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Bruins in Paris

Learning to embrace leadership roles, find a home within The Bruin -30-

Olivia Simons stands for a portrait. (Darlene Sanzon/Assistant Photo editor)

By Olivia Simons

June 10, 2024 8:58 p.m.

I felt my first dose of imposter syndrome in college writing my application to be a Sports reporter with the Daily Bruin.

I had to call my mom so she could explain the rules of football to me as I wrote a practice article for the application, a surefire sign I was qualified for the position. I felt the same imposter syndrome in my interview, where the two people interviewing me knew significantly more about my favorite baseball team than I did. It didn’t get much easier when it came to writing real articles, as I was never as fast or creative with writing as I wish I had been.

Nonetheless, moments from my first year helped provide me with the confidence to later take on editorship at the paper. I met a scout for the Oakland Athletics who said he read my baseball wraps every weekend to check in on how players on the UCLA team were performing. The UCLA women’s tennis coach spoke to me for a remarkably long time after her team’s elimination from the Pac-12 tournament because she knew and trusted me.

Slowly, I started to feel like I knew what I was doing.

During my year as an assistant Sports editor, I felt like I was playing catch up when it came to knowing how to write about higher-profile sports. I still got one football breaking wrap in, which remains a highlight moment for me.

I had been considering applying for managing editor for a while when hiring season came around that spring. I liked the idea of being able to make structural and cultural changes at the paper and take on more of an administrative role. But being an assistant Sports editor, I felt underqualified, like all eyes were on me to do well and live up to my predecessor.

The months in which I trained to be a managing editor were some of the busiest of my life. My fellow members of upper management and I anguished over hiring the rest of the editors for the paper and stumbled through our first paper-wide project as The Bruin’s new leadership.

Once the summer rolled around, I began to feel more comfortable in the position. I showed up every day and tried my best to be a leader while also listening to the experts in each section. That’s not to say there were never people who were mad at me or that I never made mistakes. It happened often and is truly inevitable in that position.

But being there for people and making consistent efforts to learn and grow earned me trust among the staff that I kept working for every day. It’s what helped me feel qualified to later become the editor for The Quad, a section I had never written for before but had edited stories for countless times. I was confident in my ability to learn, lead and make improvements.

Growing in The Bruin isn’t just about your own journalistic or leadership skills, at least in my experience. The newsroom started to feel more and more like a home to me in my managing editor year. This allowed me experiences like wearing a felt hedgehog mask during a meeting and explaining that I was playing a hedgehog in a skit for my Russian class and reciting some of my lines to my fellow editors.

I thank David Rimer and Victoria Li for that moment. I am grateful to them for matching my energy and enthusiasm that year in silly ways like hedgehog masks but also for encouraging my ideas and leadership on sensitive stories or important meetings. Your friendship and kindness kept me afloat in one of the most challenging years of my life.

I’ve let my guard down even more this year as the self-proclaimed Quad mom. Three years ago, I was nervous to put a Taylor Swift album as my Slack status for some overthought fear of judgment. I’ve now enabled a Slack function that sends a picture of Bibble from Barbie: Fairytopia every time someone sends a message with my name in it, so clearly my fear of Slack perception has dissipated.

I know when I walk into the office I will find people who love and care about me and with whom I can laugh and cry over any situation.

Thank you to Joseph Crosby and Jack Nelson for your trust in me and for helping me feel more confident as an editor while also improving my sports writing. If Taylor Swift ever drops another collaboration with Bon Iver or The National or if anyone from the 2022 UCLA baseball team makes the major leagues, I know I’ll have someone to talk to about it.

To Felicia Keller, mini me, thank you for reminding me of why I am so passionate about this paper.

To Kaiya Pomeroy-Tso, my Daily Bruin mom, and Catherine Hamilton, my Daily Bruin daughter, thank you for truly being like family to me.

To Jon Christon, thank you for being my biggest supporter and for bringing me onto the editorship team in the first place. Your constant encouragement and advice have made me a more kind, compassionate and thoughtful person.

To Lex Wang, Talia Sajor, Dannela Lagrimas, Jeremy Chen, Megan Cai, Bryan Palmero, Ben and Matthew Royer, Christine Kao, Myka Fromm, Mia Tavares, Alexis Jones and everyone else who has made a positive impact on both my Daily Bruin experience and my life, thank you beyond words.

Simons was a Sports contributor and reporter 2020-2021, assistant Sports editor 2021-2022, managing editor 2022-2023, and Quad editor and Sports senior staffer 2023-2024.

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Olivia Simons | Quad editor
Simons was the 2023-2024 Quad editor and a Sports senior staffer on the women's tennis beat. She was previously the 2022-2023 managing editor, an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's tennis, men's tennis, swim and dive and rowing beats and a reporter on the baseball and women's tennis beats.
Simons was the 2023-2024 Quad editor and a Sports senior staffer on the women's tennis beat. She was previously the 2022-2023 managing editor, an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's tennis, men's tennis, swim and dive and rowing beats and a reporter on the baseball and women's tennis beats.
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