Leanna Churchill: Looking Back at The Lamp


Leanna Churchill covers IHSA state basketball tournament at the State Farm Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Leanna Churchill, Former Lamp writer

I wanted to make memories while being up close to some of the biggest moments in sports. I didn’t know headlines would be an essential part in making that happen.

I started writing for The Lamp as a part of my beginning newswriting class in the fall of 2015. I wanted to get into something that involved media and sports. I wasn’t sure what that was, but journalism seemed like a great first step.

From learning how to write in journalist form (so much better than traditional composition papers) to copyediting, layout and headlines, I learned so much while working with The Lamp as I finished my associates.

Even when my classes that were directly related to journalism and The Lamp were over, I spent much of my down time on campus in The Lamp office and always ended up helping with something.

Those times in the office laughing and talking with everyone are some of my favorite memories of my time at LLCC. If someone asked me to write a headline of my time at LLCC it would probably be “The Lamp: The First Step in My Media Journey.”

Since leaving The Lamp and LLCC I finished a bachelor’s in communication at the University of Illinois Springfield. Most of my time at UIS was less focused on written media and more on multimedia and media relations.

Throughout my time at UIS I interned with Channel1450.com, a local media company focused on covering high school sports around the area in an online format. The thing that makes 1450 unique is that it is a website, but we distribute our content through social media. For every highlight you find on our site it has a corresponding Facebook post and multiple Tweets, all those posts containing a link to a highlight.

That internship led me to a job with Channel1450 following my graduation at UIS in early 2020. Two years later I can say so many things I learned at LLCC I still use today.

Copyediting has become essential in double checking my own writeups on the website and especially important in all social media posts. I am also responsible for copyediting weekly articles written by former SJR sportswriters Dave Kane and Jim Ruppert (talk about pressure, they are legends in covering Central Illinois sports). Layout has been helpful a lot in the last year as we have made changes to the website. While headline writing happens every time a new highlight goes up.

Although I work largely in video production now, the journalism skills I have continue to make my job a lot easier. Yes, after a long night it is easy to phone it in on certain aspects, like a headline, but when it comes to the big games and the pressure is on, that is why you do the job and you have to get it right.

I’ve watched from the sidelines, camera in hand, as my alma mater won their first high school state championship in football. I covered my brother’s senior season of baseball. I’ve been on the sidelines of four Leonard Bowls, a game between two of the top local football teams, one coach by Ken Leonard while the other is coached by his son, Derek Leonard. One of those Leonard Bowls was a semifinal game with a trip to the state championship on the line. I have covered four City tournaments, a Springfield, Illinois high school basketball staple, as well as many other big games and events.

Those big moments give you butterflies and gets the adrenaline pumping. It happens because you care, and you realize this is one of those “moments” you dream of covering, regardless of outcome memories will be made.

Seven years ago, I was excited to see where a job in sports media could take me and to make memories. Physically it hasn’t taken me far from home but about a month ago I stood on the sidelines of a basketball court in the middle of a packed State Farm Center at the University of Illinois. As the clock ticked down in the biggest basketball game of the year I watched as a kid threw up a shot everyone dreams of making.

The headlines that night will be remembered for a lifetime just like all the memories made.

The headline?

“Singleton for Three! Sacred Heart Griffin Wins 3A State Title in Double OT.”

Leanna Churchill and Paige Kirbach sit at the News Channel 20 desk during a class visit while students at Lincoln Land.