Pursuing new experiences led me to cover historic sporting events for The Bruin -30-
Francis Moon stands for a portrait. (Joseph Jimenez/Photo editor)
By Francis Moon
June 11, 2023 9:52 p.m.
There’s one response I receive more than others when I tell people about my biggest commitment on campus.
“That’s really cool,” they say. Though after a brief pause it is often followed up with, “Why?”
It may sound brusque, but it’s a fair question that I’ve admittedly asked myself.
In January 2020, as a freshman from the other side of the country simply trying to find my place, I decided to take a chance on applying to Daily Bruin Sports after coming across a social media ad. I generally enjoyed writing, and athletic prestige was personally one of my favorite parts about being a student at UCLA, so why not?
Now, I can confidently say it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
At the time, however, I had no real experience in journalism and entered UCLA as a pre-med student. I had no idea how much I wanted to commit to the organization or whether I’d be successful, since I had always thought of myself as more reserved and less creative. I remember walking into the Daily Bruin office for my interview feeling completely out of place, unaware of the hours and hours I would spend there.
Even as I became more involved, from time to time I questioned if it was worth it. Although it was never a question of enjoyment, I wondered if I would have been better off committing my time elsewhere when I often found myself setting aside classes and other commitments as an editor for the Daily Bruin.
But I soon realized how easy it is to get caught up in the competitive nature of college, with both internal and external pressure leading to feelings of imposter syndrome. If my time with the Daily Bruin has taught me anything, it is the significance of trying new experiences and doing things that make you happy, because that moment could be gone before you know it.
Though I still don’t see myself in journalism, I’ve realized that question of “Why?” is moot when the organization has given me memories and lessons I’ll hold onto forever, as well as people that helped shape my time at UCLA.
Thank you to Jared Tay for making my experience as an intern exciting and guiding me through my first stories on the women’s tennis beat, including my first breaking story. Immediately, I fell in love with what I was most nervous about – interviewing athletes and coaches – and it was a fun challenge to try and translate the action into words. But it only lasted a few weeks until the world came crashing down, and at the moment I didn’t know if the Daily Bruin would end up being anything more than a cool opportunity I tried for a few weeks.
I was placed on the women’s basketball beat the following school year, which made my decision easier considering I’ve always been a big fan of the sport. I give much credit to Jon Christon for my growth as a journalist over the year, even though we didn’t meet in person until a year later. Sitting in an empty Pauley Pavilion to cover games was what I looked forward to every week during Zoom University.
It is hard to believe I almost didn’t apply to be an assistant editor at the end of the year, as it was easily my most valuable experience with the paper. Special thanks to Jon, Sam Settleman, Bryan Palmero and Olivia Simons for making it enjoyable and easier, and for helping me improve my editing and leadership skills while sharing a common passion for sports and writing. The late nights, long meetings and hours spent on stories were all worth it when I think about the memories we made and the work we put out.
Managing coverage for a few beats, including women’s basketball, while also writing for the football and men’s basketball beats the past two years has allowed me to become more confident in my once-reserved voice, all while doing things I thought I could have only dreamed about.
Writing my first men’s basketball wrap was one of the most surreal experiences of my life, as I was lucky enough to sit courtside for the Bruins’ Sweet 16 matchup at Wells Fargo Center in 2022. While we won’t talk about what happened on the court that day, seeing my name right alongside outlets like CBS Sports and The New York Times and conversing with established journalists about their time as college journalists made me realize how lucky I was to be there.
Earlier this year, I also got the chance to cover UCLA men’s basketball’s win over Kentucky in Madison Square Garden, just a few days after covering its road win over Maryland, and drove to Sacramento for the first two rounds of the team’s 2023 March Madness run. Being in the Rose Bowl press box never got old, either, and nothing has topped the environment from UCLA football’s win over LSU in 2021 – though its win over Utah this year came pretty close.
Even aside from the games I got the privilege to cover, I will never forget being courtside watching St. Peter’s historic win over Purdue in the 2022 Sweet 16 thanks to the Daily Bruin. Somehow, that was topped the following year when I witnessed part of another historic Cinderella run, this time by my hometown team from Princeton.
Since becoming a UCLA student, I’ve changed my major four times and my career path twice.
I used to think of my indecisiveness as a fault, but have instead learned that my willingness to try different experiences and engage in my diverse interests is a gift that has shaped me into the person I am today.
To current and future Bruins, it’s okay to be unsure – to feel like you don’t belong. But nothing good comes without taking risks, and you never know what friends and memories you’ll make along the way.
So remember to take a second to appreciate things around you and ask yourself, “Why not?”
Moon was a Sports contributor 2020-2021, an assistant Sports editor 2021-2022 and Sports senior staff 2022-2023.