Tag Archives: liz carranza

A Slice of Sports with Liz Carranza: I Got Love for Woodson

liz_1Photo by Martin Bustamante

 

By Liz Caranza

As I walked up the ramp, the smell of steak and bacon wrapped hot dogs filled the air as a sea of silver and black cheered “Raiders!” I couldn’t stop smiling because, after a year, I was finally reunited with my Raider Nation family. I was finally home.

I could not wait to get inside the stadium to watch my team play against our AFC West division rival the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, and, most importantly, watch my favorite Oakland Raiders player of all-time dominate the field.

It was a second-and-tenth play and the Chiefs had the ball on the Raiders’ 42-yard line. The game was tied 7-7 with only 1:09 left in the second quarter. The coliseum was packed and the “Raiders!” chant filled the coliseum.

The Chiefs’ quarterback, Alex Smith, threw a quick pass to Travis Kelce. Kelce spun his way through defenders, and, at this point, I clasped my hands together because I knew he had the ability to reach our end zone. Then, Kelce was brought down by Raiders’ safety Nate Allen at the Raiders’ 25-yard line. It is here where everyone in the coliseum went wild.

Running down the sideline with the football is a black jersey with the number 24 in silver and the name WOODSON on the back. Raiders’ safety Charles Woodson made history once again, and I witnessed it.

The 39-year-old veteran, for the first time in his 18-year NFL career, recovered two defensive fumbles in one game. Woodson also appeared in his 250th career regular season game, which is the most of any active defensive player and is tied with former Raiders’ kicker Shane Lechler for the fourth among all active players in the league.

As the game came to an end with us blowing our lead for a 34-20 loss, I sat in my seat and waited for the line to exit the coliseum to shorten. At that moment I recalled a date that is forever stuck in my memory: April 18, 1998. I was 4-years-old. I remember sitting down on the couch with my fingers wrapped around the handles of my pink sippy cup next to my dad and older brother. I was a tad bit confused of why they were cheering so loudly and high fiving each other.

There’s three reasons why I remember this day so clearly. One, my mom took a picture of the three of us sitting on the couch geared up in Raiders’ attire. Two, my mom loves to pull out the picture from the family photo albums to laugh at how I had an “annoyed-with-the-world” facial expression. Three, and the most important reason why, it was the day of the 1998 NFL Draft where Woodson was drafted as the fourth overall pick by the Raiders.

So why is all of this relevant? This is pretty much when I started to follow Woodson’s career.

I’ve seen him improve over the years, and seen him become a leader for our defense. It’s football plays such as Woodson’s two interceptions off Manning in week five of this season where he made NFL history that make me love football and Woodson even more. I witnessed, for the first time in NFL history, a 39-year-old defensive back intercept a 39-year-old quarterback. If you sit down and think about it, it’s pretty insane that it took Woodson 18 years to read Manning’s moves to finally pick him off.

Even though Sunday’s loss left a bitter taste in my mouth because we completely blew any chance we had of making a playoff run, I witnessed Woodson add another accomplishment to his Hall of Fame career.

Woodson has truly committed to one of the Raiders’ slogans, “Commitment to Excellence,” that not many players who have worn the Silver and Black uniform have done. His passion and commitment to the Raiders’ organization is a big reason why I respect and love him so much. Thanks Mr. Charles Woodson for everything you have done for the Raiders’ organization. You will always be a part of the Raider Nation until you decide to leave the game, and you will always remain one of my favorite players of all-time.

A Slice of Sports with Liz Carranza: Women in Sports Journalism

Photo by Martin Bustamante

 

By Liz Carranza

Back in March I visited New York for the Society for Collegiate Journalists Conference, where journalism programs from around the nation gathered for workshops varying in investigative reporting, sports and photography contests. I met students from some of the top universities in the nation, such as the University of Alabama, the University of Florida and the University of Connecticut. While it was an experience I will cherish dearly, I left the conference with disappointment.

It was disappointing to see the lack of diversity within the sports seminars, and the conference as a whole. Sports journalism – and sports in general – is male-dominated. It is rare to see women in these fields receive the adequate recognition and respect. There is a misconception that women in sports journalism have no knowledge about sports and are just a pretty face.

I remember stepping into the first sports seminar on the first day of the conference; I felt the entire room stare me down as I took a seat in the front row. At first, I thought people were staring at me because I was dressed in all black with my gold septum jewelry shining from my nose, but I was wrong. I slowly turned around to a sea of people, and realized I was the only person of color. To top it all off, I was one of three women in the room. I immediately felt uncomfortable.

I shrugged off the uncomfortable stares and continued to stay positive that the next sports seminars would bring more people of color. Again, I was wrong. Every time I stepped into any of the sports seminars, eyes were glued on me.

I’ve had a few individuals tell me that the only reason why I chose to become a sports journalist was so I could interview “attractive men” and be the “pretty face in front of the camera.” I can’t help but laugh at their comments. I chose this career because I love writing about sports. I have a very personal connection to it because of my family. If you read my first column piece, you’ll remember that sports have always been an important part of my life. Family bonding in my childhood revolved around attending sporting events or watching the events from home.

I love finding out new things about athletes that you normally would not discover from them on the field. It’s the little moments in sports that make me love writing about them. It’s when you interview an athlete and they tell you the obstacles they overcame to get to where they are.

Back in early June, thanks to one of my journalism professors, I had the opportunity to attend the Oakland Raiders’ Organized Team Activities. When I saw Raiders’ kicker Sebastian Janikowski standing 10 feet away from me, I just wanted to burst out in excitement. Of course I kept my cool and wrote down notes in my black moleskin notepad. Then I saw one of my favorite Raiders’ player, Charles Woodson, run down the dashes next to me as he started firing up the rookie squad with encouragement. As I prepared to enter the conference room, I felt nervous and my stomach turned into knots. I was in a room filled with sports journalists, and I was the only woman of color. It was at that moment I knew I chose a career I love. It was also at that moment that I realized that I have the power to make a change.

Yes, there’s been positives in the sports world involving female athletes. We saw the U.S. Women’s National Team defeat Japan in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup to become the first national women’s team to win the Cup three times. Yes, we have Serena Williams and Ronda Rousey dominating their sport, but what about women in the sports media? What are they receiving? Nothing really.

Returning from New York and attending the Raiders’ Organized Team Activities really motivated me to continue with sports journalism, especially with the lack of women of color in the field. I want to make an impact in the field and demonstrate that women do know about sports, and that we do have knowledge about stats, sports history and athletes.

Women of color – and really all women – bring something new to sports journalism. In a platform that is dominated by men, I believe women have the ability and knowledge to tell sports stories. We bring different opinions and ideas to the table, just like men in sports media do. I think sports newsrooms need more women, especially more women of color, into their platforms, so the stereotype of “just a pretty face behind the camera” can end.