When I was touring colleges as a high schooler, I developed a tradition. At each school I went to, I picked up a copy of the student newspaper to take home with me. Half of the challenge was finding the newspapers hidden away in remote locations. The rest was avoiding ink stained hands. I remember reading through the papers and thinking about how much I wanted to be a sports reporter. Getting to sit in press boxes and talk to athletes? It just didn’t seem like something that could actually come true.
Flash forward four years and I’m writing my obligatory sports editor weepy goodbye column. I got to spend seven semesters working for a paper that I’ll forever be dedicated to.
All that’s left to do now is the thing I hate the most: saying goodbye.
It’s probably why I avoided writing this until the last minute. These columns are the rare instances when the sports desk gets sentimental, giving former editors too many inches to reminisce and appreciate the people who have helped them improve and stay sane. And to continue on the tradition seemed like a burden I was not ready to carry.
When I first got to UC Berkeley, applying to the Daily Cal just seemed like something I was doing to appease the fantasies of what a college experience could be. I never actually thought I would be accepted. This somehow ended up being article number 197.
What followed was two years covering four different beats and learning what it meant to be a sports reporter. At first, it just seemed like a club that could generate friends. People who knew far more about sports than I had ever imagined shared their knowledge with me, and I finally had an outlet for my love of sports.
Serving as an editor my junior year was the hardest, most satisfying experience. I worked on countless stories, walked home from editing football Game Day issues after the sun had already risen, almost froze my fingers off writing a story in Eugene, Oregon, investigated stories of sexual assault and spent more hours than I care to count with some of the best people I have ever met. I was at the office far more than I was anywhere else. I found a home.
I owe this organization more thanks than leaving behind the tradition of ordering cheesy sticks for special issue production nights. In the short-term, the Daily Cal gave me a home very far from home and introduced me to a passion to carry with me through college. In the long-run, I found a career and gained the necessary tools to function in the real world.
This column is being finished on the same day that dozens of excellent writers are being laid-off at ESPN. It is an absolutely terrifying time to be heading away from the safety of this paper into the world of journalism (although when is it not?). But the future seems especially uncertain and I can only hope that wherever I end up, reporting will never seem like work.
All that I do know is that there are some people that I would not have grown without.
First of all to my mom and my sister: your feedback and support mean more than I could ever explain. And to my dad who reads my work even when I forget to tell him I wrote something, your opinion means more than you know. Thank you for being my most loyal readers and editors.
Thank you to Michael and Sean for hiring me, although I’m still not sure why you did. I owe so much to the two of you. You taught me how to be a reporter, and that it’s always a good idea to use obscure song titles for feature headlines.
To Riley and Shannon, thank you for helping me grow and keeping me engaged at a time when many people I was hired with decided to move on. I became a significantly better writer under your leadership and I am so appreciative of the opportunities you provided me.
Well Michelle, here you go. I gave you a shout-out.
To Hooman, thank you for being an amazing assistant and a great friend. I am so lucky that I got to have you by my side for a semester, someone who cared just as much as I did about the paper. Thank you for laughing at my bad jokes and listening to my rants (or at least pretending to?). May the Sonny Dykes jokes never end.
Okay Michelle, calm down. Thank you for taking a chance on me as your assistant. You taught me what it means to stand up for myself, to have confidence in the choices I make and how to be a leader. Getting a friendship that allows no-questions-asked ranting at any time of day was more than I could have imagined.
To everyone whose work I’ve edited along the way, know it was an honor and how proud I am to have played a part in your development. I hope I helped you in some way, and I can’t wait to see and read all that you accomplish. I couldn’t be leaving the paper in better hands.
I wish I could go back and tell myself that it is just as cool as I imagined. That if you work hard enough, you can cover first-round picks and Olympians. That if you put all you can into it, you can be heading off to cover an MLB team after you graduate. That the fantasy I had in my head couldn’t have ever predicted just how much fun this job is.
So, those who will remain at the Daily Cal, please continue to learn from each other and spend far too many hours in that office. Be too dedicated and eat far too many cheesy sticks. Most of all, continue to put everything you can into this paper, because you never know who might pick it up.