The first time I met Lauren, a sociable and lively 9th grader, was for a teacher-assigned partner interview for our Journalism class. The interview was held over Zoom, where what we could see on our screens were only each other’s grainy pixelated faces and the slow, lagging movements of our bodies. But despite these limitations, however, our conversation was anything but slow. In fact, the closest comparison I could make of our conversation was to having a first ride with a new, engine pumped car. Conversation was fast, and conversation was loud.
In the beginning, all I could think about was staying on track for our interviews and getting this awkward assignment over with, but from the moment Lauren Chancy opened her mouth to speak, I felt my muscles loosen from tension, and our interview — or what should have been an “interview”— quickly spiraled into a comfortable conversation about anything and everything as our inhibitions were soon left forgotten.
To be honest, I was surprised to meet a person in Journalism with a character like Lauren’s. I remembered when I was reading “The School Story” by Andrew Clements, a story about a girl writing and publishing a book under a penname, the author had made clear distinctions between who “writers” and “talkers” were. The main protagonist, who was quiet and shy —someone like me — was the “writer” type and the protagonist’s friend, who was the complete opposite and hated writing with a passion, was the “talker” type. There was no mixing in between. In reality, apparently there were people, like Lauren, who were very much both a writer and a talker.
“The reason why I took Journalism is because I want to become a sports correspondent for football,” Lauren said. Football is Lauren’s life, love, and joy. Ever since she had started paying it extra attention when she was 12 years old, Lauren’s love for football solidified itself when she bore witness to her most favorite game of all time, the 2018 Rose Bowl, with her favorite team, the Georgia Bulldogs, playing against the Oklahoma Sooners.
That game night, Lauren and her family had eaten a whole Southern dinner from smoked ham to collard greens and cornbread. All that was left was a bowl of black eyed peas. The peas were very important, Lauren mentioned, because they were lucky.
“That game was a nail-biter! You see,” Lauren explained to me the game system of football, “Some Rose Bowls are semi-finals to the Championships, and that Rose Bowl had been a semi-final so if Georgia won that Rose Bowl, they would go to the National Championships. Lemme tell you, I had never been more stressed in my life, and so every time there was a break in the game, my family and I would go into the kitchen and eat some of the black-eyed peas for luck, because wheww — did we need it. And it worked!”
And it worked. The Georgia Bulldogs won 54 to 48, and had gone to the College Football Playoffs National Championships to play against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Had the black eyed peas’ luck worked again?
“No,” She laughed, “The black eyed peas didn’t work.”
However, though football may have been Lauren’s catalyst for her desire to become a sports correspondent, it’s more than football that cements Lauren’s resolve to become one.
Lauren stated, “There are so few females in football. Not the actual sport but in the journalism part of it. They’re always asking the men for their opinions. The men are the ones who get to share their predictions about who’s gonna win the next game on tv. They get to do the play by plays of the game. Did you know that there has only been one female in history who has gotten to do a football play by play?”
And Lauren wants to be the second female to do it. She wants to participate in conversations about football on TV. She wants to be asked her predictions about the next game’s winners. She is an aspiring star, someone who wants to be a Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood figure for girls, powerful women who’ve conquered the world in their respective industries. Lauren wants to be that in the football world with her sports correspondence.
“I want to be someone a person can point to and say, ‘I want to be like her.’”
As I looked at Lauren’s smiling face, though it seemed like the odds may have been against her, all I could see was a determined female, ready to sweep the world under her feet.