Katie Maher says goodbye to The Left Bench

It’s hard to believe that I’m sitting down writing this right now with just over a week until graduation. They really aren’t lying when they say college flies by faster than you think. 

TLB has truly been one of the biggest parts of my life for the last four years. I joined my very first week of freshman year, with the immediate hope that one day I would fill the shoes of the Executive Producer. 

Fast forward to halfway through my junior year, after 2+ years of lugging camera equipment all over campus, many games covered, many stories told, and a lot of hard work and dedication, that hope became a reality. Given the global pandemic, my time as EP wasn’t exactly how I had always pictured it, but it was nothing short of unforgettable. 

I’m fortunate to be able to say I’ve covered NCAA and Big Ten Tournament games, top ranked teams, sat down with athletes and coaches who have incredible stories to tell, produced amazing studio shows, and been able to help other reporters in my time with TLB. 

Most of all, I’m fortunate to have been given a platform to grow as a sports reporter and anchor, a job title I can’t believe I’m able to say I now hold.

People who know me well know my path to sports journalism was unconventional. I was a dancer for 14 years, and after getting knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, I decided that wasn’t my path after high school. 

Being stuck on the couch in recovery for the summer of 2016 suddenly gave me plenty of time to think of new career ambitions, and I found myself watching a plethora of preseason NFL content with my dad. The more women I saw in this field, the more I said “Her job. That’s what I want to do.”  

From that summer on, I took in every ounce of sports media I could in order to learn everything I could about the world of sports. What I love about journalism is that you learn something new every day, and that rings true for sports. That’s the wonderful thing about the environment I’ve been given at The Left Bench. 

It’s an organization full of people who want to help new reporters grow. And for that, I want to thank Danielle Stein, Rachel Hirscheimer, Noah Gross, Zach Solon, Annabelle Janssens, Morgan Weaver, and every other Merrill College student who helped me in any way in my first few years as a reporter. 

My time as EP would not have been so successful if it weren’t for the producers I had beside me. To one of the hardest workers I know, Steven Mehling, I am so glad to call you one of my best friends, and I’m so excited to see all you do as a reporter in Evansville. Keara Bruno, you’re so much further along than I ever was as a sophomore, and seeing you grow as an anchor and reporter has made me so proud. I can only imagine how good you’re going to be. Hanny Wolkoff, your tenacity and dedication is going to help you take the sports production world by storm, and I can’t wait to see all you accomplish, Ms. Director. 

To the newest class of producers, Ricky Podgorski, Elana Mutnick, Nathan Schwartz, Alex Gary and Jonas Evans, you guys exceeded every expectation we had for this freshmen class. TLB is going to be in great hands when you take over. 

To the rest of our reporters and crew members, thank you for being a part of TLB in my time as EP. I hope I taught you something, or had even the slightest bit of impact on your journalism journey. 

My biggest thank you could go to no one other than my co-executive producer, Kevin McNulty. From taking over TLB as 13 sports came back at once in spring 2021 (when we had no idea what we were doing), to road tripping across the country, to many late nights in the news bubble editing shows, and to anchoring my final show, it’s been a wild ride. But I’m so thankful to have had you by my side for it all. I think we’ve more than succeeded in getting TLB back up and better than ever. 

We’ve set a new standard for game coverage, revolutionized our shows, and pushed for storytelling. And the best part is, you’ve still got a whole year to take what we’ve done and do even more. You’re going to thrive in this role, and TLB is so lucky to keep you around. I can’t wait to see all of your content next year, and I’ll be cheering you on from 1,000 miles away. 

That reminds me, I’m moving! Just a week after graduation, I’ll be packing up my life and heading to Topeka, Kansas. I’ve accepted a full-time Weekend Sports Anchor and Reporter position with WIBW, and I can’t wait to get started covering all things Jayhawks, Kansas State, Kansas City, and more in the local community. 

After four years of hard work, getting to type that out feels like a dream come true, and I truly would not have gotten here if it weren’t for my time with The Left Bench. This is such a special organization full of hard workers who dedicate so much time to bringing you unique video coverage you don’t get anywhere else in College Park. 

I’ve made some of my favorite memories, met some of my favorite people, and provided some great coverage in my time here. Getting to lead this organization has meant so much to me, and has truly been the biggest honor of my college career. 

So, after four years and 60+ games later, I’ll be signing off one last time. 

For The Left Bench TV, I’m Katie Maher. Thanks for tuning in.

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