2018 in Review: Writing Edition

Another year in my sportswriting journey is coming to a close. I still can’t believe I write about sports, it sometimes feels as though I’m living a dream I never even dreamt. Now that I have the vision for what can come of this path, it’s time to get to work!

Somewhere in the middle of 2018, I focused on pitching more stories. I enjoy the topics I write about, but doing work for free or for very little compensation is not sustainable. Therefore, I tried my hand at pitching more often. I learned a lot and still have a great deal to learn. Here are some of my personal favorite pitches-turned-published-articles from this year.

My first Deadspin piece

Some of these stories came from years of building relationships, especially the Sky Blue FC story. This story took a lot of work and appeared to run into several roadblocks along the way. I worked hard to get this story out and learned a lot about collaboration, advocating for your story, and a number of other things.

Sky Blue Fc and the Chicago Red Stars compete at Yurcak Field at sunset. Photo by Erica L. Ayala

The story I co-wrote with RJ Allen landed at Deadspin, wow! When the article published, I posted it on Facebook and actually had a grad school friend comment he read the story earlier, not realizing I was the author. That was a cool moment for me.

Unfortunately, there are not many updates on the situation from the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), or Sky Blue FC. I highly recommend giving Cloud 9 a follow for the updates (or lack thereof). You can also check out some of the quotes I got that didn’t make the Deadspin article here on my blog.

Race, Politics, and Hockey

My story on Miye D’Oench for ThinkProgress was one I wanted to write for months, but by the time I finally sat to write it, I found myself a bit lost in the story.

Luckily I worked with a great editor who helped me get to the final product. Even then, I felt I left a lot on the table, I added some of the more political stuff to The IX Newsletter. I also hope to revisit some things with Miye closer to the end of the season.

World traveler and absolute go-getter

My interview with Ailish Forfar was one of my favorites! I wrote this for The Ice Garden, so I didn’t need to pitch it. Ailish & I talked about so much that I could easily write several more stories about the Markham Thunder forward.

I look forward to following up with her in the new year. I am especially eager to hear about the service project Ailish is planning in May, as well as her new gig with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Closing one door to open several others

Sojung Shin was the first Olympian I communicated with right after the 2018 Winter Olympics. She and I spoke a few times ahead of the PyeongChang Winter Games hosted by her home country of South Korea.

There is still more to the story of the Unified Korean Team that I hope to explore in 2019. I am very thankful to Sojung for taking the time to exchange emails with me quite literally as she was preparing for the closing ceremonies. From the looks of her Twitter bio, Sojung is doing very well in retirement!

For Love of the Game

Sometimes, I actually get stories suggested to me. One such was a preview of Basketball: A Love Story. I had a lot of fun making this more than just a cut-and-dry preview of the ESPN series by Dan Klores. I was able to speak to both Dan and BIG EAST Commissioner Val Ackerman for this story. Both taught me so much about the history of basketball and its pioneers.

The Forfeit that shocked the WNBA

The next story was one that I took great care in investigating. The Las Vegas Aces opting not to play the Washington Mystics on August 3rd after a grueling 24+ hours spent in transit to the east coast had a lot of implications.

The Aces opting not to play eventually led to a forfeit, their elimination from the 2018 Playoffs, and the first pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft. In the process, a lot of grievances were aired. However, all these months later, I am not convinced it had the impact I initially expected. Read the full story about the Las Vegas Aces HERE.

Oh, Canada!

Finally, I wrote two stories while making my first trip to Canada. I visited Toronto for the 2018 Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The 2018 Hall of Fame class was a stacked, but I was there for two people: Willie O’Ree and Jayna Hefford.

I wrote about Willie O’Ree, Jackie Robinson, and race conversation in hockey for the Fansided. I attempted to get this story placed at a number of outlets. Thanks to a connection from a fellow writer, I was connected with an editor at Fansided and got this story out.

I enjoyed hearing how much O’Ree is respected in the hockey community, but particularly by female players and players of color. From Angela James to Angela Ruggiero to Anson Carter to Bernice Carnegie, everyone was so happy to welcome Willie to his rightful place in hockey history.

I also had the opportunity to chat with commissioners Jayna Hefford (CWHL) and Gary Bettman (NHL) about #OneLeague – the not-top hashtag of 2018 on my personal list. To their credit, the commissioners gave me and a handful of other reports a good amount of time on the topic. However, I don’t think either is able (or perhaps willing?) to delve any further than the surface on what the future of women’s pro hockey will or won’t be.

Overall, 2018 was about me testing the waters as a freelance writer. I am proud of the chances I took and the network I’ve built. Next year, I’m focusing on putting all the pieces together!

Stay tuned, lots more great content coming in 2019! Subscribe to this blog or give me a follow on Twitter (@elindsay08) to keep up with everything.

Happy New Year,

Sincerely,

ELA

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