Coming from a background of the odd match report for my local sports sides, my journalistic experience was extremely limited when arriving into UCD in 2014. Having signed up to the University Observer in the societies tent during freshers week, it took until the penultimate issue of Volume XXI for me to start writing for the sports section.
Seeing my name in print for the first time was something I’ll always remember. I took a step up for the next volume, when I was made Sports Editor. The sense of creative freedom afforded to me by the editorial team for XXII was a huge plus. The ‘Club Focus’ section which remains in the paper to this day, was initially my baby.
Within six weeks of becoming Sports Editor, I was hired for my first freelance gig, when the folks at Paddy Power (whose Power Tower offices are the big orange building you can see in the backdrop of Richview & the UCD Bowl) emailed in to the editor looking for a sports writer. It was a big step up - but I was prepared, mainly from the production weekends spent passive-aggressively emailing my contributors, looking for half of the 6,000 words needed to fill the pages. Once I had managed that, covering the likes of the Cheltenham Festival and the European Championships in the summer of 2016 for an award winning sports website was a doddle.
That year, one of the contributors was awarded the ‘Sports Writer of the Year’ at the Smedias, while the paper itself won ‘Newspaper of the Year’, something I was immensely proud of helping to make happen. The pressure was somewhat off my back for Volume XXIII, as I remained as co-Sports Editor with the aforementioned writer, though having moved to Balls.ie, the workload, in my final year, was the same. Once again, we won ‘Sports Writer of the Year’ at the Smedias.
My time at the UO became invaluable when in October of last year, I was brought in to become a sub-editor for the sports section of the Irish Daily Star, having worked for the online equivalent of the paper, buzz.ie, since May. Being a part of three UO Volumes, despite the pressure, was something I count myself lucky to have done. The colleagues I worked with became my friends and the relentless heat of the UO office has prepared me for the inevitability of global warming and the 50 degree summers.
The skills I learned are used every day in my job, and no matter where you end up after being a part of it, the UO sticks with you.