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ROUNDTABLE: What we’re thankful for this Thanksgiving

Even with a historically bad football season, there’s so much to be thankful for.

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Gavin Dorsey: Northwestern softball & Kate Drohan (and this amazing site)

Last spring, I had the pleasure of covering one of the most fun teams on campus, who defied expectations and went from unranked to a Women’s College World Series berth. From writing my feature on Rachel Lewis’ record-breaking season to covering the NCAA Tournament run to traveling to Oklahoma City myself, the team was a blast to cover. The players and coaches were great to talk to in interviews and press conferences, and the team as a whole always brought the energy in every game it played. With so many key pieces coming back from last year, I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Secondary answer: I’m incredibly thankful for the Inside NU community and all of our readers. When I joined the site two years ago, I had no idea of all the amazing opportunities covering Northwestern sports would bring me, or the joy I’d get in even publishing a simple recap article, let alone running the site as the Editor in Chief. I’ve had the chance to lead a wonderful staff of writers and work with a phenomenal group of managing editors, and I love interacting with our readers and knowing that people enjoy the content we’re putting out. Joining this site is easily the best decision I’ve made at Northwestern, and the readers, the commenters and the staff continue to make it all worth it.

Bradley Locker: Northwestern's enriching sports community

This summer and fall has given me so many unbelievable opportunities that I could have only dreamt of with Inside NU. From traveling to Indianapolis to cover the Big Ten Football Media Days to writing feature stories on female Northwestern Hall-of-Fame athletes and Peter Skoronski, I never fail to consider how lucky I have been to watch some of the best athletes in the world or talk to coaches/personnel in incredibly high positions.

Of course, that all pales in comparison to the people around the athletics. When traveling to Iowa City or Minneapolis, for example, it was unbelievable to run into the friendly faces of Northwestern student journalists in the press box. The NU sports journalism contingent has been extremely supportive and collaborative in not only pursuing distinct stories, but also in sharing the work of other platforms and in making genuine relationships. Sometimes, it’s as simple as carpooling (which Gavin knows a thing or two about, haha); other times, it’s listening to fellow sports reporters talk about creating safe spaces in journalism. No matter the topic or setting, I know I can lean on the people that cover Northwestern.

That extends beyond media, too. Being able to ask questions to and pick the brains of top, well-respected coaches in Pat Fitzgerald, Chris Collins, Joe McKeown and many more is always surreal. Wildcat athletes are consistently thoughtful, well-spoken and candid in sharing their opinions about a bevy of topics. And you, the reader, help comprise a knowledgeable, passionate audience that just so happens to read the work we create. No matter how conferences realign or teams perform, I’m eternally grateful to be able to count on those in purple playing and watching.

Iggy Dowling: Widespread appreciation for Olympic sports at Northwestern

This one hit me on the way to cover the football game at Purdue with our own Gavin Dorsey and Ethan Segall last Friday. As flurries began to fly onto the windshield of Gavin’s car, we found out Northwestern field hockey had edged out Maryland 2-1 and was headed back to the NCAA title game for the second straight year. And the three of us just started cheering.

I ran cross country in high school, so naturally I felt like the vast difference in attention our team received from the student body compared to our basketball team was a crime against humanity. So, entering Northwestern last fall, I wouldn’t have thought there would be any community in Evanston that would lose its mind over a field hockey playoff match when there was Big Ten football to be played. Yet, even with another disappointing football season as the focus of that trip to West Lafayette and the fall as a whole, those 10 seconds or so highlighted why this site is so special. Inside NU values and consistently amplifies the accomplishments of athletes who may have felt like me in high school (and admittedly had much better reasons to feel overlooked). I truly learn something new every day from the amazing people I’ve met here, and for that I’m grateful.

John Olsen: Russell Payne

I’m the site’s self-proclaimed soccer guru, so I wanted to use this roundtable as an opportunity to show some love to a man who is on the cusp of revitalizing the men’s soccer team. After National Signing Day last week, Payne’s brought two high-caliber recruiting classes to Evanston and seems to be trending in a tactical direction that I mostly align with. However, the impending success of the program isn’t the only reason I’ve listed him here. I’ve had some highly enjoyable conversations with him regarding tactics, and that’s because he’s open, honest and doesn’t seem inconvenienced by having to answer questions from journalists. So, for who he is and the job he’s doing, I’m thankful for Russell Payne.

Sophia Vlahakis: Inside NU for its pro-women sports culture and giving me a voice

I’m only a freshman who has yet to fully jump into Inside NU and still has a lot to learn. But, the one thing I know for certain is that the excitement I had to join this site in August has only grown into more excitement for the future.

My journey to not just Inside NU but Northwestern begins with Sarah Effress and Sarah Meadow. Both of whom I owe a tremendous thank you for their generosity. All I’ve ever wanted to do is cover sports, and I had no idea what that would look like in college. Their involvement in sports media on campus encouraged me that this would be the place for me, and they both have gone out of their way to help me adjust here. I just hope I can accomplish half as much as they have. At Inside NU, I’ve found nothing but support. From the staff to the rallying around girl sports, I know that this is a site I am lucky to be a part of. Being able to say that as a freshman in her first quarter is gratifying, and I really do mean it. I’m still finding my way, but I’m eager for the future.

