CANADA – It quite honestly was not supposed to turn into anything significant.
March is probably the busiest month in the U Sports calendar, and March 2020 was no different. With volleyball and hockey championships scheduled to happen in the same week, that meant that 49’s Editor-In-Chief Ben Steiner needed some help getting previews out. That was where I came in. I was only going to write a couple of previews and see what happened. We all know, though, what happened in March 2020, which brought the U SPORTS season and the rest of the world to a halt. For me, that meant more time to write about U SPORTS, to try new things, and the next thing I know, it’s been seventeen months and forty-seven articles at 49 later, and I am writing a second-anniversary piece. Funny how things change.
A year ago today, Ben published an open letter on the first anniversary of 49 Sportnet, so it’s only fitting I take a shot at spinning a thank you after year two. It is not overstating to say that 49 Sports was a pretty bare-bones operation at this time last year. With no U SPORTS to cover and any sign of them at the time being months away, 49 was left to Ben, Luke and myself to figure out how to create content for a league with no real return time.
Nevertheless, we persevered, even when Monday Morning Coffey was at times the only stable piece in the Fall 2020 publishing calendar. Despite the last year’s challenges, I genuinely believe some fantastic work was done at 49. From Ben, breaking the cancellation and the return of U SPORTS in multiple conferences, to Luke Dyment joining the team in November 2020 and giving 49 readers brand new access to the AUS, to Griffin Porter and Jay Smith coming in and taking over the CEBL beat. I am not even mentioning the roster of new writers who are slowly joining the 49 Sportnet team.
I know that personally, in the 17 months that I have been a part of 49 Sports, I am incredibly grateful for the stories I have gotten to write. From writing and reflecting on the controversial hiring of Mike Babcock to the Saskatchewan Huskies to talking to Mackenzie Dunford and their fight for advocacy for LGBTQ+ people in football. That’s not to mention every Monday Morning Coffey along the way in the last year (Those will make a comeback as the U SPORTS seasons kick-off). I am also truly very thankful for the friendship I have gotten to build with Ben over the past year and a half, as we worked together to create content for 49 Sports, often just the two of us.
To you, the reader, on behalf of Ben, myself, and the entire (now gratefully growing) 49 Sports team, we want to thank you sincerely. If it were not for you, the readers, we would not have a reason to do this. To all of you, we can say, though, whether you have stuck with us through the last year without U SPORTS or this is your first time on the site, all we can say is thank you.
We are so excited to have U SPORTS back, and we are so grateful that you are willing to come along on this ride with us.
“The best is yet to come, and won’t that be fine, you think you’ve seen the sun, but you ain’t seen it shine.”Frank Sinatra