As I was narrowing down my choices to figure out where I’d end up for college, my mom gave her two cents on the matter.
“You can go anywhere you want,” she said. “As long as it’s UConn.”
Even to this day, I’m not entirely sure she was joking. But it’s not like I really wanted to go anywhere else either.
I’d wanted to be a Husky ever since I was little. My parents and I watched seemingly every football and basketball game on TV. We went to nearly all the games at the Civic Center and Gampel Pavilion. It wasn’t just me that had Husky fever, it’s actually rampant in my family. Both my parents, my grandfather and countless aunts, uncles and cousins all graduated from UConn. We joke that we literally bleed blue. I guess you could say I was destined to show up in Storrs.
I’ll never forget driving up to Gampel with my parents, aunts and uncles for countless men’s basketball games, visits to the Dairy Bar and even a few plays at Jorgensen Theater. I remember walking through the Co-op after games and eating Panda Express in the Student Union.
But most of all, I remember looking at the student section for basketball games, in all its loud and rowdy glory and thinking “I want to be a part of that.”
So when I found out I got accepted into UConn, I knew I was going to go there. I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else, to be honest. Four years later, I couldn’t be happier.
Aside from making the decision to come to UConn, I really think the second-best decision I’ve made in my life was to join The Daily Campus.
I’ve always loved sports, even ones that don’t involve UConn, and was a strong writer in high school. When I got to campus, I was in the business school, but came awfully close to picking journalism as my major. Instead, I figured that I could join The DC, maybe write about Major League Baseball and see where it went from there.
At the Fall Involvement Fair of my freshman year, I made a beeline to The DC’s table. I talked with the people working at the table and told them I wanted to write for the sports section.
“We have a lot of sports writers,” the person said. “You could start in the news or opinion section and then move later if you want.”
I knew I wanted to write about sports, and frankly, that’s really the only thing I knew well enough to write about. So I waited a semester, and after returning from winter break, I walked across the hall from my room in North to my friend Matt Zampini’s room, and asked if I could tag along for the first sports section meeting of the spring semester.
From that first Monday night meeting, I was hooked.
Three and a half years later, my time at The DC is up, and I think I’d do just about anything to go back in time and join that first semester. The Daily Campus allowed me to meet so many amazing and talented people that I am lucky to call my friends.
The Daily Campus allowed me to travel the country to cover the most dominant team in the history of college basketball and two fantastic (but drastically different) Final Fours. I never imagined I’d see the confetti fall in Indianapolis last year, or see the women’s basketball team’s streak end in front of my very own eyes in Dallas this season. Those experiences, those memories in Indianapolis with Bailey Wright and Spencer Mayfield and in Dallas with Jackson Haigis and Matt Kren are unforgettable.
The Daily Campus allowed me to experience so many amazing moments in the history of UConn athletics, ranging from men’s hockey’s first-ever Hockey East win and the women’s team’s 100th win in a row to the worst season in the history of UConn softball.
Not to mention, I was able to talk with and get to know so many fantastic student-athletes and coaches, ranging from Noel Thomas, Cyle Larin and Breanna Stewart to Ray Reid, Geno Auriemma and Jim Calhoun. For a Connecticut kid, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Before I go any further, I have to stop and take a minute to thank everyone who has supported me over these past four years. Thank you to everyone who’s read any of my articles and columns these past few years. The feedback, comments and support mean more than you will ever know.
Thank you to my parents, who have always supported through my journalistic endeavors, even driving me through the snow a handful of times to cover the hockey team my sophomore year and doing so much more. There aren’t enough words I can write to express how much I appreciate your constant love and support. While I’m sad to be graduating from UConn, I’m excited to celebrate with my two favorite alumni soon enough.
To Jess Baicker, my amazing girlfriend and occasional copy editor, I’m so happy, but not surprised, that The DC brought us together. You’ve been so supportive of me from Day One, and I’m so thankful to have you in my life.
To Tim Fontenault, Matt Stypulkoski and Katie McWilliams, thank you all for taking a chance on me and continuing to help me with all of my questions. I’m happy to call you all my friends.
To Matt Zabierek and Kayvon Ghoreshi, thank you for trusting me enough to pick me as associate sports editor last year. Zab, you’re one of my favorite people I’ve ever worked for and I’m lucky you’re one of my best friends.
To Tyler Keating, it’s been an absolute pleasure working with you this year. How you put up with my constant talking, mediocre-at-best ideas and random text barrages is beyond me. You’ve become one of my closest friends over this past year and I cannot wait to see how great the section is next year with you at the helm. You’re going to be great.
And last but not least, Zamp, thanks for everything that you’ve done for me. You’ve been my best friend since I stepped onto campus here at UConn and introduced me to The DC and everyone that’s a part of it. I’m forever grateful for that.
Most importantly, I’m so thankful to have been even small part of this fantastic newspaper. I really don’t know where I’d be without The Daily Campus. The people, the experiences and the skills I’ve learned here have played such a huge role in becoming the person I am today.
Writing and talking with people every day are skills that are more important now than ever, but are often overlooked. While I won’t be continuing my career as a journalist full-time, learning and honing these skills at The DC helped me land a job with Cigna’s IT leadership program, called TECDP. Yes, my management information systems major helped, but my writing skills from The DC are what make me a little different from everyone else.
Of course, I’ll still be writing, probably still about sports. I love it too much to stop cold-turkey. But I’ll certainly miss doing it for the DC, and miss plenty more than just writing about this truly special place.
I’ll miss the late nights in production and writing on deadline. I’ll miss the rush of breaking news, dropping everything to write a story and talking to athletes and coaches. I’ll miss getting calls from various UConn SIDs telling me I don’t know how to use Twitter. But most of all, I’ll miss those meetings, now on Sunday nights, and being around my favorite people and talking about sports and everything else.
I’ll miss being sports editor. It was hectic at times, but this year was so much fun. Seeing so many young writers constantly improve was more rewarding than anything I’ve ever done or written. Setting up Women in Sports Week with Tyler and talking to so many inspiring women that I looked up to as a kid was a fantastic experience. Working with the rest of the editors to produce fantastic content everyday was a grind, but well worth it.
This column will almost certainly be the last thing I write that will ever be printed, that I can pick up and hold. I’ll never forget the feeling of seeing my first article in the paper, an Olympic hockey point-counterpoint article in early February of 2014.
Over 350 or so articles later, I think I’ll get that same feeling when I pick up this one. Who knew some paper with words on it could send chills down your spine and butterflies in your stomach?
It just means to me to have been able to attend this school and to write for this paper.
I’m not really sure why, but I just have a feeling I’ll end up back here someday for good. Maybe it’s because I love it here at UConn so much. Maybe it’s because I’m just getting sentimental about graduating. But either way, I love this school, this paper and all the people that are a part of it. And for now, it’s time to start the rest of my life.