Don't Dream it's Over
Bittersweet has never been a more perfect word.
As I sit here with my American cup of coffee, which is essentially water according to the rest of the world, I reflect on three difficult, draining but mostly rewarding weeks in my life.
I am happy to be home with my family and to come home to my beautiful Christmas tree, but I feel a sort of emptiness that is hard to explain. It is almost like Uruguay and the 16 Young Reporters as well as the three mentors each walked away with a piece of me.
People say if you love what you do you will never work a day in your life and I truly think I have found my passion in covering sports. I love being around sport and telling the stories of athletes.
There, I felt purpose. I woke up early every morning ready to conquer the long days of hard work in sports journalism, but I loved every single second of it. More importantly, I loved the people that I was surrounded by.
When I am home, in between jobs, I am overcome with the stress of what is to come next in my life. It made leaving this amazing opportunity and these amazing people that much harder.
Lizzy (Ji Hyun) was the first to leave. She had her sister’s wedding in South Korea so she had to leave a few days earlier than the rest. When she left it started to hit us all, we all had to say goodbye.
My last few days in Uruguay were amazing for many reasons. We covered the World Cup third place match and the final, and I was selected to take place in a FIFA Instagram takeover, so some of my content that I posted on my Instagram account was posted on the FIFA World Cup Instagram account.
We watched two intense matches, first between Canada and New Zealand for third place where New Zealand took the bronze and then between Mexico and Spain where Spain became the World Champions. Even at the under-17 level, it was awesome to be in attendance and to be able to watch these young women achieve such excellence.
At halftime of the final we were handed our diplomas by FIFA Chief Women’s Football Officer, Sarai Bareman and three women’s football legends, Karina Leblanc (Canada), Aline Pellegrino (Brazil) and Veronica Buquete (Spain). They gave welcoming cheers and hugs for each and every one of us as we were recognized for our hard work. It was a humbling moment.
After the games we went to dinner at El Tigre for our own awards ceremony and celebration. Over the course of the three weeks the 16 of us had been in competition with each other earning points for various tests, assignments, opportunities, etc. The mentors gave out various awards for different categories and the top five young reporters were recognized with trophies.
For the majority of the time in Uruguay I was in third place behind Phillip from New Zealand, an amazing sports journalist who has been working in the industry for many years now. He was above and beyond exemplary for what we were all looking to be as reporters. I also trialed Daniel from Spain, who is another extremely talented journalist. He works in radio and has a knack for storytelling and is a very hard worker.
The last week the mentors did not tell us where we were in the rankings and when they announced the top 5 it was as followed:
5- Hinni from Finland—A hard-working journalist who is passionate about football and she always speaks her mind.
4- Anne from Germany—A competitive investigative reporter who specializes in sports and politics. She is extremely smart and asks brilliant questions.
3- Phillip from New Zealand—As a mentioned before, an extremely talented journalist who provided excellent coverage of the historic u-17 women’s football team from New Zealand throughout the entirety of the three weeks. He wrote 21 stories for his home outlet as well as providing coverage for AIPS… Very inspirational for me.
2- Daniel from Spain-- As mentioned before, another talented sports journalist who specializes in radio broadcasting. He provided coverage of the Spain u-17 women’s team who won the World Championship. He is extremely knowledgeable of all sports across the world and is someone I have a lot of respect for.
1- Me—I climbed two spots at the end after putting together a video for the AIPS website and pulling an all-nighter to edit the video to get it done by the deadline. It was a shock to me, but I was honored.
Then just like that, it was over. It was time for the worst part: Goodbyes. We received the list from Keir with our departure times to head off to the airport. We made sure that we met in the lobby at each departure time to see each other off. Every time tears were shed.
Clara and I had the same departure schedule. My plane was scheduled for 8:30 p.m., hers for 8:35. We left for the airport together and made it in time to catch our mentor, Martin for an emotional goodbye.
Then we sat and waited for hours, feeling sick.
I’ve never met someone like Clara. Although she is only 20-years-old she has so much life. We instantly clicked as friends and she is someone that I will always trust and remember for the rest of my life. She was more than just a roommate to me. We had many talks about life and what we were meant to do. She knows me and I know her better than some of the people I have claimed to know for years.
When we said goodbye, it hurt really, really bad. There were a lot of tears, but she said to me, “I know I will see you again soon. I feel it.” And I believe her.
The worst part about all of this is that I know that Uruguay will soon become a memory for me as much as I want to hold on. It was the most amazing experience and I know I will take many lessons I have learned with me into my career and my life.
I very thankful for Dave Goren of the National Sports Media Association for recommending me, and for AIPS for giving me this opportunity.
Thank you all for reading,