Story and photos by Aaron Weintraub
Kylee O’Connor’s planner appears to defy logic. In the beginning, she tried to color-code all of her responsibilities, but she didn’t have the time to keep up with that.
Right now O’Connor has 14 hours of class a week. When she’s not doing schoolwork, she’s covering sports for the Daily Emerald or KWVA’s Quack Smack. And when she’s not doing that, she is a sports anchor for Duck TV. She has a lot other things to do too, but you get the idea. She’s busy.
Fortunately, the pace and nonstop challenge of O’Connor’s life suits her well.
In high school, every year she threw herself a “Survivor”-themed party that lasted all day, from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. She came up with around 20 challenges, teamed up her friends and watched them compete against each other for food.
She essentially set up her own sports league and created an entire media team to back it. “We would have video cameras following my friends around the entire time,” she said. “There would be interviews where people just talked smack after losing.”
Like a Duck to water
Along with reporting on the game for the sports segment on DuckTv, Kylee does post-game analysis on Quacksmack for KWVA
After taping, Kylee goes over her report to make sure she got everything.
Given behavior like this, it’s not surprising that O’Connor went on to study sports reporting in college.
It all started with Kylee’s own need for competition. She played varsity soccer for four years in high school, ran varsity cross-country and track for three years, and was a swimmer and basketball player to boot.
“My senior year, I realized I wanted to study journalism,” she said. “But for me, sports definitely came first, and I knew that if I wasn’t able to do sports anymore because of an injury, I would still want to be involved in them in some way.”
For O’Connor, the UO and the SOJC were both natural fits. “I came to campus a lot just growing up with my friends in high school, so it’s comfortable and familiar,” she said.
She’s used the college football team she grew up watching to ready herself for a career in media. It’s helped her practice essential reporting skills, such as sideline coverage, and helped refine her post-game analysis.
“I have to be unbiased whenever I’m covering the Ducks,” she said. “I’m always rooting for them I guess, but when I cover a football game now, I can’t show that. I just have to wait and hope for the best game possible, no matter who wins.”
According to O’Connor, the most important skill she has sharpened in the SOJC is time management. She used to be dual-enrolled at both Lane Community College and UO while taking care of her pre-requisites, and the commute between the two campuses added an extra level of complexity to her already frantic schedule.
“I remember my freshman year, because I wanted to take J-100 and J-101, I would have to leave [soccer practice at LCC] early two days a week and get there late two days a week,” she said. “Now that I’m not dual enrolled, it’s definitely nice to just be able to stay on campus and not have to go back and forth so often.”
Finding the sweet spot
In the past year, O’Connor has started working as a sports writer for the Daily Emerald, as an anchor on DuckTV and as a contributor for KWVA.
One of her greatest goals is finding a way to combine her interest in sports with her journalistic work. And she has figured out over time how to bridge the gap between these two worlds.
O’Connor said they don’t seem so distant from one another now. “I think having good experience in print journalism early on can supplement later work in broadcast journalism,” she explained. “Now I’m scattered — I don’t really know whether I want to go into broadcast or print, but I do think that they complement each other. I was never really big into writing, but I really dove into it last year. I took Lori Shontz’s Track Journalism class. We would go out and cover each [club] meet, which was weird for me because sometimes I would be racing in it too.”
O’Connor has plans to write and broadcast outside Eugene after she graduates, though she wants to stay on the West Coast. If she had to select a dream job, it would be covering the San Francisco 49ers or the Pac-12 — in football, a phenomenon not likely to be dramatically changed by the next social media trend.
One challenge O’Connor has had to grapple with is finding the sweet spot where she can manage her responsibilities while using her competitive nature to her advantage. But she feels that broadcasting with KWVA, producing for Duck TV and writing for the Emerald have given her a trifecta of media skills that make her a good candidate for her rapidly approaching job search.
“I think they all interconnect really well,” she said. “To put on a good onscreen production, you need to have good writing to go into it. And KWVA works well with Duck TV because I get to practice speaking fluidly. At the same time, all of them involve Oregon sports, which is what lets me do all of them.”
Wherever she ends up, O’Connor knows that she’s found her true calling, where her natural competitive spirit will serve her well.
Aaron Weintraub is a senior in the SOJC studying journalism and Arabic, which he hopes to use as a foreign correspondent in the Middle East. This is his first year working as a digital media intern for the SOJC’s Communications Office. In the past, he studied Arabic and Islamic studies in Keble College at Oxford University and at the Qasid Institute in Amman, Jordan, where he worked as an independent feature writer during the summer of 2016. He has also served as a writer and photographer for the UO’s environmental publication, Envision Magazine. You can find Weintraub’s collection of photography, much of which he took while traveling, at aaronweintraubphotos.wordpress.com. When he’s not writing or shooting photos, he enjoys climbing, biking and other activities that occasionally injure him.