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Postcard from Tampa: Should’ve. Could’ve. Did it.

I’ve chosen the easy path too many times in my life. I’ve let my anxiety and fear of failure take control of my decision-making process on multiple occasions.  During my women’s Final Four trip, I made a step to reverse that mentality.

First off, I am eternally grateful for the Sports Capital Journalism program at IUPUI.  Without this program I probably would have never gone to a Final Four event in my life, let alone cover one for NCAA.com. I would have never had that chance without this program.

Oftentimes, I think about a quote from the first “Transformers” movie (the good one) in the scene where Bumblebee spins around and his door springs open.  When debating whether to hop in, Shia Lebouf’s character says, “50 years from now, when you’re looking back at your life, don’t you want to be able to say you had the guts to get in the car?”

I got in the car on Sunday night.

The previous day, I’d written a short feature story on Baylor guard, Chloe Jackson.  She’s had quite the collegiate career involving injuries and transfers. The following day, during the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship Game, Jackson had one of the best games of her career.

I had assumed the senior writers at NCAA.com wanted the story.  I wasn’t going to put up a fight. They probably would want a professional writer doing one of the bigger pieces of the tournament anyway.

However, I asked my professor, Pamela Laucella, to suggest that I write the story since I wrote about Jackson the day before.  It never hurts to ask. The worst they can say is no.

Surprisingly, our NCAA contact left the decision up to me.  My heart leapt into my throat. Here I am, covering my first event ever – at any level, and I have a chance to write about the game’s top performer.

Me?! I questioned.  My brain screamed for me to say no, like that Michael Scott scene from “The Office.”  

I’m going to mess this up.  I can’t. I won’t. I’m not ready.  I need more time. I’ll do a smaller story, I thought to myself.

But from somewhere deep down, I thought of all the “could’ve, should’ve would’ve” moments in my life. My mouth spoke the opposite of what I was thinking.

“I’ll do it,” I said.  

Now, I’m panicking. I needed interview questions and quotes.  I needed to be in the press conference and the locker room at the same time.  I needed to create space between four television crews to stretch my scrawny arm in and get clear recordings.  It was time to write.

I did my best to capture the essence of the moment.  I described events in ways I never have. I tried to keep it short – about 750 words or so.  But boy, I wanted to write at least 1000. I waited patiently until the next morning to see it. I wanted my take to be heard. For what it’s worth, my parents said it was the best story I wrote all weekend.

I quickly noticed another “could’ve.”  I could’ve done better. A common error and a repeated phrase weakened the ending. But I don’t mind much. I’ll work on it again. I’ll make it longer. And, I’ll read it 10 more times before posting it again.

Nonetheless, the biggest story I’ve ever written is on a nationally known website. And I owe everything to this opportunity.

I know every day is going to be different, and I’m not going to have that ability to get into that car every time. But, thanks to this moment, I’m going to try harder now. That’s for certain.

By Brendan Rourke | @B_RourkeSports

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