Sports Media Trainee Blog – WMCC 2016

© WCF / Céline Stucki

Marilyn Santucci has joined the World Curling Federation (WCF) media team as a trainee journalist at the World Men’s Curling Championship 2016 in Basel, Switzerland.

Marilyn is studying her masters in journalism at the University of Kings College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

She is the latest competition winner of the WCF Sports Media Trainee Programme, which is sponsored by Global Sports Development.

Among her duties this week is to contribute to this event blog, recounting her experiences from her first international curling event.

Day 9: Best ten days of my life!

Today is the final day of competition and I must say, my heart is heavy with sadness. I am trying so hard not to cry on the media bench, but sadly every good thing must come to an end. As incredible as it was to cover such a massive sporting event, I will miss the people I have met and worked with greatly. I don’t know if I can put into words what this experience has done for me, but I will try.

I love being a sports reporter. I really do. As a woman, it hasn’t been easy. I guess you could say I had to fight – and still am – for a place in this industry. I have always been a hard worker and dreamer, so I know deep in my heart that nothing will stop me from making my dreams come true. Must be the athlete in me.

I know that part of my purpose in this lifetime is to report on sports. But I have to tell you, I really do believe that everything single thing in life happens when it’s supposed to happen. I was meant to be in Switzerland reporting on the world championship and most importantly I was meant to meet every single individual I have met in Basel.

Mike, thank you for taking me under your wing and helping me become the reporter I am meant to be. You have touched my life in such a profound way, and I will never forget my time spent with you. I forgive you for thinking my name was Madeline the first two days.

Chris, thank you for listening to me sing and allowing me to dance even though I know deep down you wanted me to stop. I apologise for my mother begging to hear your Scottish accent on Skype – she is a special kind of human. I am so glad you were sitting next to me this entire event. I am going to miss having you around. Best friends forever!

Céline, thank you for being the best wing-woman a girl could ask for. We are kindred spirits. I am so glad that we ended up on this trip together. I love you!

Crew members, thank you for welcoming me into your posy. Every single one of you supported me, took care of me, encouraged me and made my experience here in Switzerland so special. Lobby meet-ups after events will be missed. You have a friend in me, always.

Joanna, thank you for the pep talk and for spending some time encouraging me to continue pursing my dreams once this event is over. Your words will stay with me forever.

And Cameron, thank you for thinking I was worthy of being a trainee for such a massive event. This experience has changed my life and I will be forever grateful to you. You encouraged me, believed in me and challenged me. This programme will continue to change the lives of so many aspiring sports reporters.

You have all changed my life in some way and I hope to see you all again someday soon.

Day 6: That one night in Germany…

The past few days have been pretty spectacular. I feel much more confident than I ever expected to be. It goes to show that by having a respectful and helpful team supporting you, anything is possible.

The round-robin has been a lot busier than I was expecting – collecting quotes, writing session reports and developing features. I have been so tired after my shifts. It’s a good tired though, the kind that when you lay in bed at night you feel content.

On Tuesday, I was exhausted. I worked the night shift on Monday, and the morning shift on Tuesday but had the night off. As I sat on the tram heading towards the hotel, I told myself that tonight I would get to bed early, and take the night to rest.

When I got back to the hotel, some of the crew was relaxing in the hotel lobby. This isn’t unusual. The crew is extremely close, like a family. After work is done, they gather in the lobby and just hang out. I sat down with some of them to chat and they invited me out to dinner. I declined, saying I was exhausted and needed some time to rest. But that all changed when I found of where they were going for dinner. The conversation more or less went like this:

Crew member: “Marilyn, you should come for dinner with us!”

Marilyn: “Thanks for the offer, but I am really tired. I think I will just go back to my room, have a glass of wine and go to sleep.”

C: “That’s too bad. We’re going to Germany!”

M: “Wait, what? Germany? You guys are going for dinner in Germany? But we are in Switzerland…what?”

C: “It’s only a 15-minute cab ride.”

M: “On second thought, I’m coming to Germany for dinner!”

Germany. You heard that right: dinner in GERMANY. How could I pass on such a cool experience like that?

The Germany adventure team consisted of five Canadians and one Scot: Cameron, John [a.k.a Mooky], Kal, Greg, Cameron [yes there are two of them] and I.

The restaurant was trendy, and beautiful. Our waitress, Sahra, greeted us kindly and offered to order our drinks for us so we could have a taste of something local. Throughout the evening we laughed, got to know one another a little better, shared stories and each ate something different and delicious.

It was such a special night. It was such a fun night. I will never forget that one night in Germany. Auf Wiedersehen for now!

Day 4: One tough cookie

As we get further into the competition, I have to say I am feeling much more comfortable in my role as a reporter.

