John Elrod, Zoe Kuzbari and Zoë Martin del Campo, Review Sports Editors – The Oberlin Review

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Middle-school fourth-year Zoë Martin del Campo and middle-school third-year John Elrod and Zoe Kuzbari are the magazine’s current sports editors. I sat with them in the journal’s production room (not the locker room) to reflect on their work and time together. As their time as a trio draws to a close, they are grateful for the experiences they have had together in the office and in the Oberlin community.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

When did you start working for the Revue and why?

JE: I started working for the Revue this fall. I had written a few times last year in the spring and applied for the post of editor, but was approached for an opening in the role of sportswriter. I knew I wanted to take it because journalism is something I wanted to do. It really wasn’t a hard decision to make.

ZK: I started working for the Journal at the beginning of my second year. I was just helping out Khalid McCalla, OC ’21, because he needed an interview and I was like, ‘Oh, I can do this, I know the coach. Then we were sent home in March 2020, and I continued to write remotely just because I wasn’t doing much at home. I thought it would be a good way to keep in touch with the community. I was hired full-time as a senior writer that summer, and I’ve been working here ever since.

ZMDC: Actually, I’ve been at Review for a while now and I’ve seen a ton of changes within the sports section since the fall of my sophomore year. The Contributing Sports Editor was a new position for this section when I started, whereas now it’s much more established. I could see the section and the paper change over time, and I also worked with many staff members, including one of my best friends whom I met through the journal, Khalid McCalla .

If you hadn’t worked as a sports editor, in which section of the Journal would you work?

ZK: I think I would like to work for the Arts — I really like what they’ve done with their section. Writers Lily D’Amato and Kathleen Kelleher, especially this semester, have really been able to expand the section and have focused a lot on what they both really want. I would just like to write a fun and cutesy piece, maybe something a little less serious. John does a really good job of making the sports section fun, but I like that the art section has more creative freedom.

JE: Similar to Zoe K, I would definitely do Arts. In fact, I wrote a piece on the arts before I got hired by the magazine. It was a movie review on Nomadland. I would like to do more stuff like that. I think it would also be really cool to get to know the Oberlin art scene because I definitely don’t go to those kinds of events enough.

ZMDC: I think I would probably work for Opinions. I love reading their stories every week and I think it’s fun that you can just post your thoughts.

Other than the exam, what are your extracurricular activities at Oberlin?

JE: I’m involved in club football, which is really fun. That’s honestly a very high level of talent, especially compared to what I’ve heard people talk about in other years. The other thing I do is statistics and other types of communications work for varsity track and field teams. I work closely with Mike Mancini, who is the Director of Sports for Communications & Compliance.

ZK: I’m on the women’s volleyball team and I’ve been captain for the past fall and spring seasons. I work as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator for the North Coast Athletic Conference Student Athlete Advisory Council. I am the co-chair of the Oberlin SAAC, and I will also be working as the sports representative for the Student Senate next year.

ZMDC: I’m on the field hockey team. I am also a research student in the behavioral neuroscience lab of Associate Professor of Neuroscience Tracie Paine. I am a Bonner Scholar and work with America Counts at Oberlin Elementary School as a tutor. I also do some private lessons on the side in maths, science and English.

Do you three hang out together outside of the office?

JE: The main thing is to enter their parties without knowing it. This is how we connect outside of the Review.

ZK: We meet John all the time at parties. John walked into our house once in the fall and had no idea it was our house. We had a party, and I turned to see John standing in the kitchen taking a picture. We were delighted to welcome him into our home. Zoë and I live together, so we spend quite a bit of time together outside of the office.

ZMDC: Zoe and I are also taking a running class together, which has been challenging but also a rewarding experience. Zoe and I also went to high school together, so overall we spend a lot of time together and really saw each other grow as individuals through college.

What’s your favorite piece you’ve written?

JE: My favorite piece I’ve written for the Review is actually something I wrote before I worked as an editor. I wrote this about a year ago, and it was about the name change of the sports teams at Oberlin High School from the Indians to Phoenix in 2007. I was linking it to the name change that the Cleveland Guardians were crossing at the time. I got to talk to one of the main activists who was involved in the name changes in both Oberlin and Cleveland, and it was really cool to hear about it first hand. It was certainly the most significant article I have written.

ZK: I recently wrote about the Beijing Winter Olympics controversy over 15-year-old figure skater Kamila Valieva. I was a competitive figure skater for about 11 years before I started playing volleyball. This sport is really very difficult mentally for young women. So I think being able to write about her and her experience and her lack of support was something that really interested me. I like being able to write more editorial articles. The Olympics must also protect their athletes, and talking about how difficult it is to experience a sport that can be so isolating is so important.

ZMDC: I don’t know if I have a particular favorite piece, but I’ve enjoyed writing pieces that have sparked conversation. In my sophomore year, I wrote an article about the changes in the football team and how some team members felt unsupported. It was truly amazing to have people talk about what I wrote and to see it start conversations about how to better support student-athletes. After an article I wrote about the Inter-Regional Rumble, one of the people I interviewed thanked me and told me that her parents didn’t understand why she decided to go cross-country. country at the college level but understood why after reading my article. I have also written more vulnerable articles such as the impacts body image can have on players and pride. Overall, I’m grateful to everyone I’ve interviewed over the years for trusting me with their stories.

What sport do you like to write about the most?

JE: This is something I didn’t cover much in The Oberlin Review, but growing up I was always a big baseball nerd and read a lot of baseball writing. It’s something that I have the chance to do during the summer for a job. I think the intricacies of the game and all the advanced stats are really cool.

ZK: I really like writing about tennis. I really don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I love watching tennis and my freshman roommate is also on the team. So I spent a lot of time watching their matches. I love being able to write about it and then having to explain the score to people. It’s always fun to see their reaction to the confusion of the score, and then to see their faces when they finally get it.

ZMDC: I’m a bit biased. I love writing about field hockey – my teammates are so amazing and accomplished, and I love to write about them every chance I get. I also enjoyed writing about track and field and cross country. Both teams are incredibly good and they accomplished so much during my time at Oberlin. Being able to cover that, especially individual players, has been such a great experience.

Who is your favorite athlete?

JE: I mean, it’s a common answer, but when I was a kid, I always loved watching LeBron James play. Especially being from Oberlin, I got to see him in person a lot in Cleveland. I used to think about what it must have been like for people to watch Michael Jordan, someone who you could tell in real time was one of the greatest players of all time.

ZK: I should say Mats Zuccarello. He’s an NHL hockey player and he played for the New York Rangers. First of all, I loved her because her last name started with a Z, and I’m Zoe with a Z – when I was little, it was awesome. But he’s really short, super feisty and was known to be one of the most aggressive players in Rangers at the time. Even though he could probably get knocked out if he checked on the wrong person, it was still super inspiring and fun to watch this little guy skate on the ice super fast and be super spirited. I’ve always wanted to embody that kind of spirit.

ZMDC: Serena Williams. I think she’s just had an incredible athletic career, had to endure so much and gave so much to her community, both as an activist and as an athlete. She is definitely an inspirational figure, not just for athletes, but for everyone.

Sportswriters John Elrod (left), Zoe Martin Del Campo (middle) and Zoe Kuzbari (right) sit on a couch in the magazine’s office. (Courtesy of Zoe Kuzbari)
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