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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: an open letter regarding our upcoming 2023 Football Preview Edition

Sports Editor: Shelby Swanson
Daily Tar Heel Sports Editor Shelby Swanson poses for a portrait on Saturday, August 19, 2023.

Almost as soon as I had stepped foot within the lift, the elevator operator's query, delivered with a keen edge, cut through the air.

"Where's your press pass?"

In the intimate confines of that cramped elevator, an ironclad camaraderie of seasoned, older male peers enveloped me. I stood in stark contrast — the only woman in the elevator that carried us all up to the Kenan Stadium press box. 

I looked down at the lanyard suspended around my neck, the laminated credential it held swaying gently. Words were superfluous. I looked back at the employee and pointed at my press pass in a simple, silent gesture.

There was a swift, "Oh, I'm sorry,” followed by the dinging of the elevator. 

I’d finally arrived.

This marked my inauguration into the realm of UNC football coverage last year. It was the first home event I’d ever covered at Kenan Stadium, and I already felt like an outsider. Yet, I wasted no time immersing myself in the task at hand — delivering the best possible football coverage to our readers. 

My time reporting on college football has been less a fairy tale and more an ongoing test of resilience. My questions, though fueled by curiosity (and also knowledge), frequently elicit condescending smirks from colleagues. During games, well-intentioned souls lean in to offer unsolicited explanations of game intricacies — "That was a wheel route. Do you see how it takes advantage of the slow defender and..."

Yeah, I get it.

Amidst these daily irritations, I've clung to my determination, consistently pushing against the boundaries of my comfort zone, bound by an unwavering commitment to provide day-in, day-out Tar Heel football coverage.

As I’ve given more and more to the game, the game has given back. 

Over the course of the past month, our sports desk has invested countless hours in faithfully attending near-daily football press conferences. Within open practice sessions, the minutiae of drills, strategies and potential lineups have been analyzed and dissected — a symphony of elements meticulously orchestrated for the forthcoming weeks. This intensive effort will culminate in The Daily Tar Heel's highly anticipated 2023 Football Preview, set to hit stands on Aug. 30.

Within the folds of these pages, untold stories about star quarterback Drake Maye, analysis of diverse position groups and updates on realignment talks and player eligibility will be sure to provide enough ammo to make any reader feel like an expert. In just a week, you'll be able to pick up a gorgeous copy filled to the brim with seven distinct position previews, five elaborate player profiles and a dazzling A1 graphic package. I’m talking a pin-to-your-wall, stick-to-your-fridge, pretty-ass paper.

This wouldn’t be possible without the help of my Assistant Sports Editors Gwen Peace and Daniel Wei; our Sports Managing Editor Lucas Thomae; our Assistant Sports Photo Editor Lara Crochik; our four senior writers Brendan Lunga, Caroline Wills, Matthew Maynard and Noah Monroe; all our staff writers; all of DTH management; and the rest of the newsroom.

As Aug. 30 draws nearer, I invite you to prepare for an immersive plunge into an unparalleled football odyssey — an experience that transcends the mere physical dimensions of the field, an intricate tapestry of eloquent words and evocative images that crystallize the very essence of the Tar Heel football spirit…

Nah, I’m just playing. It’s going to be a paper — a damn good one, though. Be sure to check it out.

With excitement and anticipation,

Shelby Swanson, your DTH sports editor


@dthsports |

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Shelby Swanson

Shelby Swanson is the 2023-24 sports editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as an assistant sports editor and senior writer. Shelby is a junior pursuing a double major in media and journalism and Hispanic literatures and cultures.