Experiences outweigh results

Mike Johrendt, Sports Editor

December 16, 2016 was the date of a 10-7 defeat in the NCAA Division III Football Championship contest.

March 17, 2018 was the date of a 78-72 defeat in the NCAA D-III Men’s Basketball Championship game.

Besides having the losses and locations be the same (Salem, Virginia), there is another similarity between both games: I was there for both losses.

While the emotional rollercoaster may have been immense throughout the games, resulting in two unwanted results, the experience and atmosphere at these events were astonishing and something that will stick with me forever.
When traveling out to the most recent sporting event (in between bouts of 30-minute naps), I was able to reflect on the journey that I have had the pleasure to be on, and it is quite remarkable.

I started writing for The Advance-Titan four years ago as a freshman who wanted to get into sports journalism but had no clue as to how. Since then, the memories I have and the experience I have gained have immensely changed my view on what it takes to be a student journalist.

For my first two-and-a-half years, I was a beat writer that covered many sports, eventually finding my niche sports of cross country, women’s basketball and softball. Of all the sports I would have thought I would be covering, those three would not have even made the list four years ago.

My first experience traveling for media coverage was the 2016 D-III football playoffs as I made the short trek up to Minnesota for a playoff contest between UWO and John Carroll University. This also was my first experience with sport photography, something that always interested me in but I never had time to invest in.

After about three hours (the length of the game), I knew I was more capable of things than I had the slightest idea about, and this was compounded the following week when my photo was slapped the full width of the front page of the A-T.

Having been on the field for UWO’s defeat in the 2016 Stagg Bowl offered a unique look into the investment of players, staff and media into the game, something that really made me love what I was doing. The result obviously was not ideal, but what I gained from that situation was more than what a championship alone could have provided me.

My next stop was coverage of UWO’s women’s basketball team, which made an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen in 2017.

Outside of the game, the four of us who drove down in the soccer mom-mobile were each tasked with writing a story about either the players, the experience or somehow a taxidermied squirrel-turned team mascot. I focused on the outgoing senior class, comprised of four of some of the most successful members in program history.

Just seeing all the passion, teamwork and camaraderie stream down the faces of each player as they spoke about their experiences as a Titan gave me an appreciation for what I did and provided me with a realization that I truly was in a position not afforded to most people.

Flashing forward to 2018, I joined a plethora of fellow A-T’ers on the road, first to Springfield, Ohio, then to Davenport, Iowa and finally to Salem, Virginia for the historical journey made by the men’s basketball squad.

Being thanked repeatedly at a press conference after the team had clinched a berth in the Final Four by both the head coach and players is a very unique and impressionable moment from the trip. Being a journalist may not be the most glamorous role, but receiving thanks like that makes it that much more worth it.

When I described my interest in studying journalism and wanting to become involved in media four years ago, there was a lot of contradicting viewpoints. From it becoming a dying industry to writers receiving a lack of respect while doing their jobs, the futuristic goals of mine seemed bleak.

After sticking with it and powering through, four years later I can say studying journalism was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Even with the skills I have gained to the people who I have met to the experiences I have been a part of, it was not easy.

But to anyone who believes in wanting to chase a dream and to report on and cover the world’s happenings, do it.

You won’t regret it.