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Time spent covering Northern Colorado sports teaches appreciation
Now that my time as sports editor is officially over, I have been looking back at this past year and have seen a lot of changes and lessons from UNC athletics.
I took over the position April of last year and one of my first stories I had was about the women’s golf team winning the Big Sky Conference. One of the least discussed teams on campus had just won a championship but how many people knew? How many of you reading knew before this paragraph?
This was something I was guilty of too. I was always good about paying attention to the big-name sports, but when it came to a sport I don’t really follow, I was clueless. But I started to realize how every single athlete puts countless hours into his or her sport, regardless of the fans, to compete.
And those athletes and coaches who play in the sports with less attention are also the ones who seem to appreciate the coverage the most. I don’t mean to say that the other coaches and athletes take it for granted, but it is clear the less visible participants appreciate it.
The fall brought football, and it also showed what dedication, belief, faith and skill can do. I was able to see the Bears win their first game since my sophomore year, which I was only able to experience via radio since it was on the road. After watching the team last year, there was no doubt in my mind the team would be learning from last year’s mistakes and make this season a memorable one. Head coach Earnest Collins Jr.’s team didn’t stop at just one win, either. Collins also led his program to the best season it has had since prematurely moving up to Division I in 2006.
The emotions Collins and his team showed on game days and during practices translated into yards, tackles, sacks and touchdowns.
In the winter, it was a tale of two basketball programs: one of which continued to break records, and one working to regain its stature of two years ago. The women’s team had one of its best seasons since I’ve been here, seeing new success in reaching the second round of the WNIT. This team has been one of the most overlooked teams at UNC, without reason.
Without hesitation, though, the team continues to excel — no matter who is and isn’t watching.
The men’s team has shown me how history works as motivation and shows a team’s true potential. Two years ago, I got to cheer on the Bears as they won the Big Sky Championship at home. The energy of Butler-Hancock was unmatched, but the 2011 graduating class left a young team asked to step up and fill the shoes of UNC’s recent history. The team knows its capability, and with constant contributors returning, knows the feeling of a championship season can be enough motivation for a winning spirit.
As I turn in my writer’s cap for pursuits beyond the undergraduate level, I want to point out that the stories each team has seen unfold are those sports journalists will be able to write forever and can serve as lessons to those just observing from the stands.