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A perfect storm: Uncovering my calling as I journeyed through sports journalism -30-

Lauryn Wang stands for a portrait wearing a graduation sash and media passes. (Courtesy of Lauryn Wang)

By Lauryn Olina Wang

June 10, 2024 9:17 p.m.

“Tyus! Tyus!” my dad called out. He waved down someone donning a UCLA tracksuit a few feet ahead.

It was 2012, I was 10 years old and hobbling along on crutches from, fittingly, a basketball injury. The next thing I knew, we were posing next to this mystery man. It’s a funny thing witnessing your dad fangirl for a moment.

Unbeknownst to me, it was Tyus Edney: Someone whose clutch play is cemented in the minds of all who watched UCLA’s 1995 March Madness run.

Down 74-73, 4.8 seconds was all it took.

Edney’s behind-the-back crossover just past half-court en route to a contested pull-up bucket is a crystal clear recollection to alumni like my mom and dad. Without that coast-to-coast buzzer beater, it wouldn’t have been UCLA cutting nets after the title game.

Senior staff writer Lauryn Wang and her dad and sister take a picture with former UCLA men’s basketball player Tyus Edney. (Courtesy of Lauryn Wang)

This is the lore that colored my childhood, the legacies that littered the imaginations of me and my two sisters. Before the “Wizards of Waverly Place” was the Wizards of Westwood. Reading John Wooden’s “Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success” and studying his “Pyramid of Success” are core memories preceding other formative moments of my upbringing.

Every morning, my family also had the Los Angeles Times, the Ventura County Star and the Thousand Oaks Acorn on hand at our kitchen table. And my mom sang the praises of the Daily Bruin long before I stepped foot on campus as a student.

It was only natural I had my sights set on covering the UCLA men’s basketball team as a Daily Bruin reporter.

What I couldn’t have predicted was the way the women’s basketball beat would alter the course of my college career and beyond. I’d attended UCLA women’s basketball games sparingly for kid’s days and other promotions, sometimes with my basketball teammates or with my sisters’ clubs. But when March rolled around, we’d follow the men’s bracket.

However, my newfound role as a women’s basketball reporter – with an attuned pulse to the ways players, coaches, trainers, reporters and spectators alike sought to widen the world of women’s basketball – galvanized me. While the men’s team courted countless media outlets each year, the women’s program endured waning interest when it wasn’t in the win column enough.

Highlighting issues of resource parity and gender equity in women’s basketball, often as one of three reporters in the home press room, rooted in me a responsibility to develop comprehensive coverage of women in sport.

Pursuing assignments on the team’s inspiring Black Lives Matter education and advocacy initiatives instilled a further purpose of empowerment for my newfound platform. I was energized and deeply invested, and my work meant more than an accumulation of bylines.

When an editor briefly mentioned that I wouldn’t be guaranteed a return to the beat unless I applied to become an assistant Sports editor, I considered editorship myself. Without women’s basketball assignments, I’d be untethered.

I soon submitted my application for assistant Sports editor and embarked on a formative journey that would inspire my future aspirations while providing me with the opportunity to be a part of a pivotal moment in women’s sports.

One of the transformative shifts in the women’s basketball landscape has been name, image and likeness. When UCLA women’s basketball guard Charisma Osborne announced her return for a fifth year, analysts suspected that a late-hour NIL deal was the deciding factor.

I set out to understand how the debut of new NIL legislation and the ability of student-athletes to profit from it broadened horizons for female athletes, conferring pressure on the WNBA to expand professional opportunities.

As I explored NIL’s implications for competitive equity and fair compensation, my reporting developed new dimensions.

I began to learn how college athletes can be organized on issues of labor justice, a mobilization that in turn expands the scope of opportunity in women’s sports – drawing athletics closer to competitive equity.

The convergence of these experiences helped me discover an exciting intersection of my interests, something that encouraged me to strive beyond sharing the stories of others in my reporting – and actively shape them in my advocacy.

Working at a nonprofit, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, helped me engage that actionable desire and introduced me to coalition-building and organizing in the labor space. I began to understand the broader context of labor issues surrounding NIL and college athletics.

When I pursue my juris doctorate degree at Harvard Law School in the Fall, I endeavor to become an advocate for labor justice in college athletics at an intersection of sports and labor law. My Daily Bruin tenure both ignited this spark in me and equipped me with the skills to succeed. A heaping thank you to my editors for instilling belief in me and shaping the writer I am today.

Ultimately, beyond my writing career, the Daily Bruin laid the foundation for my future aspirations and provided countless once-in-a-lifetime memories that I’ll cherish forever.

It also kindled relationships that I’ll hold close for years to come.

To Lawrence Ma and Romben Aquino, thank you for being amazing mentors, investing in me and my future and providing an unparalleled source of support these past few years.

To Sam Settleman, you’re a wonderful leader and friend. You’re also the best columnist ever.

To Joseph Crosby and Jack Nelson, I can’t wait for our reunions at Dan O’Trivia. One day we’ll beat the music round.

To Grace Whitaker and Gavin Carlson, I can’t imagine being on the beat without you two. From Los Angeles to Las Vegas to New York: I just wanna rock.

A perfect storm has come to characterize the current world of women’s basketball, and I would venture to use the same words to describe my time at the Daily Bruin. Back and forth between the Kerckhoff office plants and the Pauley Pavilion press tables, I found my calling.

For the rest of my life, both UCLA women’s basketball and UCLA men’s basketball games will have a home on my TV each season.

Lauryn Wang was a Sports senior staff writer 2023-2024 on the women’s basketball, men’s basketball, NIL and football beats. She was previously an assistant Sports editor 2022-2023 on the women’s basketball, men’s soccer, men’s golf and track and field beats, reporter on the women’s basketball beat and contributor on the women’s and men’s golf beats.

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Lauryn Olina Wang | Sports senior staff
Wang is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the women’s basketball, men’s basketball, NIL and football beats. She was previously an assistant Sports editor on the women’s basketball, men’s soccer, men’s golf and track and field beats, reporter on the women’s basketball beat and contributor on the men’s and women’s golf beats. Wang is also a fourth-year history major and community engagement and social change minor.
Wang is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the women’s basketball, men’s basketball, NIL and football beats. She was previously an assistant Sports editor on the women’s basketball, men’s soccer, men’s golf and track and field beats, reporter on the women’s basketball beat and contributor on the men’s and women’s golf beats. Wang is also a fourth-year history major and community engagement and social change minor.
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