Rediscovering Love For Sports Journalism at The Oberlin Review

For much of my life, following sports has been synonymous with newspapers. I remember waking up early in the morning as a little kid to read about how Cleveland’s professional teams did the night before in The Plain Dealer when I was still too young to stay up for night games. I remember thinking it was really cool to see my name in Oberlin News-Tribune articles — written by parents of kids on the team — for my U8 rec soccer heroics. I remember designing my own newspapers on printer paper inspired by playing sports video games and drawing detailed pictures that surely had captions and photo credits to go along with them.

From about middle school until my first couple of years in college, I struggled to find intellectual interests and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. It wasn’t until about two years ago that I rediscovered my love for the combination of sports and newspapers. I had just taken literary journalism with Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing and Communication Hal Sundt, OC ’12, who gave me the confidence that writing was something I could pursue, and I sent an email to former Review Sports Editor Khalid McCalla OC ’21, about writing. Khalid and Zoë Martin del Campo OC ’22, — also a former Sports Editor — helped me get started in spring 2021.

It was the best decision I’d ever made. Since then, I have felt a type of purpose that wasn’t there before. My first solo byline was about the connection between Oberlin City Schools’ sports team name change and that of Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team. To be able to tell a story about an issue I believe to be important, while emphasizing the voices of those directly involved in it, was powerful.

After becoming a sports editor in fall 2021 and writing weekly pieces, I tried to maintain a level of care. Even with articles that were strictly about sports, I aimed to provide as good of a platform as possible for people to tell their stories. Oberlin has a number of interesting sports figures from varsity, club, and local teams, and it felt important to document what they were doing to provide and experience joy or meaning through sport.

Something that I can’t let go by the wayside is how much my fellow staff members contributed to this experience. I felt instantly welcomed by the senior staff when I came in for my first day as a Sports Editor. Not only was I given a space to work on my own writing, but I learned a lot from the editors around me. Specifically, other Sports Section Editors have been an important part of my learning experience since I joined the Review. Zoë Martin del Campo set a great example for how to cover complex social issues with sports on our campus. Zoe Kuzbari OC ’22 inspired me to find ways to connect national and worldwide sports issues with what goes on right here in Oberlin. Kayla Kim displayed how to tie in history with the present and be highly detail-oriented in every piece. Andrea Nguyen showed that if you quit a job to go to another country for a few months, you can just have it back because your replacement will probably do the same abroad program you did in the next semester. On a serious note, it gave me peace to know the Sports Section was in good hands last fall with Andrea as one of the editors.

At the office, sometimes we like to joke about how we can’t believe we produced a whole newspaper because of all the antics that go on from Wednesday to Friday during a production week. To be honest, I can believe it. Whether it’s veteran fourth-years or first-years who just joined the staff, there’s an incredible level of dedication to doing good journalism, and being around my coworkers only inspired me to get the most out of myself.

That being said, there were plenty of fun moments like staff parties in off-campus apartments, getting sidetracked with doing crafts in the office, or throwing darts at a printout of whichever famous person we chose as Bigot of the Week. No matter what I do in the future, I don’t think this environment will be replicated. It was the perfect level of professional journalistic work and unhinged college student mischief.

My time in college really wasn’t perfect. I transferred here after an unhappy first year elsewhere and my second year was a wash due to a catastrophic world event that was going on. Three semesters of sports editing for the Review has salvaged college for me in a big way and connected me to an old love for sports and newspapers. The only thing I’m not going to miss is Editor-in-Chief Kushagra Kar’s headline edits on Friday mornings.