The drive from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, to North Philadelphia was quick on a Wednesday night in February 2020. As I arrived at my apartment, I ran inside to change my clothes and was back out the door with a Coca-Cola in my hand.
It was 11 p.m. once I got to the TECH Center. I was tired and unmotivated after working a six-hour shift at a restaurant, but I needed to finish an assignment for my Journalism Innovation and Design class that was due on Friday afternoon.
I was a sophomore journalism major with no clear vision of what I wanted to pursue. I dabbled in magazine writing and broadcasting without a niche. I didn’t have time to commit to student organizations because of my work schedule.
My life slowed down for the first time in March 2020. I disconnected from my job, school and friends. I realized I had to prioritize my future despite every brick wall in my way, like companies not hiring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I received cancellation emails for summer programs, and I felt like I had zero options. I regretted not getting involved in different organizations, feeling like I was behind and it was too late.
While searching for internships, I received an email from David Mindich, chair of the Journalism Department, about editor positions at The Temple News. Although I felt under qualified because I’d never written for the newspaper, I applied to be assistant Sports editor and Features editor.
On May 13, 2020, I received an email from Madison Karas, the editor in chief at the time, saying she wanted to talk about my experiences and what I could offer to the paper.
As I spoke with her, my hands were shaky and I had a pit in my stomach – I wanted this opportunity so badly. Although my writing wasn’t the best, I knew becoming a part of The Temple News would further develop my skills.
Two weeks later while riding my bike, a phone call interrupted my Crime Junkie Podcast. I pulled over to the sidewalk frantically trying to get my phone out of my pocket.
“Hello!” I said in an overly-high pitched voice.
“Hey Bella,” Madison answered. She offered me the assistant sports editor position for the 2020-21 academic year. I was ecstatic.
I told her yes of course, signing up for a role I knew nothing about.
I became immersed in the job. I was on the Temple men’s basketball beat by the spring semester, editing stories and writing sports features.
At the end of the year, I applied to return for my senior year as sports editor. I could expand the sports coverage more as the head editor with my previous experience.
Coming back as sports editor my senior year strengthened my knowledge across all sports. I had the chance to cover in-person events, which helped me build relationships with players and Temple’s athletic administration.
I didn’t fully value my job as a sports reporter until my conversation with former Temple University football safety Amir Tyler in November 2021. We were outside of Edberg-Olson Hall, and he talked about the adversity he experienced as a kid and how he overcame those struggles to earn a Division I football scholarship.
“I was used to going on the block and looking up to mentors that were selling drugs or making money in the streets,” Tyler said.
I couldn’t wait to write the story because he inspired me. Tyler told me it’s important to remember where you come from, but at the end of the day, what really matters is the person you become, which stuck with me.
I wanted to tell Tyler I understood what it’s like coming from an untraditional two parent household. Being raised by my dad taught me to have a strong work ethic — one that motivated me to go to the TECH Center late after work.
Stories like Tyler’s are why I love sports writing. I knew going to college was a privilege. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it to graduation day with a journalism degree, but I’m glad I figured it out.
Becoming assistant sports editor at The Temple News my junior year opened many doors for me. It sounds dramatic, but I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for the chance to work here. I’ll be forever grateful for that.
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