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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

Leading on and off the field, former executive sports editors share their Tufts journeys

Ananda Kao and Keila McCabe on being a varsity athlete and executive sports editor.

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Ananda Kao, left, and Keila McCabe, right, are pictured.

Editor’s note: The Daily’s editorial department acknowledges that this article is premised on a conflict of interest. This article is a special feature for Daily Week that does not represent the Daily’s standard journalistic practices.

Whether it’s on the field or in the newsroom, the Daily has been gifted with its share of writers who exhibit leadership qualities on multiple fronts. As sports journalists and varsity athletes, these writers are outstanding examples of passion-driven individuals dedicated to delivering quality work and lifting others around them. Ananda Kao (LA’22) and Keila McCabe, who served as executive sports editors in fall 2021 and 2022, respectively, shared their experiences with the Daily.

Having captained her high school lacrosse team, Ananda Kao was always eager to transfer her skills to the collegiate level. At Tufts, Kao was a key member of the 2022 NESCAC Championship-winning side that finished the season with an incredible 19–4 record. One of those defeats came to a 22–1 Middlebury side in the National Championship final. Beyond her athletic focus, Kao found community through journalism.

“I joined the Daily at the beginning of my sophomore year at Tufts. I always had an interest in journalism – I was involved in my high school newspaper and knew it was something I wanted to continue to pursue in some capacity at Tufts. I don’t think I had too many expectations when first joining, but I liked the community of people it provided me with,” Kao wrote in an email to the Daily. “Additionally, the flexibility with scheduling week to week was important for me as a student-athlete. I met so many people throughout my time at the Daily that I wouldn’t have met otherwise during college, and it proved to be a very important support system for me at times.”

Beyond her stellar statistics and accolades, Kao is proud of the team she shared her college days with and is grateful for the bond formed over her college career. In terms of balancing her responsibilities as the executive sports editor, Kao reiterated the importance of teamwork and time management. Some of Kao’s other commitments included being a tutor and coach for Harlem Lacrosse and a member of Tufts Financial Group. Even with all these commitments, she excelled at making an impact across communities she cared about.

“Time management was one of the biggest skills I learned and utilized during my time as a student-athlete at Tufts, while being involved in other commitments like the Daily,” Kao wrote. “At first, this balance was something that worried me and was one of the reasons I allowed myself freshman year to get acclimated to classes, lacrosse, and college in general before joining the Daily. I found that communication, planning ahead, and not being afraid to ask for help allowed me to find the best possible balance between my responsibilities for the Daily and my team.”

Kao further emphasized how her team shaped her college experience and the relationships she continues to foster post-graduation.

“The women that came through our program are, to this day, some of the strongest, kindest, most inspiring people I know and I’m extremely grateful to have been a part of a community like ours. From freshman year to when I graduated, I grew as an athlete, teammate, leader, and person and got the privilege to learn every day from my coaches and teammates – some of my best role models to this day,” Kao wrote. “Now almost two years out of college, these bonds are still some of my strongest – I live with one of my former teammates, work with another, and see more of them on a weekly and monthly basis.”

One of Kao’s favorite memories at the Daily was the creation of the social media account @roll.bos that provided postgame video interviews and reactions at the heart of Tufts sports. The page was an exciting addition to the sports section that increased interactions and brought students closer to athletes.

Like Kao, Keila McCabe is another student-athlete who served as the executive sports editor. McCabe has been a core member of Tufts’ softball program and is one of the leaders as a senior this season. Having joined the Daily during COVID-19, McCabe hoped to continue her passion for journalism she had discovered in high school and was able to strike a balance with her athletic commitments.

“Balancing the Daily and my sport is similar to balancing any time commitments with athletics. At first, it was challenging, but once I figured out a good schedule the routine was very manageable,” McCabe wrote. “My role was certainly harder as the Executive Editor of the Sports section in the fall of my junior year, but I think that time commitment would be similarly difficult for any full-time Tufts student.”

Beyond her innate love for sports and independent journalism, McCabe’s decision to become the executive editor stemmed from a desire to impact the culture of sports writing and strive for more equal and diverse representation of athletes.

“I really loved the autonomy each writer is given in the sports section. I think that facet might be scary initially, but once I felt comfortable, being able to cover anything and everything ended up being my favorite part of the sports section,” McCabe wrote. “I wanted to be an [executive editor] to get more involved in the Daily and also challenge myself with more responsibility. I also saw an opportunity to represent the section as a female athlete with hopes of diversifying coverage and leveling existing gender biases when it comes to sports writing.”

As athletes, both Kao and McCabe talked about the inside advantage they held when it came to covering college sports.

“I felt that I was able to ask in depth, thoughtful questions and find common ground with many of the people I interviewed, which helped me shape interesting stories and find unique angles,” Kao wrote.

McCabe echoed similar sentiments by explaining the convenience of sourcing and the inside perspective she brought to her writing.

“Having shared athletic experiences allowed me to ask better questions and pick more significant details to cover in games,” McCabe wrote. “It also just helped to get in contact with athletes for interviews. Since the athletic community at Tufts is very close, I was always one text away from getting interviews with an athlete.”

The sports section continues to evolve at the Daily but has been shaped by passionate student-athlete leadership in recent years. Both Kao and McCabe have laid an incredible foundation for writers and future editors to follow and are excited to track the section’s growth in the future.