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Letter from the Editor:  A reflection on the stories that shaped the Sports and Lifestyle sections at the Gauntlet

By Rodrigo Verney, May 26 2024—

There are rare moments in life when passion and work coincide. To me, the beauty of life lies in living through every step of the way during these moments. To be thankful for the places your passion takes you and the people that it introduces you to while laughing at the worries, expectations and troubles that seemed so important at that time.

My two-year journey in student journalism as the Sports and Lifestyle Editor of the Gauntlet has come to a close. I am thankful to have learned so much about the craft itself. However, one lesson stood out from the rest, specifically because no one can prepared me for it: How much of a journalist’s soul is present in every article written. An outsider commonly thinks that to be a great journalist, you must be unbiased. Although that is true, that statement tells you nothing about how much you will be moved by every piece that you write. 

What started as a means to celebrate our Dinos while also relaxing my mind from the chores of student life quickly became a passion.  While I loved seeing my articles reaching the audiences that wanted to learn more about our teams, I stepped into a section that needed reformation. I am glad to have been able to reach further into the inner workings of multiple Dinos teams and present the University of Calgary sports community in a fun and accessible way to the public. 

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I started to focus on uncovering the great people that make up the Dinos community. I met incredible athletes like Montana Leonard and Victoria Tse and helped them get the recognition they deserved with thorough profiles to detail their journeys and motivations. Not long after those articles were published, I watched their careers grow. People took an interest in them and their sports, bringing a new wave of readers who wanted to know more about what the Dinos had to offer. I learned that great journalist connects the stories they write about to the communities that want to read them.

I created subsections within Sports and Lifestyle to better connect readers to the Dinos, showing them in different formats. It was a pleasure to see these columns flourish. “For Starters” got people excited to help others start a sport  that they hadn’t done before. “What’s for Dinner” brought a humorous and lighthearted approach to sports. “Hottest Takes” allowed volunteers to discuss their opinions and diversify the archaic view that sports should be just recaps and reports. Under the lifestyle section, “Hidden Gems” revealed new corners of the city, allowing readers and volunteers alike to rediscover Calgary all while helping newcomers find spots that speak to them.

Towards the latter part of my term, I had to remind myself to appreciate what that job was all about. Sports brings people together and I was distancing myself from the community that loved it just as much as I did. I started to remember all the small things — butchering a question on a live game, one-on-one interviews that last far longer than expected, asking “What went wrong?” to an angry coach after a loss, being able to attend the games and talking to the people that make all of those events happen.

The memories of the bigger picture will always stand out too. I am incredibly humbled to have been able to not only talk to but report on Wayne Harris, a man whose unwavering love for the game teaches lessons that go beyond the field. Interviewing the sixth head coach in Dinos’ history always felt more like an opportunity to learn than to get an answer. I was also lucky enough to witness two Crowchild Classics played at the iconic Saddledome. One of which featured one of the best iterations of the men’s Dinos’ hockey team in the 2022-23 season.

If I were to look at the road one more time and walk down the same path I now finished, I would face it with this one resolution in mind: what matters throughout is the bonds we make, the experiences we witness, and the stories we tell. I believe I have found the answer to the question that I so thoroughly asked myself and if I were to talk to a more naive version of who I am today, I would tell him that what makes a great journalist is the capability of perceiving and understanding the human behind every story.

Good luck to the oncoming Sports and Lifestyle Editor, Maggie Hsu. An excellent writer with the knowledge and ambition necessary to continue to develop these sections further. I, and readers alike, are excited to see her vision come to fruition and will be watching closely every step of the way. 

I extend my gratitude and admiration to some of the people who I had the pleasure of working with: Dinos Communication Manager, Lance Mackenzie; Head Coaches Dan Vahooren, Damian Jennings, Wayne Harris, and Mark Howell; as well as former Head Coach Carla McLeod. I also want to acknowledge the dedication and talent of all the Dinos athletes, past and present, who have contributed to this journey. Finally, immense appreciation goes to the entire Dinos community and fans for their support. You have made the past two years of  interviewing, writing and reporting worthwhile.

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