I can’t say how thankful I am for the women’s sports culture here. I love how they are embraced here, and it seems to extend from on the field to in the press box. I haven’t seen anything like that before, and I’m not so sure that culture exists at other campuses. I have to give a special shout-out to field hockey too. It was a privilege to get to cover Tracy Fuchs and co. for a few articles, and watching Bente Baekers play is nothing short of magical. So to Inside NU, I’m thankful for the opportunity to be involved in a community I can grow at.

Jason Boué: Northwestern Women’s Soccer and everything surrounding it

It’s no surprise that I’m a big fan of the Northwestern women’s soccer team. It’s basically exclusively what I wrote about this fall, and I couldn’t be more thankful for them. The team was extremely exciting, playing a fast-paced, high-flying brand of soccer and scoring goals like nobody’s business. I looked forward to every single one of their games, eager to see what thrilling thing they would give me to write about. I even had the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles to call rounds two and three of the NCAA Tournament, and I will be forever grateful for that. This team put the soccer world on notice, and I can’t wait to see what they do next year,

Zain Bando: Having another space to do what I love

When I was set on coming to Northwestern for graduate school, I knew I had to keep writing in order to continue building my portfolio in order to help increase my future job prospects post-grad. Inside NU seemed like a good opportunity to immerse myself in the knowledge of collegiate athletics at another institution (I attended NU’s football opponent for undergrad). So far, I have written a Rapid Recap and a few “Where are we Wednesday” pieces. I have also had the opportunity to dip my toes into analyzing how former Wildcat players are performing in the NFL.

As the calendar shifts to 2023 here soon, I hope to cover other sports, including women’s and men’s basketball during the winter season, along with getting to do exclusives with some of NU’s smartest and most talented athletes. With guidance from all of you who have written your thoughts above, I’m excited to see how the site evolves over the next 6-7 months and I look forward to being part of it. That is why I’m thankful for all of you, as many of us with gather with our families for Thanksgiving.

And, as always, “Go ‘Cats!”

Brendan Preisman: The wonderful people working for Inside NU

Coming into Northwestern as a freshman, I was worried I might struggle to find a community, especially in the first quarter. However, the community I’ve found working for this website has exceeded all of my highest expectations. The two editors I’ve had so far, Sarah Effress and Gavin Dorsey, have been incredibly helpful with everything I’ve needed and are some of the writers I admire most. All of the other leaders and upperclassmen in this site have also been fantastic teachers and great role models throughout. To all my fellow freshmen on this journey with me, you all are incredible people and I wouldn’t want to be doing this with anyone else. Working alongside people who live sports and Northwestern athletics as much as I do has been a dream come true, and I am so incredibly thankful for it. This opportunity — and all the people I get to share it with — has been probably the best part of my college experience. So this thanksgiving, that is what I’m grateful for.

David Gold: Northwestern Football and the people here at Inside NU

When I first decided I wanted to transfer, I knew that the one thing missing from my college experience was a school where sports mattered. Did I love BU hockey and wish Northwestern had a hockey team? Absolutely; however, I could not shake the fact that I was at a school that didn’t have football. I have loved the game of football since I was five years old, and after being inside a locker room for over a decade, being away from the game made me miss it even more.

While I had never watched a Northwestern football game before this season, I knew how special this program was and I was instantly drawn to it. While this team has made me want to pull my hair out many times this season, I would rather be covering a bad team than no team at all. I still get giddy each week I pop on the tape and get to break down the ‘Cats quarterback play for our column on Thursday, and I love being able to talk about a football team that represents my school. I love this team now at 1-10 and I’m excited to see them turn it around and get back to the Big Ten West Championship team we have seen in the past decade, and yes, I still have a lot of faith in Pat Fitzgerald. As many people here at Inside NU have heard me say, I don’t think any other coach could do what Fitz has done at Northwestern, and he is the right man for the job.

Outside of sports, the other thing I looked for when I was transferring was a community where I belonged. Scrolling Twitter this summer, I came across this thing called Inside NU and applied not knowing what I was getting into. After writing maybe the worst piece of my life, I got an email saying I was accepted to write for the site and looking back I couldn’t be happier. Not only is everyone who works on this site an incredible writer and storyteller, but are all amazing humans.

Daniel Olinger (yes, I still have access to this page): People who support good and thoughtful sports coverage

This includes a lot of you here who read Inside NU and follow both the account and its writers on Twitter. I know it may not seem like much, but I can attest that after four years at this University and in the journalist ecosystem that every like on a tweet I get, every “Nice piece!” I see in the comments, every bit of engagement that shows you that there truly are sports fans out there who care really does mean the world to us as young writers. Devoting your life and passion to what can feel like a zero-sum game in sports journalism can leave you with a lot of stress and doubt. Every ounce of support you all show for both myself and others who have graced this site alleviates that stress just a little bit. Thank you and keep on posting.