Farewell column: Into the Wild Green Yonder

I guess I have to start from the top. When I came to Cal, I came as a spring admit, and not as one of the ones who does the Fall Program for Freshmen. I started, as relatively few people do, in January. I thought my status as a spring admit wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but that nagging feeling that I would only get three and a half years on campus, never four, guided my entire college experience.

I threw away my first semester, essentially. I didn’t join any clubs or do anything interesting other than attend lectures and kill time with people on my floor. That’s my fault, although I feel like the deck was stacked against me a little bit here. It’s tough to get involved when most recruiting happens in the fall, and I let myself slip through the cracks.

My sophomore year was when I started rushing into things. I was trying to make up for lost time, so I got a job, joined a club, snagged a leadership position and eventually rushed right into the most defining aspect of my Cal career when I was hired at The Daily Californian.

You have to understand that when I came on campus, I had no desire to be a journalist. It just wasn’t on my radar — not even a little bit. The events that led to me joining the paper are actually quite absurd. The details are too lengthy to list out here, but I happened to open the paper one day to a bogus column written by a certain Michael Rosen that made me so upset that I drafted a lengthy letter to the editor in frustration. That letter led to an impromptu discussion with a couple of editors on Sproul Plaza. And that discussion led to the suggestion, “Hey, we’re recruiting right now — you should apply.”

And even though I had no interest in journalism, even though I had never thought about being a writer or editor before, I had that little voice in my head that said, “You only have three and a half years here, and you’re behind already.” That voice rushed me into one of the best decisions of my life: joining the Daily Cal.

After reading the column that shall not be named, I had the confidence to think that I could do this job better than the people who already worked at the Daily Cal. So I ran home from Sproul and submitted my application an hour later, just sneaking in under the deadline.

A week later, I interviewed for a position with the sports desk. In that interview? Michael Rosen. Oops. But he was cool, his editor, Seung Lee, was cool, and I was hired.

From there, I covered some great beats, served as an editor for way too long and generally threw myself into this job like nothing else. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I came to Cal. It didn’t take long at the Daily Cal for me to figure it out.

My time at the Daily Cal was all a lead-up to last semester, when I was the sports editor. That semester had everything: controversy, long hours, boring meetings and great, great work. It was New York’s hottest night club.

That semester took everything from me. With a job and class, I was working 15-hour days regularly. I thought about quitting almost twice a week. But I made it through, and it’s my semester that proved, “If I can do this, I can do anything.” I’m happy I did it, and I’m proud of the great work my department accomplished that semester.

There are so many people that have helped me along the way that I can only list a few. Michael and Seung gave me my shot, and they were the best mentors for me. Sean and Shannon were the most faithful partners in crime — I can’t imagine having gotten through it without them. There are so many more — you know who you are.

I’m going to miss the Daily Cal. I’m going to miss the Bay Area. I’m going to miss a million and one people that I’ve met here. I’m going to miss Berkeley. This is it, it’s time to head into the wild green yonder.

Riley McAtee was the sports editor in fall 2014. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @riley_mcatee

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