that we’re publishing.”
McCalla believes that journalism will continue to play an important role in his life.
“I absolutely loved journalism,” he said. “I enjoy the stories where I can bring in personal anecdotal evidence or tie in social commentary. I want to write about things that I’m passionate about, and things that I feel qualified to talk about.”
During his time with the Review, McCalla also wrote a number of articles for the Arts section. One of his latest articles, “10 Years of Lemonade Mouth: The Perfect Disney Channel Original Movie” (April 16, 2021) went viral, with Blake Michael reposting the article on his Instagram story.
With only a couple of days left at Oberlin, McCalla noted the long-lasting friendships that he has made through the Review.
“The friendships I’ve made have been amazing,” he added. “My fellow sports editors Zoë [Martin del Campo] and Jane [Agler, OC ’20] have been amazing and I love them, and will always love them. All of the Editors-In-Chief during my time, Nathan Carpenter (OC ’20), Katherine MacPhail and Anisa Curry Vietze have all been amazing.There are people at the Review who I’d never would have met otherwise, but when we’re in the office, we’re all together which creates a fun environment to work in.”
McCalla’s ability to intertwine social commentary, anecdotal experiences, and reporting will be one of his lasting legacies on the Sports Section. His fellow Sports Editor, Zoë Martin del Campo will miss him dearly and wishes him best of luck as he continues to change the world for the better.