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Childhood dream restored, fulfilled thanks to experiences at Daily Bruin -30-

Gavin Carlson stands for a portrait. (Darlene Sanzon/Assistant Photo editor)

By Gavin Carlson

June 10, 2024 9:26 p.m.

At six years old, I knew I was going to work in the sports media business.

Every day after school, I watched “SportsCenter” on ESPN. During the summer, I’d watch the same 60-minute show on replay for hours.

But, as I grew older and my free time dwindled, so too did that dream for my future. Not because I suddenly disliked sports or the outlets that covered them.

Rather, simply out of doubt.

“It’s not realistic,” I’d tell myself and my friends during middle and high school. “If nothing I learn about in school is related to this career field, how could I possibly justify pursuing it?”

I arrived at that conclusion well before my UCLA journey began.

But then, the Daily Bruin inserted itself into my life.

Like most in the class of 2024, my college career began remotely. After surviving the spring of 2020 without a prom or graduation and a summer of chaos, my reward was a freshman year from my hometown bedroom.

Searching for an outlet, I stumbled upon the Daily Bruin Sports application on its deadline day. In what would foreshadow four years of last-minute article submissions, I submitted my application at the final buzzer.

Despite enjoying every moment of producing mock sports articles for the application, there was still doubt in my mind throughout. I assumed my lack of journalism experience made me unqualified.

But then, I had my first interaction with a member of the Daily Bruin.

The best years of my life would soon follow.

On that Zoom call with multiple editors, I almost instantly hit it off with one of them specifically – Jon Christon.

In what was supposed to be an interview, a majority of the call turned into a casual sports conversation between us. It was similar to the ones I’d had with my friends and family throughout my life as a sports fan.

Weeks later, after being accepted as a fall intern, Jon became my direct editor on the women’s basketball beat.

In the first weeks and months, I berated him with question after question on Slack. From inquiries about grammar to advice on asking interview questions to athletes, Jon had an answer for everything.

But even more notably, when the questions ran out, the conversations didn’t end.

With me in the Bay Area and Jon in Eugene, Oregon, the messages would often turn to sports debates about UCLA or anything else.

From then on out, the Daily Bruin became the primary source of the moments, passions and friends that defined my college life.

My first year at The Bruin was infinitely surpassed by the following three. Interviewing Cori Close on Zoom was cool, but it made my first postgame pressers in the Dick Enberg Press Room that much more magical.

I went from streaming the Pac-12 Network on a laptop to courtside at Pauley Pavilion, covering three Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournaments in Las Vegas and meeting Caitlin Clark at the Elite Eight in Albany, New York.

Covering the rapid growth of women’s basketball over the years was a true honor.

Then I added the football beat in my final two years. As a lifelong UCLA football fan, it took a while for me to fathom that Bruin fans would now look to me for news on the team. But I quickly became more than just “unbiased” – I ironically gained a reputation for being one of the program’s harshest critics on social media.

I also became one of the most active reporters covering the team.

I fell in love with the endless Tweets and the midnight breaking articles. I felt honored to be the last one leaving Pauley Pavilion after a game or working in the press box when they turned out the lights on the historic Rose Bowl field.

I also completely revamped the Daily Bruin Sports podcast.

I joke that I spent twice as much time on the Daily Bruin as on school. Much of it was voluntary.

But could you blame me? Who cares what it meant for my future, I was living my dream right now.

And I was making my closest friends in the process.

After Jon, it was Sam Settleman, the next to go from editor to friend. Then Joseph Crosby somehow filled that role perfectly, our relationship best summed up by him being the friend to laugh at my tweets, but the boss who then told me to delete them.

Lauryn Wang and Grace Whitaker, I’ll never forget laughing hysterically, jumping out of our seats and driving for hours to new cities together. Only Daily Bruin could turn our different personalities into a “Dream Team.” Jack Nelson, thanks for being my podcast partner, football sidekick and a writer I truly admire.

And to anybody else who put up with my famous “Gavin Standard Time” late article submissions, you’re all heroes.

Finally, only now I’ll mention that because of Daily Bruin, my sports media life is still ongoing. I’ve had internships and jobs in the field, and I’m not ruling out a future in the industry I both dreamed of and wrote off in the past.

But ironically, I’m no longer obsessing over what happens next.

Because I took a chance on the Daily Bruin, and because it took a chance on me, I’ve already experienced a lifetime’s worth of fulfilling moments with colleagues who are now lifelong friends.

Anything else that happens from here on out is just overtime, extra innings and bonus content.

Carlson was a Sports staff writer on the football, women’s basketball and men’s basketball beats from 2022-2024 and previously served as a Sports reporter on the women’s basketball and softball beats from 2020-2022.

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Gavin Carlson | Sports staff
Carlson is currently a staff writer on the football, men's basketball and women's basketball beats. He was previously a reporter on the softball and men's golf beats.
Carlson is currently a staff writer on the football, men's basketball and women's basketball beats. He was previously a reporter on the softball and men's golf beats.
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