Breathe in, breathe out What my first year covering sports taught me about myself

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Deep breath in, deep breath out” were the words I told myself as I approached the press box to cover my first game as a Sports Reporter for the Silhouette. It was the McMaster men’s football team’s 2017 pre-season game against the Saskatchewan Huskies, and as I tried desperately to blend behind my editor, I stood out. Black skin, big hair and the only woman in the room? In the sports industry, I attract attention to myself no matter what I do.

Despite my discomfort, I knew I was there for a reason. So I shut out my thoughts, buckled down and focused on the action so I could write my first piece.

Don’t bother looking for that article because it does not exist. Although I pride myself on my writing, writing for sports was new to me — I felt like I had no idea what I was doing and it showed. I grew up playing sports, but I was by no means a sports expert. After some much-needed guidance from my Sports Editor, I tried again

As the McMaster men’s soccer team geared up to play against one of their biggest rivals, the York Lions, I geared up to cover their match for my official first article. In preparation for this, I searched up examples of good soccer articles. It did not take long to discover that game coverage was not something I had any interest in reading, let alone writing. But the story behind a player’s rise to success, a coach’s first championship, or why a fan used their Make a Wish Foundation wish to meet their favourite athlete, were the stories I wanted to tell.

So for the remainder of the year, that is what I tried to do. I shared stories of the club teams who worked just as hard as the varsity teams with less than half the amount of funding. I wrote about the importance of family in sports, both on and off the field. I helped athletes publish their experiences as Marauders and I explored how former Mac students got into the sports industry.

As I covered everything and anything sports-related at McMaster, I tried to tell stories that sports fans, non-fans and those who even hated sports, could enjoy. So if that meant taking a risk and hunting down athletes to talk about their style or how many sneakers they owned, stories that the stereotypical sports reader may not read, I did it.

I do not know if I want to write articles on sports forever, but I do know that both writing and sports will forever be a part of who I am and who I will become.

 

Jessica Carmichael
Sports Reporter
The Silhouette

And while I was writing for other people, I was also writing for myself. As someone with a variety of interests, I try to find harmony among them all. Originally the thought of doing this was scary. But my nerves that were present when I pitched some of my original story ideas, are minuscule to the positive reception I received from my editors.

As the Sports Reporter for such a progressive outlet, I have been given the opportunity to explore different areas using sports as a lens. Writing for the Silhouette was my first taste of what I believe my future has in store for me. As of right now, I do not know if I want to write articles on sports forever, but I do know that both writing and sports will forever be a part of who I am and who I will become.

So as the world continues to advance and become more inclusive, I have hope that the sports industry will too. Though it probably will not be the last time I will be telling my self to breathe in and out, in fear of being rejected, this fear alone will not stop me from continuing to break that glass ceiling. I have already made it this far, so why not keep going.

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Author: Jessica Carmichael

Sharing the same birthday but not the same salary as Houston Rockets' Chris Paul, Jessica spends most of her days not practicing her free throw. In addition to studying communications and media, Jessica dedicates the majority of her time to flag football and watching an endless amount of sports documentaries. Looking for her own Last Chance U pet project, Jessica is committed to covering sports beyond the box score and faceless stats.