Dread it. Run from it. Destiny arrives all the same.
I don’t like emotions, anybody who knows me knows that. That’s the beauty of words; I can express myself without showing emotion.
As a young freshman public relations major, I remember being confused by this crazy experience I had just embarked on called college.
During my first semester at SRU, I did what any other freshman would do. I joined a club, ate too much food at Boozel and went to the block party squad deep. It was magical.
The Spring semester of my freshman year saw me make some major decisions that would impact my life forever. On Feb. 17, 2016, I made the greatest decision of my life. I had just received a mass email from the communication department sent by The Rocket’s incumbent sports editor, Ryan Barlow. He was looking for contributors to cover some of The Rock’s Spring sports. I remember sending Ryan the email saying I was interested in contributing to The Rocket. He told me to meet him in The Rocket office the next day for an “informational” meeting on contributing to the section. The next morning, I remember so distinctly walking up to the second floor of Eisenberg, each step so vivid in my memory. I kept thinking that there was going to be this group of people waiting to talk and meet with Ryan. Was this going to be worth it? Was I even going to get a chance? I walked into office and saw two guys (I knew one had to be Ryan; the other I learned to be the future legend Cody Nespor) sitting in the middle section on the left side of the room. There was nobody else around them. Destiny had arrived.
My first assignment was simple: “Cover the tennis team for the semester.” It sounded easy enough. I knew nothing about tennis (I still don’t) but was still eager to get my start. Within the next couple of days, I scheduled a time to meet with the team’s head coach, Matt Meredith, to talk about the recent match that was played at St. Bonaventure’s.
“So The Rocket is giving us the freshman this semester,” said Meredith, with a big smile on his face.
I nervously acknowledged what he had said as I sat myself down in one of the chairs in his office. I kept thinking to myself, “What the hell am I doing?! I don’t know what I am doing!”
Being new to this whole journalism thing, I had no idea what to even ask a tennis coach during an interview for a story. I think my first and only question to him had something to do with what his thoughts on the match were.
As the semester kept on moving, I soon familiarized myself with sports reporting. I remember reading almost everything that Ryan had previously wrote that was published online and in print. He was my Mufasa.
I prided myself in going to each of the tennis team’s home matches. I even attempted taking photos on occasion. I wasn’t good and following my first semester contributing with The Rocket, I stuck to writing. My freshman year was coming to a close and although I didn’t have to switch my major to journalism to continue contributing for The Rocket, I wanted to. My adviser, the legendary Dr. Zeltner, was all for it. I soon became one of The few. The proud. The state school journalism student.
Sophomore year came around and I became a regular contributor to The Rocket. I covered women’s soccer in the fall, women’s basketball in the winter and softball in the Spring. I even started writing features, which became one of my favorite kind of stories to report on, because it was a change from the game story structure.
That Spring, I applied to get on the editorial staff for the paper. I was confident in myself… maybe too confident. I was at the Pirate game when I got the email saying I didn’t get picked for staff, so I bought a hot dog, a large order of french fries and a large coke rather than confront my emotions.
Junior year rolled around and I covered women’s soccer again and became the go-to guy when it came to anything going on with the team (I love you Athletic Communication, but you don’t count). Before The Rocket, I did not know anything about soccer. I didn’t care to. Writing for the student newspaper got me obsessed with everything to do with Division II soccer. There is something magical about it.
Basketball season arrived and, once more I covered the women’s team, while writing features here and there for the men’s team.
Alas! The Spring sports’ season came around and I finally got my chance to cover the greatest sport to ever exist — baseball. The first story I wrote for the baseball team dealt with Alex Pantuso (a beast now pitching in the Oakland Athletics farm system) breaking the all-time strikeout record at the university (I think I fell in love with baseball even more when I walked up to the team’s clubhouse to do said interview and the door handle was a baseball bat).
Junior year was coming to a close and I finally got my chance to be on The Rocket’s editorial staff. I was hired as the assistant sports editor for the Fall 2018 semester and then took over as sports editor once the legendary Steve Cukovich graduated in December.
This entire year has been the most fun I have ever had. I truly met some of the greatest people during my time with The Rocket.
I want to start off by praising The Rocket’s source of “income”, Lauren and Nicole.
Lauren you are truly one of the nicest people I have ever met. Your and Eric’s bickering will never get old. Thank you for helping the sports section out with your amazing design skills since mine reach that of making small baseballs.
Nicole, I am scared of you but I am proud call you a dear friend of mine. I see our friendship similar to that of Dwight and Pam.
Next up is Copy/Web, the section that makes my writing look better than what it is.
Sarah, I am proud to call you a “bar” buddy, as I can always expect a tap on the shoulder and a friendly “What’s up,” followed by a smile at 11:30 on a Thursday night at Ginger Hill. I am glad to have met you this year as our collegiate careers come to a close.
