When I was little, my favorite thing was to listen to my father tell stories.
Every day, on the way to school, my father would invent a story to entertain my brother and me. To this day, he has a way of telling a story with such emotion, you actually believe you’re a part of it.
My love for writing grew out of those story hours in the car. Because of my father, I fell in love with the idea of sharing my lyrics with others. For years, I struggled to figure out what stories I wanted to tell; nothing I wrote felt good or relevant enough.
Growing up, I realized that the stories I wanted to tell were not mine but rather belonged to others. I was curious by nature, and that made her decide: I wanted to become a journalist.
I moved to the United States when I was 18. Before leaving my home country (Venezuela), I had already been accepted to study journalism at the Andres Bello Catholic University. On October 12, 2012, when I boarded the plane that was taking me to the United States, my heart was pounding. For the first time in my life, I was heading into the unknown. As I watched my hometown disappear through the window, I had no idea it would be one of the last times I would see it.
My plan was to take a year off to study English as a Second Language in Charlotte, North Carolina. Politically things had started to unravel in Venezuela, so one day on the phone my parents told me they were moving to Orlando. So I started applying to colleges here.
I was accepted to Rollins College to study English and Literature. During my sophomore year, I transferred to the University of Central Florida. Two years later, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in creative writing.
While studying at the Nicholson School of Communication, I wrote articles for the school newspaper, Nicholson Student Media. There I wrote my first sports stories.
When I think of my life, I think of it as a film strip, and in every frame there is sport.
One of my earliest memories is playing wrestling with my dad. We used to go to a park near our house and throw a baseball every Sunday, while my mother sat in a chair near us. Sometimes she played too, and those were the best days. Every week I looked forward to those Sunday afternoons, playing catch and swinging a bat. I liked it.
The first image on my filmstrip is tennis. I played for almost a decade during my elementary school and most of my college years. At the time, I went to all of my brother’s swim meets. Cheering from the benches was fun, but I yearned so much for the competition that this sport encompassed that I decided to try swimming.
This is where the second film strip of my life began. In my years as a swimmer, I’ve learned what it means to push yourself to the limit, to keep going even if your lungs hurt, because every stroke counts. There was a gap in my competitive sports life between my senior high school years and my freshman year of college, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t continue to play and watch sports.
My last competitive sports film sequence came during my years at Rollins, where I discovered rowing. Coming from Venezuela, I didn’t know that rowing was a sport. I remember getting an email inviting all freshmen to give it a try. It was then that I discovered a sport as beautiful as it is demanding. Rowing was the first sport I got into that required you to train and compete as a team. I loved that you trained every day as one boat, not as separate individuals, and that everyone in the boat supported each other from the first shot to the last.
I am the eldest of five siblings, all athletes in their own sport. My family’s weekends have always revolved around the sports we played. That’s why I’m so humbled and honored to be able to combine my two passions, storytelling and sports, and put them into my role as a sports reporter at your community newspaper.
And so, that’s West Orange. I am thrilled to share your incredible sports stories, celebrate your athletes, and immerse myself in this vibrant sports community. Let’s roll!
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