By Astasia Williams
We are at that point again. That point of another quarter coming to a close. I must say, this quarter went over and beyond my expectations.
Don’t get me wrong, quarter one was great. The Medill nostalgia was still sinking in. But this quarter was about adventures. It was about endless guests, like Bob Ryan, Mike Emrick and Michele Steele. And it was about personally exploring how far I could be pushed to get a story.
A prime example was an enterprise story assignment we had to do in our News Reporting class. Enterprise stories are not easy, but they are necessary to learn how to do. As a sports reporter, you need to learn how to report a 1,200-1,500-word story about an idea that doesn’t revolve around a game. I did my story about college athletes and mental illnesses. This wasn’t the easiest topic to report on, and it involved a lot of phone calls and tough interviews. But to me, this career is all about being uncomfortable. If I’m not comfortable in journalism, then I’m not doing something right.
While there were some obstacles, there were amazing rewards to this quarter.
Medill Explores was a trip where the Medill MSJ program took a week to visit certain places across the world for either reporting and/or networking opportunities. I had the chance to attend the New York City sports trip, and we visited almost every publication you can think of, from The New York Times to Sports Illustrated to the Player’s Tribune. We even made a pit stop at MLB Networks. STUDIO 42 IS AMAZING!
I also had the chance, along with three of my classmates, to cover the Brooklyn Nets basketball game against the Washington Wizards with Medill alum Barbara Barker. Being in the Barclays Center was like being at a concert. The in-game production and energy people put in to make sure the entertainment is top notch was amazing.
Barbara introduced us to a few other New York writers and let us write game stories on deadline; there’s nothing more exciting than writing on deadline with a game that goes in overtime. Of course, it was also the same night of the madness with Charles Oakley in Madison Square Garden. I think we had the easier story in Brooklyn.
Medill Explores was truly amazing. I am beyond thankful for the opportunities and people I had the chance to meet during that week. When I returned to campus, it was time to get back to the grind.
Being a sports journalism student at Northwestern during this year’s basketball season was truly iconic. Getting to see this team have the historic season it did and being able to discover how passionate the fans are about Wildcats Basketball was astounding.
For about a month, my life revolved around Northwestern Basketball. I watched THE PLAY vs Michigan — the play that will be told as a magical tale for generations and generations.
— Astasia Williams (@AstasiaWill) March 2, 2017
The last few games in Welsh-Ryan arena were at a new level and something I’m happy I got to experience as a student and journalist.
Once that Michigan game ended, it was time to head to the Big Ten Women’s Basketball tournament in Indianapolis the next morning. It was my first big tournament. Chills. I basically learned as I went, although that was the best part about it. You learn as you do.
Once that trip ended, it was time to speed back to Chicago. Because the very next day, the last home game in Welsh-Ryan Arena and last regular season men’s basketball game was happening, and it would be televised on CBS for the first time since 2011. Unfortunately, I totally missed my opportunity to meet Grant Hill and I will regret that forever. There’s no need to go into detail about that game. Just know the environment was, in the words of Drake, “Top-5, top-5, top-5.” The game ended with a Purdue win. But that didn’t matter. People were ready to get down to the floor for their pictures before construction began and changed Welsh-Ryan forever.
Little did they know Welsh-Ryan had one more treat in store. Northwestern’s first ever NCAA Selection Show Watch Party took place in the Cats’ home one week later. Yes, everyone knew the Wildcats were going dancing. But that moment when Northwestern appeared on screen as the No. 8 seed to take on Vanderbilt in Salt Lake City, there was no holding back the tears and screams.
You can bet on my grandmother’s gumbo that I was not going to miss being a witness to the first ever NCAA tournament win in Salt Lake City.
Stay tuned to read about my experience.