SANTANNA: Covering athletes gives opportunity to find yourself

Kaitlin Santanna

All I really need to know I learned from Villanova sports.

OK, so that’s a bit of an overstatement. What is true, though, is the major role that Villanova, its sports teams and its newspaper have had on my life.

I was never one of those people who knew what they were going to be when they grew up from a young age. I changed my future occupation frequently throughout high school and into college. During my senior year of high school, all I knew was that I loved sports and the Advanced Placement statistics course I was taking. Despite the fact that I had never considered math as a major before, I started ranking colleges based on their math and statistics departments.

I had an inkling that I might be interested in journalism as well, but I chose numbers over words. I selected Villanova from the multitude of schools I visited because I love the math department and its secretaries who have served as my second mothers while I have been enrolled here.

Even though I named math as my major, I still had a need to fulfill my journalistic thirst. I joined The Villanovan sports staff the fall of my freshman year. While rookie reporters occasionally complain about their first assignments, I was elated. I was allotted the women’s soccer team as my very first collegiate story.

This first assignment turned into my regular beat for three falls, and it opened my eyes and heart to the possibility of becoming a journalist after I left the safe haven of Villanova. Though I had been a sports fan all my life, I learned the joy of following a team from a journalistic standpoint. I was able to report the many successes the team experienced under the Jillian Loyden/Ann Clifton era. Whether covering the games while it was downpouring or sunny, I enjoyed every second of covering the girls through those three seasons. When my feature article on Loyden appeared on CBSSportsnet late in my second season following the team, I experienced a thrill and excitement that could only foreshadow my future journalism career aspirations.

In the following spring, my relationship with math had taken a turn for the worse. I still enjoyed working with numbers, but the often frustrating process that math brings about was beginning to take its toll. I did not want to leave math, a testament to the fact that it is still one of my majors, but I realized that I could not imagine spending the rest of my life actually doing the things I was learning in class.

I could, however, see myself as a journalist. One day almost exactly two years ago, I decided that I needed to add communication as one of my majors. The transition into journalism classes was an easy one for me because of my background with The Villanovan. Even though I loved my communication classes and writing sports for the paper, I still did not realize that journalism could be my future profession and remained undecided about my life after college.

Throughout my life, I wasn’t the star athlete even though I love to play and follow sports with a passion. I loved music, but I knew that I could never be a performer for a living. I was not the star student even though I love to learn. I didn’t know where I fit into all of these things I love.

Then, one day after an issue of The Villanovan came out, it hit me. I may not be able to do any of these things, but what I could do was write about them.

I began to become more involved with my journalism, taking on feature articles, becoming the assistant sports editor and writing columns. As my writing experiences grew, I realized that not only do I love to write, but people enjoyed my writing. I could make a difference putting words together in a particular way, expressing things in a way only I could. This intrigued me as I recognized the fact that I finally found my place in the world.

This past January I presented myself with a new challenge, writing columns. Although it was originally frightening to share my views of particular subjects with the world, it has been one of the most rewarding and educational experiences on the paper. Through my columns, I recognized that I have a voice and things that interested and moved me were relatable to others as well. It amazed me that I could affect people with things that I wrote.

As I sat down to collect my thoughts for my final contribution to The Villanovan, I realized I’ve been writing this column for three years. Ever since I read my first goodbye article my freshman year, I always wondered what my own departure would say. I wondered where I would be and what memories I would have to discuss.

That fateful day has finally come. I still don’t know where I’m going to be after graduation, but I do have an irreplaceable and overflowing collection of memories from my time here at Villanova. A portion of those memories are tied to sports, both as a journalist and as a fan.

Along with leaving with these memories, I know that Villanova sports have given me another exceptional gift, my future.

I have learned more at Villanova, both in the classroom and about myself, than I could ever fit into this column. I have discovered my point of view and the ability to share that outlook with others. I have learned to open myself to new experiences. Most importantly, I’ve learned to trust my future and to look forward to what’s ahead, whatever that may be.

Villanova and its sports teams have affected me in a way that I never could have imagined when I signed up to write for the paper at my first activities fair. For that I am eternally indebted to my alma mater and the operation that takes place in 201 Doughterty. You gave me more to live for, more than you’ll ever know.


Kaitlin Santanna is a senior mathematics and communication major from Hummelstown, Pa. She can be reached at [email protected]