Sports writing threw me a curveball

By Camille Shooshani

In September, I couldn’t tell you how a faceoff worked. Or what a tight end did. Or why a pickle had anything to do with baseball.

I was blissfully unaware of almost anything sports-related. I tuned it out and limited my thoughts on the topic to David Beckham and Posh Spice.

Fast forward nine months and I’m writing features about the baseball team, skimming the Los Angeles Times Sports section daily and spending hours flipping through lacrosse photos.

When I was thrust into the sports section of the Chronicle at the end of my sophomore year, I was terrified. My ignorance baffled my entire section.

I once made the mistake of thinking out loud, “I really need to get my nails done.”

They haven’t let me live it down since. It was almost as bad as when I asked who Joe Torre was or why anyone really cared about March Madness.

“Did the sports section head just say that?” they repeated over and over.

Volley? RBI? Charity stripe? English was quickly losing all familiarity because now we were speaking another language. Somehow I was expected to write a story in this foreign tongue. The constant barrage of seemingly meaningless chatter left me dizzy.

It was pretty embarrassing, at first. Imagine trying to interview a coach about a sport you can barely understand. I got a lot of blank stares and confused looks.

Suddenly though, I was spending my Fridays at football games and afternoons at tennis matches. In a year filled with stress, I found myself spending more time reporting sports news than working on any homework.

As soon as I got a grip on my sport for the season, a new one began, presenting me with a whole new playbook.

It wasn’t the rules, players or coaches that overwhelmed me. It was knowing what was actually relevant.

By the time spring sports season rolled around, I somehow ended up covering one of the school’s most high profile sports. With two MLB recruits and an almost guaranteed league title, baseball was a big deal.

I fumbled through my first game. It took two hours with help from my co-section writer to get down a solid 90 words.

I will never master the intricacies of sports writing to the extent of any professional reporter, or even to the extent of my co-section heads. I’ll always need a little bit of clarification.

It’s a new perspective, though, a place I could have never seen myself nine months ago. I’m the type of person who likes to stick to what’s familiar, but sports writing forced me to branch out.

When my adviser placed me in the sports section, I’m pretty sure she had no idea what she was getting me into. It’s probably one of the best things that’s ever accidently happened to me. It was a blessing disguised very, very well.

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