COLUMN: Do what you love, even if it doesn't always make sense


Andrew McDonald

When it comes to sleep, I'm not exactly someone who gets a lot of it. But a lot of the time, it's my own fault.

As the hours started to tick toward midnight on March 13, I found myself in my usual situation of trying to catch up on some kind of task. Sometimes it is writing articles and others it's homework,  which seems to be endless.

This time, however, it was different — I was packing for a road trip to Cleveland, Ohio.

It was there I would cover the Mid-American Conference Tournament for Central Michigan Life, the student newspaper that has seen my bylines on the sports desk for the last three years.

College basketball has always been my niche. I've really grown to love it since I began getting into the media business nearly five years ago (yes, the time is going fast and I wish it would slow down). This would be the first time in my life that I  covered a college basketball conference tournament in March, where there was games played everyday for four days.

You could say I was excited, but that's not why I was losing sleep. It was because my internal clock simply wouldn't let that happen.

When the alarm sounded off my iPhone in my bed I would soon miss for the weekend, I didn't want to wake myself up. Sleep sounded better than anything at that moment.

But I knew soon it wouldn't and I told myself the same thing I tell myself everyday when I don't want to deal with the stress of reality: "Wake your ass up because you love what you do, and not many people can say that."

As myself, fellow reporter Austin Chastain and photographer Cody Scanlan made our way to Global Luxury Suites in downtown Cleveland, I began to feel tired. Three hours of sleep and five hours on the road wasn't the recipe for excitement.

However, I was soon reminded why sports can change that feeling unlike any other in this world.

In the closing seconds of what would've been a major upset from No. 9-seeded Eastern Michigan over No. 1 Central Michigan in the women's side of the brackets, Presley Hudson changed it all in a single moment.

Right in front of my courtside media seat, I watched the senior guard fly through the air, toss up a rather ridiculous shot that found the bottom of the net.

I finally experienced why they called it March Madness in person. 

The next day the men's team would be victorious as well. For both teams the press conferences were full of energy and excitement just to survive and advance. It left us with plenty of stories to tell and write.

The first one I did of the tournament caused me to control-alt-delete my entire story I had prepped during the game that will go down as the Presley Hudson buzzer beater. Instead, I had to rewrite a story with a deadline for our paper to come out in Mount Pleasant the next day analyzing her shot.

Most people would hate working under pressure and having to redo their work after composing something already. For me, it's the adrenaline rush I search for.

As I pounded away at my keys with full force to write the story taking readers back through Hudson's miracle, my blood began to boil with a feeling of excitement. I couldn't wait to publish it.

When the story was complete, it ended up being one of my favorites I've wrote since being here. It wasn't my longest or most in-depth, but that's what is beautiful about this job — everyday is different.

Of course, there was free time. Checking out Quicken Loans Arena and the city of Cleveland for the first time were all things I found enjoyable. Doing it with some of my favorite colleagues (yes, even that Evan Petzold who made it down on the last night) made it even more enjoyable.

We found a random bowling alley, multiple different bars including my favorite called the Map Room which was an Irish hole in the wall bar, and the walks past large buildings every morning to Quicken Loans were all things I enjoyed. Add it to the list of things journalists get to do a lot of — traveling with your beat.

Both teams would end up losing on March 15 in the semifinal round of the MAC Tournament, sending us home the day before the title game.

Those press conferences were less entertaining, but writing the stories of the losses which both involved questionable officiating was something I was bringing to the public. I was being a voice for my community and university when they wanted to know why Buffalo wasn't called for a shot clock violation.

To me, that's pretty humbling.

So when someone asks me why I love being a journalist in sports media, it's sometimes hard to explain.

Rushing through cheap or free media food for meals, running on sleep you could count on one hand, dealing with the constant stress of deadlines and schedules that don't run on your time isn't always easy.

But the reward of traveling to the biggest venues in the country, speaking with athletes and coaches for their inner stories and thoughts, and learning the unknown answers to questions everyone has is what I get to get to do everyday.

So when I woke up tired on March 13, I reminded myself of that. Find something you love and chase it, no matter how cliche it sounds, you can conquer your dreams.

Right now, I'm living it and I couldn't be any happier. Do what you love.