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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

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Embracing and appreciating the unexpected

People frequently ask me what I want to do with my life and career in the long run. It’s a question that I (and we all) should probably have an answer to, but, to be honest, I hate answering it.

If you’re unfamiliar with me — and I don’t blame you one bit if you are — being the new sports editor at The Observer fits in as just one piece in the puzzle of my experience here at Notre Dame. I have two majors — one in business analytics and another in film, television and theatre — along with a minor in sport, media and culture. I also contribute regularly to Notre Dame Television, broadcast as many as five games in a week at Fighting Irish Media and will soon take over as a sports director at WVFI Radio. 

Do I have a precise idea of who I am or what I want to do for the rest of my life yet? No. Do I really want to have an answer for either of those questions right now? Also, no.

If that sounds somewhat unreasonable, well, it probably is. Many of my friends will probably make more than me right out of college. Most will certainly lead a more predictable and reliable lifestyle than the one that sports media offers to 22-year-olds.

So why would I, in making the jump to the sports editor role, continue to chase that future? That question has occupied my mind frequently over the last two months. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that I don’t have to look too far beyond myself for the answer. It’s why I love sports and the media landscape around it to begin with.

When I first got into sports broadcasting and journalism in late 2019, my first role involved providing play-by-play commentary for live streams of my high school’s football and basketball games. The first basketball game I covered went to overtime on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. The third ended on the same type of shot, one that defeated the top-ranked team in the state. Then, after a long summer of 2020, the second football game I did featured a 26-point comeback in the fourth quarter.

I quickly realized that those chaotic moment, where everything I thought I knew went flying out the window, meant a whole lot more to me than nights when I showed up to the arena and everything went exactly as planned. The beauty behind the madness kept me coming back, and now it has me here.

Upon arriving at Notre Dame in 2022 as the son of an alumna, I brought in plenty of expectations. I expected to cry while singing my first post-football game Alma Mater (Marshall, as we all know, had other plans). I expected to love everything about the campus and my experience with it, too.

And while many of those expectations have translated into the reality of my first two years here, many have not. I have a moment at least once a month where I want to write a hit piece on the washing machines of Keough Hall, for example. The picturesque fall Saturdays I soaked in as a child issued to me no warning of the impending permacloud.

Looking back, the outcome of the expected has had nothing to do with shaping my experience as a college student. Instead, I reflect most fondly on the moments I never thought possible two Augusts ago. Like the goofy editorial board arguments that arise in the late hours of an Observer production shift. Or the boundless anticipation of Friday and Saturday mornings before covering Notre Dame hockey games.

But sometimes embracing the unexpected isn’t as easy. When I signed off on becoming the next sports editor here in the middle of February, my expectations of the position were, well, daunting to say the least. I understood how endlessly my good friend Andrew McGuinness had worked before me to run a well-functioning sports department, and I had my doubts about whether I could to the same. Time after time, I asked myself, “How do I think this will go?”

At some point, I drowned that question in Saint Mary’s Lake, and my entire perspective changed. No longer did I take an approach of pretending to know despite having never tried. No more did I allow ideas of how things should be block the possibilities of what they could be.

Returning to the present, I bring that same outlook to my role at The Observer. As much as I would like to think that just one year in a newspaper’s 58-year history won’t move the needle much, who am I kidding? Notre Dame lacrosse is barreling into the postseason with two of the best teams we’ve ever seen. Saint Mary’s golf has somehow picked up a 32-year Division I head coach by mere coincidence. And of course, the College Football Playoff may visit South Bend for the first time ever in just eight short months.

With all of that in mind, nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. That can be a scary thought, especially for college students like us. But once you learn to love it, you’ll find there’s so much more to life than whatever you hope for or expect to happen.

So stay with us on the journey, and keep looking forward to the next page, the next day and the next big moment. Together, let’s embrace the unexpected.

You can contact Tyler at treidy3@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.