In October of my third year at McMaster, I was sort of lost as I entered the second half of my degree. The inevitable end of my degree began to loom large over many of my conversations. Family and friends, either out of genuine interest or idle conversation over the holidays, would inevitably attempt to discuss my post-degree plans with me.
At the suggestion of a close friend and encouragement from my family, I decided to get over any anxiety over my future and take steps into getting some experience that could resemble some sort of future career choice. The next week, I walked into the Silhouette office in the basement of the student centre and finally stepped out of my comfort zone.
Since that day, after countless articles, sports covered, athletes interviewed and friendships forged that I will cherish forever, I can truly say I have loved my time here. And I can owe that — at least in part — to sports.
As someone who has been obsessed with sports since my childhood, I have met many people who do not share in my obsession. Whether they were never exposed to sports growing up or just never found them interesting, a lot of people would not understand my love for watching millionaires play an arguably meaningless game.
But that’s totally missing the point. Sport is much more than goals scored in a season, triple-double records and debates over the best football player of all time. It is a chance to see thousands of people gathered together in a stadium to cheer for the same thing, or a family huddle around a portable black and white TV at a birthday party.
Not to mention the countless Saturday nights begging to stay up for the third period. It is a phenomenon that is truly unmatched in my eyes and has always played a significant part in my life.
Covering sports married my loves for reading, writing and sports perfectly. Contributing to the sports section then eventually stepping into the Sports Editor role this past school year has never truly felt like work.
In the 2016-2017 season, I went to nearly every men’s basketball game in Burridge. In that time, I gained a new appreciation for Ontario University Athletics basketball, and came face-to-face with what I have been hearing hopeful Canadian sports writers say for years: Canadian basketball is on the rise.
That same year, I got a chance to cover a couple of important football games as the team made a push into the later stages of the OUA playoffs. I had the opportunity to interview the coach and players in the hallways next to the team’s dressing room — a lot like every post-game scrum I have seen on TV.
I have since lost count how many times I have interviewed athletes and coaches in either post-game moments like that or at a wobbly table in the David Braley Athletic Centre. Yet, I still get that anxious feeling every time. While this feeling is less intense than in the past as I have gotten better at dealing with it, it has never fully gone away.
That stomach-turning anxiety is really now just excitement from getting to cover sports and continuing to share the stories of athletes that go beyond the box score.
However, the only way for me to deal with that anxiety is to continue to put myself out there. And covering sports constantly makes me do that. Reaching out to new people, meeting with them and then writing an article a number of people will read is all part of the job.
Covering the Marauders these past two years has helped me not live my life in the stands, no longer watching everything pass by (and no, it is not not lost on me that I do watch and cover games from the stands). I have personally seen and heard of the many ways in which sports has helped people achieve a healthier state of mental health. Covering sports has actually done the same for me.
Thinking back to my first day of being involved with the Silhouette, walking back and forth in front of that off-putting, long entrance, I am really glad I went in. That stomach-turning anxiety is really now just excitement from getting to cover sports and continuing to share the stories of athletes that go beyond the box score.
From football to badminton, volleyball to cheerleading, there are countless athletes whose stories deserve to be heard — and I am proud that I can help share them.