Sports reporter, copy editor feels the fear, finds family

Blanche Schaefer

I used to allow fear to control me. I imagined myself growing into a dogged reporter, but in reality, I was terrified.

In August 2013, I sheepishly went to a Daily Texan info session with all intents and purposes to try out for sports staff. The more I imagined myself covering University of Texas athletics, the more terrified I became. So I tried out to be a copy editor instead. I love grammar. I wouldn’t have to interview anyone. No one would see my byline.

That’s exactly how my first semester at the Texan went. I made one friend, and I didn’t return the next semester. But I missed the Texan basement. I was still too afraid to pursue my dream of becoming a sports reporter, so I re-joined the copy desk.

I met some interesting characters my first night back. They were obsessed with Paula Deen and had the strangest inside jokes. But they brought me into their weird little circle, and, for the first time, I felt truly at home in the Texan basement. We bonded over the shrieks of Paula Deen parody videos — she became central to office culture. We lived on late-night coffee as we hunted down facts, cranked out headlines and replaced hyphens with em dashes. I wouldn’t have met my best friends at the copy desk if I had tried out for sports my first year.

I took the dive two years later and joined sports as a senior reporter. I enjoyed hearing the athletes’ and coaches’ stories so much that I forgot why I was afraid. I couldn’t believe the opportunities in front of me — my favorite was an interview with Edith Royal for her 90th birthday. Everyone in the Texan sports department was so patient and helpful, and I never once felt like “the new kid.” I soaked up everything I could from the other senior reporters and editors. They answered my silly questions and welcomed me into their Texan family. I grew immensely as a reporter and writer thanks to their help, and I gained several best friends during my semester in sports.

I used to regret waiting so long to join sports staff. I thought I’d doomed my chances of a career as a sports writer. I hated that I let my fear of risks take over. But looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing — my time at the Texan was divided perfectly. I picked every grape off the vine. I leave The Daily Texan as a skilled copy editor and a less-fearful sports reporter. I leave with a group of lifelong friends and memories from the basement. And I learned that if you’re scared, you should probably go for it.