2022 In Review
2022 went by in the blink of an eye. This year I took on a new responsibility at Sports360AZ as our Recruiting Roundup expert. I’m not going to lie, it was a daunting task – I mean, I was filling the shoes of Jordan Hamm who crushed the beat for several years. I didn’t know what I was getting into but looking back at all the stories and commitments I’ve been able to share has been a blast.
Of course I continued to share my favorite segment of all time – On The Rocks. My pup Mia and I have continued to go on breathtaking adventures across the state and it will never get old. For every adventure or hike I check off of my bucket list there’s always another adventure to add. All that to say, On The Rocks is here to stay.
Bleacher Talk continues to be on of the highlights during the football team. Jordan Spurgeon and I love connecting with players on a more personal (and much goofier) level – we think they love it too. Chris Peterson has been a huge part in taking some episodes of Bleacher Talk to the next level . . . and at times, back a few decades (IYKYK). Bleacher Talk even had the honor of being the space for the National Football Foundation Valley of the Sun Chapter Award Show this year!
Lastly, it’s only been a few weeks since the high school football season came to a close . . . but I can’t stop reminiscing. There’s something so special about grinding for two days straight alongside tons of close friends and teammates and sharing such a special moment with players. I never knew how much I would truly love covering high school sports – there’s nothing better.
This past year I’ve covered some tough stories surrounding mental health, seen some beautiful places and shared some of athlete’s most important moments. I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. Picking five stories was incredibly difficult. There’s probably 25 stories that I’d want to be on this list, but we’ll settle for five. Five stories that I’ve worked on and five stories produced by my fabulous teammates. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Claudia’s Top 5
5. Havoc for a Day
This was just so dang fun. I have never experienced anything like a GCU basketball game. I think I was seeing purple for days after spending time in that arena. Students camp out for days just to be in the student section cheering on their team. From the moment I arrived on campus, I knew I’d be in for a treat. The tailgate outside of the arena was flooded with students wearing purple and white, carnival rides, and the band and cheerleaders were already hyping up the students.
4. The Recruiting Roundup
I had to keep this pretty general because it’s so hard to just pick one story or episode. Having this in fourth place even feels wrong – let’s just say it’s here because it’s my most general category. I adore having the opportunity to share the journey that so many of our state’s athletes go through. Every episode has a different theme, new guests or some breaking news to discuss. The recruiting cycle truly never ends. Even though I was covering early signing day from across the country in Florida – it’s awesome for me to see each athlete’s journey all the way to signing their National Letter of Intent.
3. Perry Pumas Playing With a Purpose
In journalism there’s days that you stumble upon an amazing story. This is one of them. Although it’s a story of loss, it was such an enlightening experience to spend a day with the Perry Pumas and to learn about their purpose for the 2022 season. Jordan Spurgeon and I planned to spend the day with the Pumas for a Bleacher Talk episode but we quickly decided this story deserved to stand alone.
2. Snowflake Lobos Legacy
Did someone say road trip? You know you can count me in! I trekked up to the White Mountains on a Friday to learn all about the Snowflake Lobos Legacy. I was greeted with an incredible amount of kindness and hospitality. There’s something that is just different about small-town football and I hope this story gives you a glimpse of it all!
1. On The Rocks – Waterfalls
Ok. I’m cheating a little because there are two On The Rocks episodes in first place but I really couldn’t choose between them. These waterfall experiences are totally different from one another but they were the highlights of the year for me. Cibecue Falls and Grand Falls are easily the top two waterfalls I’ve visited in State 48. One is more of a hike than the other but the views are dramatically different. This is your sign to start your 2023 adventure bucket list now!
Claudia’s Top 5 Sports360AZ Picks
5. Eliav Gabay – Glass Half Full: JT Mulvihill’s positive impact on and off the field
Eliav is a master of storytelling. If you’re looking for an inspirational story – this is it. I don’t want to give too much away so just take my word and take three minutes and 49 seconds out of your day to give this a watch.
4. Jordan Hamm – Walkin’ On
This year Jordan Hamm went all-in on the college football scene. He dominated the Sun Devil and Wildcat beat, he’s been so immersed in the transfer portal you would think he’s going through it himself and he was breaking news left and right. He picked up the college football beat in the craziest time for the Sun Devils and despite residing in the Valley, he gave the Wildcats his all too. So in general – Walkin’ On is the bomb dot com.
3. Jordan Spurgeon and Brandy Aguilar – AlS to Ashes: The Cory Nochta Story
Jordan Spurgeon worked alongside Brandy Aguilar on this beautiful piece. I know this story impacted both of them on a deep level. ALS to Ashes tells the story of Cory Nochta, his life as an athlete and firefighter and how ALS impacted his life.
2. Sports360AZ – National Football Foundation Valley of the Sun Chapter 2022 Award Show
We’re a team at Sports360AZ and this award show proves just that. Everyone who works with Sports360AZ in some capacity had a hand in the annual NFF award show. It’s an honor for each and every one of us to share these well-deserved awards. Thanks to Brad Cesmat, Chris Peterson, Devon Henry, Eliav Gabay, Zach Alvira, Cody Cameron and Chilly for all joining me and Jordan Spurgeon on the show this year!
1. Eliav Gabay – Adapting Together: The Jundt Family Story
I told y’all Eliav is a genius storyteller. The first time I watched this piece I immediately scrolled to the beginning and watched it again. From a production standpoint – it’s a masterpiece and the story is even better. All it takes is four minutes and 50 seconds of your time . . . but I’d carve out 10 minutes in case you want to watch it a second time . . . like I did.