This week, I was interviewed for a piece that may run on public radio in the next few months about why I pursued a side hustle on top of my full-time job. For the first time, I think I was able to best clarify exactly why I have, even though the odds are stacked against me.

To me, turning away from a sports writing career – even if it is part-time – is dishonoring every thing that got me to where I am today. Before I wanted to become a sports writer, my career goal was to teach dance at my neighborhood dance studio or be a daycare teacher at the daycare two streets down. Before the age of 11, I never aspired to more than that. I never thought I would get anything more than a high school degree. Despite being a good student and in gifted and talented classrooms, I never thought I could do more than that.

When I discovered that people wrote about sports for a living and got paid for it, I was amazed. I loved to write and I loved sports. There was a job that involved both things?! I was obsessed with finding the details. I soon realized to pursue it, I would have to go to college and I would probably have to move away from home.

Ooof. Not only had no one in my immediate family gone to college (and I only had one cousin out of my 20+ who had at that point in time), no one – and I mean, no one – moved away from Rochester.

Even though those two facts gave me pause, it stuck in my head that it was something I might want to do. Two things happened: I became obsessed with the Sports Illustrated coverage of Super Bowl XXIX (Steve Young’s Super Bowl MVP campaign) and the release of Christine Brennan’s Inside Edge. They happened almost exactly a year apart, but those two items moved sports journalism into a career I might want to pursue, to one I had to pursue. Those two chronicles pushed me over the edge. I was completely envious of all the writers involved, and I needed to find the chance to join them.

So I fought my way to college, took out horrendous loans to do so, and started towards that career – only to allow myself freshman year to be convinced that I didn’t belong in sports journalism. But I was already in college, a place I fought so hard to get to, and I wasn’t going to leave. I got a degree in history, then moved to Boston to earn a graduate degree in education, and then ended up working in one of the largest student life offices in the U.S.

The dream of a sports journalism career got me to places I never, ever thought I would go.

So when the opportunities arise to pursue that dream, I take them. Even if it is just freelance or part-time. Because I love it and because if it hadn’t been for that dream, I wouldn’t be where I am today. 12 year old me was inspired to find more out of her life, and I need to honor that girl’s dream in whatever way I can.