When I attended my first weekly meeting for the Good Five Cent Cigar back in September, I only knew one thing for sure: expect the unexpected.

At this point, it had been nearly six months since the COVID-19 pandemic took its hold on the world. As an 18-year-old student trying to adapt to college life, having to do so in the pandemic made the process even more unpredictable.

But I knew the best way forward was to get involved. And what better way to get my foot in the door than being a part of the student newspaper?

Although I got involved right away, it was a slow start at first. As a sports writer, there was not much to do with the entirety of the fall season getting postponed to the spring. On top of that, in-person interviews had become impractical which presented even more challenges.

Despite these changes, Cigar Sports pushed forward. Conducting interviews either virtually or over the phone, we put together nearly 60 stories by December of my first semester. 

Out of those stories, I contributed eight of them, including overviews of intramural sports, campus recreation activities and previews and profiles for both club and Division I teams. While there wasn’t much to do beyond the confines of my dorm room, having the opportunity to connect with the campus community and gain experience as a reporter made it all the more worthwhile. 

The spring semester finally gave me a glimpse of what it is like to cover games. While interviews remained virtual, sports were now in full force. Our focus primarily shifted to game recaps, in addition to a few more previews and profiles here and there. 

It became even more challenging to find stability when it came to covering games, however. With a total of eight team-pauses and numerous other schedule changes this year primarily as a result of the virus, it became hard to keep up. Having to make last-second changes to a story that was otherwise ready for print became somewhat expected.

Although plans were constantly shifting, I was still able to write 10 stories this spring, including seven game recaps. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a few women’s basketball games at the Ryan Center, which was a really memorable experience for me even without fans present. I also had opportunities to cover women’s soccer, baseball, and tennis this semester, albeit remotely.

A personal highlight of mine was covering the Ram’s matchup against Virginia Commonwealth remotely during the Atlantic 10 Women’s Basketball Tournament. Knowing that I wouldn’t have been chosen to cover the game had we been able to attend in-person, I jumped at the opportunity to recap an important matchup in what was one of the best seasons the program has ever had. Even with a tight deadline, I was really proud of what I put together that day, and I think it is some of my best work.

Interestingly enough, I believe that the lack of experience covering sports under “normal” circumstances ultimately ended up as a benefit. While it might take time to adjust post-pandemic, having been forced to constantly adapt will make it easier to do so in the future than it would have otherwise. In fact, I’ve never really known any other way.

As vaccinations continue to roll out, I am hopeful to have even more opportunities to attend games and cover sports here at URI. I’ve enjoyed every second as a part of the Cigar Sports crew, and I look forward to being a part of it again next year.