The first day I was a pack of nerves. I wanted to hide behind Mike, who is my mentor here in Basel, Switzerland. I was afraid to ask the wrong questions, and embarrass myself in front of the athletes and the crew. However, on the second day of competition, it was time for me to step outside of my shell, and start interviewing some athletes.

I only realised once I got back to the media booth that the first athlete I interviewed was Niklas Edin (pictured below, photo: WCF / Céline Stucki) of Sweden who won last year’s world championships. I will repeat what I just said: LAST YEAR’S WORLD CHAMPION. Deep down, I know Mike did that on purpose, but I am not complaining. Not one bit.

Once that interview was over, I felt like a million bucks. I felt like a pro. For the first time in my life, I felt comfortable as a journalist. In my mind, it could only get better from here, and it did.

That night I interviewed Norway’s skip Thomas Ulsrud who won the Olympic Silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver winter Olympics. The best part of that interview? I made him laugh! So not only did I interview the former world champion, I also interviewed an Olympian. I still can’t believe it.

That night, I went back to my hotel room feeling absolutely incredible. I realised the kind of strong woman I was, and how far I have come in my life. Hard work and determination really do pay off. I really am one tough cookie.

It’s interesting, because a few days before flying out to Switzerland, I was catching up with an old friend and we spent a portion of the evening reading our favorite quotes to one another. You see I love reading and finding new quotes. Reading other peoples expressions and thoughts inspires me. I remember sitting on the couch that night with my friend, feeling calm and inspired.

After that crazy second day of reporting, I wanted to feel that way again. I went back to the hotel, sat on my bed and began reading quotes. Here are a few of my favourites:

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” – James Dean

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” – Norman Vincent Peale

“Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.” – C.S Lewis

“Every man is a creature of the age in which he lives and few are able to raise themselves above the ideas of the time.” – Voltaire

I went to bed with a smile on my face, looking forward to the next day. It really does keep getting better and better. I think everything happens for a reason, and I am exactly where I am supposed at this moment in my life: in Switzerland.

Day 2: Bucket list dreams come true

Ever since I was a little girl, one of my dreams was to visit Switzerland. A few years ago, I made a bucket list with a number of different places I wanted to visit, and things I wanted to experience.

Marilyn’s Bucket List:

• Visit Switzerland
• Get my master’s degree
• Fall in love, and have children
• Meditate in an ashram in India
• Start a foundation for children with special needs
• Travel across Canada in an RV
• Write a book
• Learn a new language
• See Coldplay live at the O2 arena
• Send my parents on a vacation of a lifetime
• Cover a major sports event

Of course, Switzerland made the list.

I was an athlete for 13 years, and always knew that one day I would be a sports journalist. At the age of 26, I have almost completed my master’s degree, and am one step closer to realising many more of dreams.

So, when I received the e-mail from the World Curling Federation, inviting me to take part in the World Men’s Curling Championships, my heart stopped.

What you don’t know is that my journey to Switzerland and the event wasn’t initially supposed to happen. I had applied for the Sports Media Trainee journalism position in the fall of 2015, upon hearing about the opportunity from my professors at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. I waited for an answer, and received the worst news: I didn’t get in. Although I did shed a few tears, I was still thrilled that I was willing to challenge myself and gave it a shot anyway. I thought to myself, “it’s okay, you were brave enough to apply anyway!”

Months went on, and out of the blue, I woke up one morning with a missed call from the United Kingdom, and e-mail from the WCF. I remember just laying in bed wondering if I was ready to face what that e-mail had to say.

After calming myself down, I finally opened the e-mail and it more or less said that a spot had opened up to attend the World Men’s Curling Championships in Basel, Switzerland and the spot was mine if I wanted it. My response? YES!

I never jumped out of bed that quickly, or yelled that loud in my entire life. Two things on my bucket list would be crossed off. How lucky was I?

Fast-forward two months, and I am sitting on my Air Canada flight that is taking me from my hometown of Montreal, Canada, to Frankfurt, Germany, and eventually Basel, Switzerland, where I would be serving as the Sports Media Trainee reporter alongside experienced and respected journalist Mike Haggerty. Mike has made me feel at ease, even during times when I doubt myself. He is the perfect mentor to work with.

So far, the experience has been absolutely incredible, minus the jetlag of course. Switzerland is everything I expected it to be, and more. I feel like I am living in a fairytale. Celine, WCF’s former 2014 photographer trainee has welcomed me into her country with grace and compassion. I am so happy I get to experience the next week or so with her by my side.

Everyone has been so wonderful to me. From Celine, Cameron and Mike, to Chris and Al, they have all welcomed me to the team with open arms.

Here’s hoping that the next few days, are as incredible as the first. I still feel like I am living in a dream.