Letter from the sports editor

Summer Merkle | Cartoonist

By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

When I first began writing for The Baylor Lariat, I knew nothing about any sport that wasn’t baseball. I definitely didn’t know anything about basketball. In fact, I hated the sound of sneakers squeaking on hardwood. But things change when you learn to understand something that previously made no sense to you.

My first week on the job, I got thrown into the fire, sent to cover the Bears’ basketball team as they hosted Texas Tech, who was ranked No. 8 at the time. There’s something about sitting courtside — the action is right in front of you, and you can’t escape the excitement.

The Bears upset Tech 73-62 thanks to a strong defensive showing, a taste of amazing things to come. But the thing that I remember most about that game wasn’t Makai Mason and Jared Butler’s hot three-point shooting or the 10 free throws that sealed the win for the Bears. No, it was Scott Drew’s press conference.

One of my favorite things about this job is getting to talk to the coaches and players about all the little details that go on behind the scenes. For a girl who knew nothing about basketball, listening to Coach Drew talk was like getting a masterclass in the sport. I was soon looking forward to covering basketball games almost as much as baseball (almost).

Covering Baylor basketball has been one of the greatest experiences of my college career. It’s pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me grow as a journalist and as a person.

Every major moment for the Bears in the past two seasons, I’ve had a front seat to it all. From a 23-game winning streak, to five weeks at No. 1, to College game day — I’ve had a front seat to the culmination of the greatest rebuild in college basketball history.

But more than that, I’ve gotten to witness Mason’s passion, King McClure’s ultimate swag, Mark Vital’s selfless hustle, Butler’s growth, Freddie Gillespie’s heart, Devonte Bandoo’s clutch effort, Davion Mitchell’s athleticism, MaCio Teague’s confidence, Matthew Mayer’s humor and so much more from so many players who went out and left everything on the court each and every game.

It was disappointing not getting to cover a Baylor run in the NCAA tournament in 2020, despite everything they went through. It was just as deflating not getting to go to Indianapolis and be there to witness the national championship firsthand. But nevertheless, I’m so grateful I got to cover this team while I was here and I’ve had so much fun telling the stories of this program. Everything came full circle when I got to cover the Senior Day game against Texas Tech, the Bears fresh off their first Big 12 title.

So, I want to give a huge thank you to the university for giving me the opportunity to be a student journalist, thank you to David Kaye and the communications staff for all their help, and thank you to Coach Drew, his coaching staff and the players for making me like basketball.

Here’s to many more years of sneakers squeaking on the hardwood.