Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

A-T editor gets lit at national championship

As a female pursuing a degree in sports journalism, I constantly think about how skewed the ratio of women to men is in this field. It is obvious in the world of sports today that the number of men journalists dominates the number of women journalists.

Prior to attending the NCAA Division III Football Championship Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl in Salem, VA this past weekend as a sports editor for the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, I was pretty well-aware of this. I have only one female writer in the sports section for the Advance-Titan, and I have noticed a larger number of men than women at my job with the Green Bay Packers the last two years.

However, I got a good taste of it first-hand after spending 28 hours in a car with three college-aged male journalists within a span of four days.

As much as I hate to admit it, the knowledge I gained by attending the game and the amount of fun I had on the trip makes up for every annoying moment I had to endure over the weekend.

I think it was on Wednesday, Dec. 3 as I was rereading my football beat writer’s recap about UW Oshkosh defeating St. Thomas in the third round of the tournament when the idea of going to the championship first came to mind. Three members, not including myself, from the A-T traveled to Minnesota for that quarterfinal game and had a great time. It was something I also wanted to be able to experience.

The Titans still had another game to win before heading to the final game and I knew it would be expensive to send the A-T to another game, so I jokingly asked our adviser if we could go to Salem if the opportunity arose. I was shocked and excited when he said absolutely.

For the following three days before the next game, I annoyed the heck out of my friends and parents, bragging about the opportunity to attend the championship.I’m pretty sure my girlfriends think I’m crazy sometimes.

So, the Titans went on to beat John Carroll University on Dec. 10 at home and they were headed to the championship in Salem against the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. I live-streamed the game with my mom and dad and we had a great time watching it. After the Titans won, I screamed “I’m going to Virginia!” about 478 times and a smile stayed on my face the entire day.

Four of us from the A-T were given the opportunity to go on the trip: Austin Walther, the social media manager, Mike Johrendt, the assistant sports editor, Nate Proell, the football beat writer, and myself, the sports editor.

We planned and replanned. We bickered about the hotel we would stay in. We calculated the travel costs. And then we fought some more. Still, we were all so thrilled about the opportunity to attend the game and it was all we talked about the entire week.

On Thursday morning, we went over to Enterprise in Oshkosh to rent a vehicle to use to get to Virginia. I drove the mini-van first, while wearing my “De Pere High School Soccer” parka. The boys decided to refer to me as “soccer mom” for the rest of the time, which they thought was absolutely hilarious.

For the next 14 hours, I witnessed conversations about so many things my parents would be appalled to know about. I was forced to listen to Mike’s terrible rap music and Austin’s stories about creating a college bowl pick’em account for his cat.

I tried to engage in conversations with the three of them by asking handfuls of questions about what they are doing for Christmas, what they asked for from Santa, how their semester went, etc. That didn’t go too well. I think they often got annoyed of me, and would once again resort to calling me soccer mom.

Despire screaming at the boys for driving way too fast through the mountains in West Virginia, we eventually made it to our hotel in Salem in one piece. The three guys thought the multitude of “falling rock” signs along the highway were especially funny and envisioned different scenarios of what we would do if a giant boulder came tumbling toward us.

When we got to the Quality Inn Hotel around 1 a.m. on Friday morning, we checked in at the lobby and ran into an alumnus from Mary Hardin-Baylor by the front desk. We started chatting with him and he explained how he and his party recently arrived as well and found a roll of toilet paper shoved into the toilet in their bathroom. Becoming increasingly tired, the “warm” and “pleasant” conversation added to my extreme crabbiness.

After waking up on Friday morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel lobby and decided to explore the town of Salem. We then swung by Salem Stadium where the Titans would be playing later that night to pick up our media credentials and check out the field.

We ran into a bit of trouble when trying to get our media credentials because Austin “accidentally” forgot to include himself when filling out the paperwork the previous week. He registered Nate, Mike, and myself but forgot about himself which frustrated the lady at the media desk because she had to process him another badge.

After figuring out the credential situation, a city worker of Salem snuck us into the stadium, but we later got yelled at by an NCAA official and had to leave.

For lunch, we ate at this really creepy Italian restaurant. We were the only ones in the entire place, but the food ended up being really good. Our server forgot we were there, though, and we had to go into the kitchen to ask for our bill.

Next, we headed to the stadium for the game at around 5 p.m.

Another exciting aspect to the game was how nice the weather was compared to Oshkosh. We put on our winter boots, dressed in layers, and thought we were ready to face the 20 degree temperature.

We were so wrong about it. My toes were numb by the time kick-off rolled around. I still wonder how some of the football players warmed up without a shirt on before the game.

Mike and I were the two on-field photographers for the game, while Nate and Austin got to sit up in the press box and focus on live-tweeting the game. After the game, they complained to Mike and I about how hot it was in the box and how they had to crack a window because it was just so unbearable. We made a deal that if the Titans are back in the championship next year, Mike and I are sitting in the press box and the other two are taking pictures on the field.

Because it was so cold, Mike and I each got to take turns standing by one of the two space heaters by the Titans’ bench. While he was covering half the field, I warmed up and once the team got to my half of the field, Mike got to stand by the space heater.

About 10 minutes into the first quarter, I was standing by the heater and a gust of wind must have moved my parka into the heater because it felt like my leg was burning. I looked down and there was a small flame covering the end of my jacket and eating at my sweatpants. I was able to get the fire out with my hand but it destroyed a chunk of my parka and left a huge hole in my pants and into my leggings underneath.

Scared by what just occurred, I bolted over to Mike and texted the boys up in the box, but there wasn’t much anyone could do. I looked like an idiot for the rest of the game and my left leg was sore from the burn. About a dozen people came up to me asking if I was alright and a medic pretty much begged me to drop my pants so he could examine the injury. I refused.

Other than almost burning to death, I had an absolute blast at the game. It was a battle of the two defenses and it came down right to the last minute. I loved taking pictures of the crazy fans and the excited players, making it the most fun thing I have ever shot.

Although the Titans lost 7-10, all of the players remained positive during the press conference and in the locker room following the game.

After the game, the four of us, the two guys from the UWO radio station and the guy from Titan TV went out for a very late, 11:30 p.m., dinner. On Saturday morning, we left Virginia at 8 a.m. and headed back to Wisconsin.

Because of the weather being so bad on our trek home, we reserved a last-minute hotel about an hour west of Indianapolis and spent the night swimming and watching college bowl games.

We made it back to Enterprise in Oshkosh at about 2 p.m. on Sunday and then all made our way back to our home towns for winter break.

Traveling to Salem for the National Championship was one of the best journalism-related experiences I have ever been apart of. I deeply enjoyed following the Oshkosh football team this fall, from attending games to talking with players to reading articles and recaps.

I want to thank all of the amazing people who donated to the “#WeNeedTheAT” fundraiser last year. Without you guys, this trip wouldn’t have happened.

And lastly, although I would have loved some more girl power on the trip, I wouldn’t trade the experience and the knowledge I gained for the world.

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Morgan Van Lanen, Editor in Chief

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