Heather, I am proud to call you my first friend at The Rocket. Let it be known that the only reason Heather passed our math class junior year was because of me. I know you will do great things because, like Nicole, you scare me. I hope to see you around Bellevue.
Mr. Multimedia himself, Tom Fabian, thank you for being one of my favorite people to have ever existed. I can always expect a good time when you are around. You are extremely talented and I hope you will hire me when you get your production company up and running. Let’s get a slushy soon.
To my dear Jack. Thank you for becoming one of my best friends at The Rocket. You are hilarious and, like Lauren, you helped the sports section immensely this year with your fantastic design skills. Thank you for lending me your spare tie prior to our senior presentations because mine ripped. May Lord Thanos protect you.
Paris, I love you. From standing on the sidelines at the football games with you and Steve all season long to partaking in the Triple Atomic Challenge with you guys later on in the semester, I am glad I was given the chance to become friends with you. I am also glad I was able to teach you some things about baseball since we all know it’s your favorite sport. Your photos are going to make it big someday.
I think my desk neighbors over in Campus Life, Megan and Hope, are next.
Hope, thank you for being the kindest person I have ever known. With you at the helm, I know the section is in good hands upon Megan’s departure. I can always expect a laugh out of you when I make a joke, even when everybody else is wrong in saying that it wasn’t funny. And always remember, the horses are in the back.
Megan, thank you for calling me out on all my “off the wall” stuff I say. It was a beautiful ray of sunshine being able to work with you everyday over the summer in the PR office. Tbt to when I was one of your campus life contributors. I wrote some pretty lit stuff for you. I will always remember our long talks in the office about the MCU. My my! At Waterloo Napoleon did surrender…
To the future CNN reporter, Hannah. You are amazing. I am so glad to have had the chance to call you a Rocket colleague. Just by you continuing to be you, I know The Rocket’s future is bright. I know that one day I will be sitting on my couch eating an app platter from sheetz while watching you moderate a presidential debate on television.
To my Editor-in-Chief, Eric. Your rants, emphasis on page design, borderline hatred of capitalism and constant “firings” of me, are just a few reasons why I am glad to have known you. Thank you, dear friend, and I hope to see you on jeopardy in the future.
Zooooooooooooooooook. The only regret that I have with us becoming friends is that it didn’t happen sooner. One academic year with you is not enough. I love you, my Chungus. You better always carry a reverse card on you from now on. Whenever I watch The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, I will think of you.
Karl, like with Zooooooooooooooooook, it’s a shame that we only became friends this year. The kooky stuff you and I come up with and talk about is insane. I love you man. You are a fantastic writer and a great friend. This sports section is going to flourish next year under your leadership. Just remember, You did this.
To the greatest sports editor of them all, Steve. Steve, our friendship blossomed over the Summer when we attended the sports media conference in North Carolina. It was truly an honor being able to work with you. Attending the football games with you on Saturday afternoons this past Fall gave me some of the greatest memories during my time in college. You are a great writer and I am so fortunate to have been able to have been your assistant. Every morning I would look forward to walking into The Rocket office and hearing you say, “What’s good, man?” Giddy up.
To the best contributors a guy could ask for: Zack, Brendan and Aaron, I am so happy that each of you proved yourselves over the course of this year that you all were able to make it on staff in some fashion. Zack, your multimedia and design skills are going to help make this sports section even greater than it already is. I am looking forward to the awesome content that you guys will be producing next year. Brendan, you are one of the most dedicated and hardworking writer I have ever met. Your versatility will make you a great asset to the campus life section while you also help continue to make the sports section amazing. Aaron, I am sitting next to you in Maltby right now as I am writing this. I am so happy that you were able to make it on staff this year. You are my go-to guy for all things track. You were very dependable this year and it was amazing seeing you grow as a writer over the course of the year.
To all the sports editors before me, Ryan, Cody, Jordyn, Justin and Steve: Thank you for your tutelage. I wouldn’t be here without the opportunities you gave me.
I would like to give a special shoutout to all the coaches that had to deal with me over the course of my Rocket career, with a special thank you going out to Coach Lutz, Coach Messer, Coach McGraw and Coach Griggs.
Thank you to all the communication professors that I had the opportunity to meet over these past four years, with special praise going out to Dr. Zeltner, Dr. Peiritsch, Dr. Flynn (sorry I wore a Yankees hat in research methods), Dr. Pu and Dr. Harry, for always somewhat kind of believing in me.
And finally, thank you to Dr. Fleming. You are the world’s greatest adviser. The passion you have for student media surpasses my passion for crocs. It has been a privilege being able to learn from you. Yay for convergence!
It’s been a wild ride and I genuinely don’t know how to end this so I am going to end with a quote from Mother Theresa: “Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”