By Abby Hope

As my internship with Its Sports Magazine comes to a close, it is with sincerity that I extend a Thank You to my loyal readers. I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to cover what I think is, the best city on the map.

Champa Bay has been a blast to call home for the past 2 years and writing about our dominance in sports has been an even greater privilege. With my time here, I refined my writing skills and began to find a voice in writing that makes the transition from assignment-based writing to writing to engage an audience. From writing about the day in the life of a student-athlete since COVID, to recapping the NCAA DII Men’s & Women’s Selection shows in a unique COVID season, to following the Tampa Men’s Lacrosse team to a devastating quarterfinal loss, I found a passion for writing about the growth of lacrosse. As you may recall, Boston Women’s Lacrosse became the NCAA DI Champions for the first time in history and Charlotte North shocked the world with her gameplay and leadership that earned her a Tewaaraton among many other accolades.

Following the Tampa Bay Lightning in their playoff run to back-to-back Stanley Cups has been indescribable. Watching Bolts games at Sparkman Wharf surrounded by a community of people who share a love for the same team was a time where I was reminded about why I love sports. For the simple reason that they bring people together. There is nothing quite as electric as the feeling of watching the Bolts from Amalie Arena! As a student-athlete on a team with the shared common goal of ending the season with two championships, it is inspiring and exciting to watch our city dominate in sports. From the lens that I have as an active NCAA athlete, I can say that it has been fun rooting for the home teams and I will be the first to say that I have jumped on the Bolts, Bucs, and Rays bandwagon, (although is it really a bandwagon if its your home team?)

Not only did my love for Tampa Bay sports grow tremendously with my time at ISM but my love for growth and participation in all sports. College athletes are living through a historic time now as the lifting of the NIL restrictions opens up endless doors. I wrote about how I think the NCAA made the right decision in opening up the NIL profit gates, how Title IX should be revisited, and the addition of two new sports at Clemson University.

It seems as though the time can’t be any better to be an athlete, what with the Tokyo Olympics this summer too!?

Simone Biles decision to withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympics All-Around Final was one that the media covered deeply, as she is the goat, and all eyes were on her. It was an honor to shed my 2 cents in on her decision, why, by the way, I think it was selfless and team-oriented, and doesn’t change her GOAT status.

I must also extend a humble Thank You to our Chief Editor, Leo Haggerty, and our Publisher, Jeffrey Neil Fox for their knowledge and mentorship, and for helping me find the path to what’s next. A new learning opportunity awaits, as does senior year,  a final lacrosse season, and of course, a lot of cheering for the home teams.

Now let’s go back-to-back, Bucs.

This is a Hope Highlights bidding farewell, but look for me in the poll question!