Sports Journalism Blog

There’s a commercial that plays on the big screen inside the Sydney Superdome at the FIBA World Cup. It’s focused on young girls and why they love playing basketball. Some typical responses include, “it’s fun,” or “I like to be competitive and win.” One response in particular stuck out to me when one young girl said she loved playing basketball because of “all the doors it’s opened up for me.”

This posed the question of: What am I doing in Sydney, Australia reporting on the FIBA Women’s World Cup for USA Basketball and how did I get here?

I am a fifth-year student-athlete at IUPUI on the women’s tennis team, meaning I am in my final year of playing tennis at a high level.  I started playing when I was nine years old and the goal always was to play Division I college tennis. I worked really hard, put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into my craft and finally signed my National Letter of Intent my senior year of high school to play Division I tennis at IUPUI. I did it.

Looking back on the last thirteen years, it’s hard to imagine what my life would have looked like if I had never made the decision to pick up a racquet. I know I most likely wouldn’t have gone to school at IUPUI, I would have never decided to pursue an M.A. in Sports Journalism and I would not be sitting behind a basketball post in an arena filled with fans from all over the world writing about the best American women basketball players more than 10,000 miles from home.

Looking around the stadium, I see a bunch of young girls who looked like me—fire in their eyes and their souls set aflame, eager to be just as good as the women playing in that arena. To these young girls, the women playing at the FIBA World Cup are role models and national heroes. They are the best players in their country and certainly some of the best players in the world.

Watching the stadium erupt with cheers when China scores a three-point shot or hearing about fans selling out the jersey of top Australian player, Lauren Jackson, within minutes at the tournament’s official store made me realize something: Girls and women are watching and they are interested.

Tennis has opened up so many doors for me. If you would have told me in May when I began my journey as a graduate student in the Sports Capital Journalism program that I would be spending two and a half weeks in Sydney, Australia reporting on the best American women basketball players, I would’ve thought you were crazy. The number of opportunities that have been presented to me thanks to tennis are infinite.

I know firsthand how sports can change lives. Tennis has certainly changed mine. That’s why the passion and excitement I see in the young girls at the Sydney Superdome makes me excited for the journey they will embark on. It certainly will be an unforgettable one and may even involve getting to hand feed a kangaroo in Australia.

By Sarah Lounsbury | @saraahlounsbury