McDaniel: ‘As cheesy and cliché as it sounds, the Iowa State Daily has truly changed my life’


Assistant Sports Editor Stephen McDaniel is a senior in journalism and mass communication with a minor in English.

Stephen Mcdaniel

Throughout my life, there’s really been two constants: sports and the urge to tell people what they don’t know.

So when I graduated high school, my first instinct was to look into computer science, naturally. It’s safe to say I was never built for that life and came to my senses. Sports journalism was something that always interested me.

I realized this when I read a Des Moines Register piece from Tommy Birch about former Iowa State men’s basketball player Deonte Burton and why he wore pink shoes in honor of his mother. I remember thinking how cool it is to share unique stories such as that one and wanted to take a crack at it.

I joined the Iowa State Daily during my sophomore year, and in a way it felt like a leap of faith to break out of this shell I had formed as an introvert. It was the Daily’s Editorial Adviser Mark “Spoon” Witherspoon who sold me on his Iowa State Daily pitch at the beginning of my journalism classes. Joining the Daily is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

My very first year working with the Daily, I met two of the people that really credit helping me get my first start in my young sports journalism career: former Sports Editor Aaron Marner and my fellow Cyclone Hockey reporter at the time Carlyn Ward.

Marner took me in under his wing when I had almost no clue what I was doing and he was able to stay patient and help guide me in the right direction throughout that first year. I can’t believe the growth I had from the first hockey story I wrote to the last hockey story I wrote and Marner was a large part of this.

I’m also super thankful for having Carlyn with me on hockey. It always felt nice having someone else to go to while trying to figure this sports journalism stuff out. Plus, she was also super helpful while I was also trying to rediscover hockey. So major props to her for dealing with me and tag teaming the hockey beat with me through that first year of uncertainty!

In my second year at the Daily, I got to meet and get to know some more people that honestly helped me become the writer I am today. I’m beyond thankful for former Sports Editor Noah Rohlfing, current Sports Editor Zane Douglas, Assistant Sports Editor Matt Belinson and my partner-in-crime Zach Martin.

These four individuals have helped me and inspired me more than I could ever be able to explain. Noah was the second person to take me in under his wing and essentially fine-tuned my writing into what it is now. Even to this day, I always go back to advice I remember him giving me when I would meet with him every week during the fall of 2019.

The three I’ve gotten to work with the most without question are Zane, Matt and Zach. I’ve never seen three people be so dedicated to what they do and I couldn’t thank them enough for inspiring me every single day and being such a reliable support system as we navigate through one of the craziest time periods in sports.

I’ve said it a thousand times, but I’m so beyond grateful I’ve been able to work with Marner, Carlyn, Zane, Matt and Zach. I can’t imagine where I’d be without their help and support. That’s also not to mention all of the absolutely amazing people that have worked with the sports desk and outside the sports desk! I really wish I could list off everyone from the sports desk and everyone else outside the sports desk that pushes me to be the best I can be, but this column would go on forever.

As for sports journalism, there’s nothing in this world I wanted more than to share some of the unique, untold stories the sports world has to offer, as well as providing loyal fans with content and updates to enhance their sports experience and make them feel like they’re witnessing what’s going on if they’re not at a game. This is something I strived to do from day one and it’s something I strive to do in my future outside of the Daily.

At the end of the day, I have so much respect and admiration for everyone at the Daily, just seeing and knowing how much work gets put in behind the scenes to pump out daily content from all desks.

I’ve learned so much during my time at the Daily and I’ve gotten to experience so many things and meet so many people I might never have if I never joined the Daily. It physically and emotionally pains me to know I’m going to have to say goodbye to all of these wonderful people when I graduate.

So as cheesy and cliché as it sounds, the Iowa State Daily has truly changed my life.