Thank You.

To keep it PC, I have experienced a lot of less than thrilling classes in college that make me question why my family is paying thousands of dollars for me to take.

*cough* Accounting *cough*

But when I saw that sports media was going to be available as a class this semester I screamed. I finally can take a class that is exactly what I want to do with my future. Never in my life have I ever been so excited for school.

One thing I will always keep in mind from this course is the need for preparation. Going into a game or a press conference and trying to make up a good story when you know nothing beforehand makes your life hell for those couple of hours.

For example, writing a press conference story on Dontre Wilson when you didn’t ask him any questions, you don’t know much about the guy, and you don’t have many quotes from other people about him? Not my brightest moment.

But it’s moments like that that better prepare you for the future.

In my opinion, journalism is not something someone lectures you about—it’s something you have to experience to learn. I have learned more in this one class than any other I’ve take at Ohio State.

I honestly don’t feel like anything about this course should change. While the constant project deadlines were obviously overwhelming, it’s something everyone who is going into the field of sports media will have to get used to eventually.

I feel blessed that I even have the opportunity to go to a school where a class like this is even an option and way more blessed someone like Nicole Kraft was my teacher. Thank you for always pushing us to be our best and not putting up with our BS.

Sports Will Never Be the Same After This Election

As more people become politically aware of topics that were once pushed to the side, no one is safe from scrutiny anymore. The line between what’s not allowed in the everyday world and what is allowed in the tiny sports world bubble is quickly diminishing.

Sports were once a safe haven where people could forget about their problems but not anymore. People are tired of treating franchises and athletes like gods. Just because someone is famous doesn’t mean they can get away with doing things that wouldn’t fly elsewhere.

People are finally seeing those athletes for what they are—just people.

We are in an era where we realize athletes should not receive special treatment for their talents. If a “star swimmer” rapes a woman behind a dumpster, he’s no longer a “star swimmer”. He’s a rapist. The headlines should address him as such.

Black Lives Matter protest in San Francisco, CA.

We are also in an era where athletes are starting to realize the power they hold over the public. Colin Kaepernick and Lebron James coming out about their beliefs is something that has really impacted both the political and sports climate. Kaepernick has created a movement that transcends football and has influenced athletes of all sports to take a stand against institutionalized racism.

Even something as simple as Serena Williams talking about her personal experiences with the police and how she’s scared of how her family might be affected is powerful. It takes away the barrier between celebrity and regular citizen.

It shows that anyone can be affected by what’s going on in society today. No matter what their social status is.

Former NY Giants kicker, Josh Brown, who was recently dismissed after a domestic violence case.

In a climate where a bigot is running for president, it’s especially important for people to speak out against wrongdoings. Domestic violence, for example, is something that is prevalent in this country; particularly in sports. It’s important, now more than ever, for people to shine a light on athletes who assault their wives and children and say that isn’t acceptable.

The sport and political climate in America will only continue to be intertwined post election.

If, for whatever reason, America lands in the hands of Trump, there will probably be way more athletes coming from all different directions to discuss political issues. If we land in the hands of Hillary, we’ll be much better off from a social issues standpoint. But either way after this election, the tie between sports and politics will only continue to grow tighter.

The Sacrifices to Live Your Dream

It’s the fall of 2001 in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Hector Leon and Viviana Peña finally arrive at home at 6 p.m. and are welcomed after a long day of work by one of their daughters, Valeria. While they enjoyed seeing Valeria and her sister, Karina, when they came home, it saddened them to see their children not being active after school hours.

They both decided the pair needed to participate in something to keep them occupied every day. It could have been anything. So Valeria and Karina decided to try their luck with volleyball. From that moment, Valeria knew in her heart that this is where she needed to be. “When I first stepped on the court and I touched the volleyball,” Leon said, “I knew right away. I fell in love with it.”

As the years went on, Leon became more and more dedicated to perfecting her craft. But despite all her successes in Puerto Rico, she still felt she would not cut it in America. Leon’s mother, Viviana, was the one to repeatedly push the conversation of her leaving Puerto Rico to pursue volleyball at the highest level. It was not until she participated in AAU’s in Orlando, Florida that Leon realized her dreams could very well become a reality. There, many American universities showed interest in her talents as a libero—including Ohio State.

Of course, leaving your home country for four years is no easy feat for anyone, especially with a family as tight-knit as the Leons. It was tough for Leon to leave everything she has known and her family to travel to a foreign country to pursue her dreams. She knew she would be missing many important moments in the lives of her loved ones. But a family like theirs does not unravel that easily. In fact, Leon’s physical distance from her family has only brought them closer.

“I love my family with all my heart and I miss them everyday,” Leon said. “Although it breaks my heart to think that I’ve missed some special occasions such as Father’s Day, my sister’s graduation, plenty of birthdays; they are the reason why I wake up every day with the mentality of being a better student, athlete and person. They are my rock and my support system.”

Moving to the U.S. presented other challenges for Leon as well, such as the obvious language barrier. Growing up mainly speaking Spanish, she was not as proficient in English as her future teammates would be. It affected her in her every day life even in ways a native English speaker would not even think of. After months of meeting with a tutor for eight hours a day to keep up with her schoolwork, Leon was finally able to put together complete sentences.

“Some days I wouldn’t eat because I was afraid to order food,” Leon said. “and I didn’t want people to make fun of my accent. But I had people around me that helped me a lot through the process and they made it less painful for me, which that’s something I’m really thankful for.”

From the day of her freshman debut at Ohio State, Leon gave it everything she had. She played in every match her freshman and sophomore seasons and went on to be an Ohio State Scholar-Athlete every single year. On top of climbing the ranks of OSU history in several different statistics such as total digs and digs per set, she has also earned Academic All-Big Ten honors since her sophomore year.

