In the Locker Room: John Elrod, Zoe Kuzbari, and Zoë Martin del Campo, Review Sports Editors

College fourth-year Zoë Martin del Campo and College third-years John Elrod and Zoe Kuzbari are the current sports editors for the Review. I sat down with them in the Review’s production room (not the locker room) to reflect on their work and time together. While their time as a trio is coming to an end, they are grateful for the experiences they had together in the office and in the Oberlin community.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

When did you start working for the Review and why?

JE: I started working for the Review this fall. I’d written a few times last year during the spring and applied for the staff writer job, but I was approached about an opening in the sports editor role. I knew I wanted to take it because journalism is something I wanted to do. It really wasn’t a hard decision to join. 

ZK: I started working for the Review at the beginning of my second year. I was just helping out Khalid McCalla, OC ’21, because he needed an interview and I was like, “Oh I can do it, I know the coach.” Then we got sent home in March 2020, and I continued to write remotely just because I wasn’t really doing much at home. I thought it would be a good way to stay connected with the community. I was hired full-time as a senior staff writer that summer, and I’ve been working here ever since.

ZMDC: I’ve actually been at the Review for some time now and have witnessed a ton of shifts within the sports section since fall of my second-year. The contributing sports editor was a new position for this section when I started, whereas now it’s much more established. I’ve gotten to see the section and the paper change over time, and I’ve also worked with lots of different staff members, including one of my best friends who I met through the Review, Khalid McCalla.

If you did not work as sports editors, what section of the Review would you work in? 

ZK: I think I would want to work for Arts — I really love what they’ve done with their section. Editors Lily D’Amato and Kathleen Kelleher, especially this semester, have really been able to expand the section and have focused a lot on what they both really want for it. I would just love to write a fun, cutesy piece, maybe something a little bit less serious. John does a really good job of making the sports section funny, but I like the fact that the arts section has more creative liberty.

JE: Similar to Zoe K, I would definitely do Arts. I actually wrote an Arts piece before I was hired by the Review. It was a film review on Nomadland. I’d like to do more stuff like that. I think it would also be really cool to get to know the Oberlin arts scene because I definitely don’t go to enough of those types of events.

ZMDC: I think I would probably work for Opinions. I love reading their stories every week and I think it’s fun that you can essentially just publish your thoughts.

Other than the Review, what are your extracurriculars at Oberlin?

JE: I’m involved in club soccer, which is really fun. It’s honestly a really high level of talent, especially compared to what I’ve heard from people talking about other years. The other thing I do is statistics and other types of communication work for the varsity athletics teams. I work really closely with Mike Mancini, who’s the director of athletics for Communications & Compliance.

ZK: I’m on the women’s volleyball team and was a captain these past fall and spring seasons. I work as the diversity, equity, and inclusion coordinator for the North Coast Athletic Conference Student Athlete Advisory Council. I’m the co-president of Oberlin’s SAAC, and I’ll be working as the athletics representative for Student Senate next year as well.

ZMDC: I’m on the field hockey team. I’m also a student researcher in Associate Professor of Neuroscience Tracie Paine’s behavioral neuroscience lab. I’m a Bonner Scholar and work with America Counts at Oberlin Elementary School as a tutor. I also do some private tutoring on the side in math, science and English. 

Do the three of you spend any time together outside the office?

JE: The main thing is walking into their parties unknowingly. That’s the way we connect outside of the Review.

ZK: We run into John at parties all the time. John actually walked into our house one time in the fall and had no idea it was our house. We threw a party, and I turned around to see John just standing in the kitchen taking a shot. We were excited to welcome him to our home. Zoë and I live together, so we spend a decent amount of time together outside of the office. 

ZMDC: Zoe and I also take a running class together, which has been tough but also a rewarding experience. Zoe and I also went to high school together, so overall we spend a lot of time together and have really seen each other grow as individuals throughout college. 

What’s your favorite piece that you wrote?

JE: My favorite piece that I’ve written for the Review is actually something I wrote before I worked as an editor. I wrote it about a year ago, and it was about the Oberlin High School sports teams changing their name from the Indians to Phoenix in 2007. I was connecting it to the name change that the Cleveland Guardians were going through at the time. I got to talk to one of the main activists who was a part of the name changes in both Oberlin and in Cleveland, and it was just really cool to be able to hear about that firsthand. It was definitely the most meaningful article I’ve written.

ZK: I recently wrote a piece on the controversy at the Beijing Winter Olympics about the 15-year-old figure skater Kamila Valieva. I was a competitive figure skater for about 11 years before I started playing volleyball. That sport is just really tough mentally on young women. So I think being able to write about her and her experience and her lack of support was something that I really related to. I like being able to write more editorialized pieces. The Olympics also need to protect their athletes, and talking about how difficult her experience has been in a sport that can be so isolating is so important.

ZMDC: I don’t know if I have specifically a favorite piece, but I enjoyed writing pieces that sparked conversation. In my second year, I wrote a piece about changes in the football team and how some of the members of the team felt unsupported. It was really incredible to have people talk about what I wrote and watch it start conversations about how to better support student-athletes. After one piece I wrote about the Inter-Regional Rumble, one of the people I interviewed thanked me and told me that her parents didn’t understand why she decided to do cross country on a collegiate level but understood why after they read my piece. I’ve also written more vulnerable pieces such as the impacts that body image can have on players and pride. Overall, I’m grateful for everyone that I’ve interviewed throughout the years for trusting me with their stories. 

Which sport do you enjoy writing about the most?

JE: It’s something I haven’t covered that much in The Oberlin Review, but growing up as a kid, I was always a huge baseball nerd and read a lot of baseball writing. That’s something I’m getting a chance to do over the summer for a job. I think the intricacies of the game and all the advanced statistics are really cool.

ZK: I really like writing about tennis. I don’t really know why — maybe it’s because I like to watch tennis and my first-year roommate is also on the team, so I spent a lot of time going to their games. I like being able to write about it and then having to explain the score to people. It’s always funny to see their reaction to how confusing the score can be and then seeing their face when they finally understand.

ZMDC: I’m a bit biased. I love writing about field hockey — my teammates are so amazing and accomplished, and I like talking about them every chance I get. I also enjoyed writing about track and field and cross country. Both teams are insanely good, and they’ve accomplished so much during my time at Oberlin. Being able to cover that, especially the individual players, has been such an awesome experience.

Who is your favorite athlete? 

JE: I mean, this is a common answer, but as a kid I always loved watching LeBron James play. Especially being from Oberlin, I was able to go see him in person a lot in Cleveland. I used to think about how that must have been what it was like for people to watch Michael Jordan, somebody who you could tell in real time was one of the greatest players ever.

ZK: I would have to say Mats Zuccarello. He’s a hockey player in the NHL, and he used to play for the New York Rangers. First of all, I loved him because his last name started with a Z, and I’m Zoe with a Z — when I was little that was awesome. But he’s really short, super feisty, and was known for being one of the most aggressive players on the Rangers at the time. Even though he could probably get himself knocked out if he checked the wrong person, it was always super inspiring and fun to see this little guy skate on the ice super fast and be super fiery. I always wanted to embody that kind of spirit.

ZMDC: Serena Williams. I think she’s just had an amazing sporting career, has had to endure so much, and has given back so much to her community, both as an advocate and an athlete. She’s definitely an inspirational figure, not only for athletes, but for everyone.

Sports editors John Elrod (left), Zoe Martin Del Campo (middle), and Zoe Kuzbari (right) sit on a couch in the Review’s office. (Courtesy of Zoe Kuzbari)