Now as Leon enters her final season, it’s all setting in this will be her last time around the block as an Ohio State Buckeye. However, she tries to keep that all in the back of her mind and focus on the here and now. She wants to focus on being remembered for something more than just her numbers on the stat sheets.

“I want to be able to leave a legacy,” Leon said. “I want my teammates to remember me as someone who played the game the right way, with passion and heart.”

She has grown to touch the hearts of those around her; including her coach, Geoff Carlston, who has seen her grow as an athlete and a person. While he is proud of her accomplishments, he does not want Leon to get too caught up in her last moments. Carlston wants to make sure these last couple of matches are still filled with plenty of enjoyment for all the seniors.

“I’m really happy for her,” Carlston said. “It’s a big deal for her and her family to be able to see the names she’s passing on that list. It’s kind of the who’s who of volleyball history. We’re trying to get the most out of her and make sure she’s enjoying the experience. The last thing I want is for the seniors to put a lot of pressure on themselves about ‘this is the last this, this is the last that’ and keep them enjoying the journey.”

One of the biggest names on that list is Stacey Gordon, a former Buckeye who Leon looked up to when she was a young athlete. Gordon currently holds the school record for total digs (1,572) but Leon is right on her tail with a total of 1,537 digs in her career so far.

With the Ohio State women’s volleyball senior night coming up in November, Leon will soon be officially hit with the reality of her last game at St. John Arena. But as that last volleyball hits the floor and her career comes to a close, she will not be alone. For in that bittersweet moment, her family will be in the stands, cheering her on, having flown in one last time to see her play in scarlet and gray.

“It wasn’t an easy choice for me and when I left Puerto Rico I felt like I left a big part of me. It was so heart breaking but so worth it.”

Here’s Why Cleveland Needs to Win it All

Fate would have it that the two teams with the longest droughts of a World Series championship will possibly come together on Tuesday for Game One of the “Battle of the Cursed “at Progressive Field.

However, if the Chicago Cubs keep playing like they have been against the LA Dodgers, they might hit their 71st year since even showing their faces at the World Series.

The Indians right after claiming the 2016 ALCS Title.

Luckily for all Tribe fans out there, Cleveland just secured their place at the World Series on Wednesday against the Blue Jays.

Here’s the main reason why the Indians need to win this series—this drought is much bigger than them. For whatever reason, 2016 has been the year of Cleveland. Lebron James and the Cavs finally got it together to end the 52 year championship drought for the city so now it’s the Indians’ turn to deliver.

Thankfully, Cleveland is home to an incredible athlete that is talented enough to basically be single-handedly responsible for bringing a championship to the city. So now that one team has cracked the system, Cleveland sports teams have no reason to not win titles.

Maybe not the Browns though. That’s a tragedy even Lebron can’t fix.

The fact of the matter is, right next to definition of “loyalty” in Merriam-Webster, there’s a picture of Cleveland fans. I have never seen a more abused group of sports fans like Cleveland fans. Cleveland is a ride or die city. My advice to everyone is to marry someone from Cleveland because they’ll never leave your side. Nobody knows dedication like them.

The last Chicago Cub team to win a World Series (1908).

Another reason why the Indians need to win this is because if they lose to the Cubs, that means the Curse of the Billy Goat will finally be broken. I don’t know about you, but I personally enjoy the crazy lengths people will go to make sure Chicago wins.

My personal favorite is when someone hung a butchered goat from the Harry Caray statue in October of 2007 and the Cubs went on to win the division title two years in a row. I mean that’s honestly just morbid but hysterical if you’re not a depressed Cubs fan. It just goes to show there’s no fan like a sports fan.

Honestly, it’ll be a win for Chicago to at least be featured in the World Series because even that streak is sad and embarrassing. Sorry, but the Billy Goat cursed the Cubs for an eternity. There’s no way they’re going to win a World Series for a very long time.

Do Not Be Afraid of Intimidation in Reporting

For young journalists working for their school newspaper, it’s easy to feel like you constantly have to walk on egg shells. If you write about a sensitive topic, you can receive backlash not only from the university but from the student body as well.

For those not in journalism, it’s easy to see us as the bad guy for reporting on topics others would prefer to keep on the down low.

The Ohio State Women’s Volleyball team visitng McVicker in the hospital.

In the case of Jillian McVicker, the story became more sticky because so many student journalists know her personally. She is more than another athlete who got an injury.

So in that sense, it goes beyond the university saying to censor the severity of injuries. It becomes “how can I write this story and not seem apathetic or invasive towards Jillian?”

But all that changed once Jillian decided to post about it on her social media. If I were the reporter who was hesitant to write that story, her tweeting about it would have been the green light for me.

This example goes beyond being a reporter. Let’s say a friend of yours had an injury happen to them and you are one of the few people who know. If other people ask you, you might be inclined to tell them because it’s big information that affects people. But you might also be hesitant to talk about it because it was not your injury and you fee like it’s not your place to tell.

The moment the injured friend comes out about their injury, it’s now free game. It becomes public information.

And what do journalists do? Report information to the public.

The First Amendment

It’s understandable student journalists don’t want to cross the line if the university tells them not to write about something. However, the First Amendment stands strong here at Ohio State.

It’s upsetting to think oval preachers can yell about who’s a whore and who’s going to hell without the university saying something. But if someone from The Lantern wants to report on an injured athlete, all of a sudden OSU is like “okay well don’t talk about this part, don’t say this in that way, etc.”

It’s up to us as student journalists to tell relay information regardless of what other organizations try to cover up.

At the end of the day, our jobs are to tell people what is going on in the world; taboo or not. We cannot stifle ourselves because we may hurt someone’s feelings.