Making a big school feel small

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Even growing up a huge sports fan, I never really considered the possibility of going to a big sports school. I watched college sports on TV and I saw players as professional athletes, not students.

Four years ago, I applied to UConn with little intention of actually coming here. It still didn’t feel like a possibility when I came for an accepted students open house and saw Shabazz Napier walk into Gampel Pavilion with the national championship trophy.

From that first day I set foot in Storrs, I loved it here. I loved the campus, the atmosphere and the school spirit. I loved everything about UConn, from academics to athletics to aesthetics, but I was intimidated by its sheer size. I wondered whether I could handle the culture shock of not knowing anybody outside of one friend from my small high school in upstate New York.

A tour guide at that open house said something that resonated with me as I was making my college decision and has sat with me ever since.

“You can always make a big school smaller, but you can’t make a small school bigger,” the guide said at the end of our tour.

Those simple words helped calm my 18-year-old nerves and confirmed that a school like UConn is where I wanted to be. A month later, I picked out-of-state UConn over a much cheaper New York state school, and it was easily the best decision I’ve ever made.

The Daily Campus is a huge reason for that.

I hated writing as I went through school. I dreaded writing essays, as most students do, and frankly, I wasn’t great at it. The writing section of my SAT was by far the lowest of the three, nearly 300 points behind my passion of math.

Ironically, now I love writing (at least when it’s about sports), and I’m not sure how I’m going to sit at a desk and do math for the rest of my life.

I joined the DC sports section sophomore year because my two best friends had already joined and I really enjoyed seeing their articles in print. Those two, current sports editors Tyler Keating and Chris Hanna, convinced me to try it out, and here we are three years later with countless memories and a much deeper bond. I didn’t expect the DC to play as big a role in our lives as it has, but I couldn’t be happier.

The DC has provided me with the chance to do so many unbelievable things. I’ve covered a Final Four, sat in the press box at Fenway Park and interviewed several future professional athletes. If you told me I’d do that when I decided to come to UConn, I would have immediately signed up, even if the tuition was doubled.

I know I made the right choice in picking UConn, and I know everything I’ve learned at the Daily Campus will help me as I work toward my career goals. Although these goals don’t involve writing at the moment, who knows what the future holds?

As I wrap up the (likely) last piece that I’ll ever publish, I want to thank every single person who has read any of my articles. It may not seem like much, but you all mean so much to me. Taking a few minutes to acknowledge somebody’s hard work can really make that person’s day, and I can’t thank you enough for being there for me, directly or indirectly, on this journey.

Thank you to Tyler and Chris, for being incredible editors and even better friends. Tyler, thank you for going out of your comfort zone to go to a sports meeting freshman year, and then for convincing Chris and me to join you. Your admirable passion for writing has remained the same since your blogging before the DC days. Chris, the fun times we had on the women’s basketball beat together are moments I’ll remember for my entire life. You question your decision to pursue journalism far too often for somebody as talented and dedicated as you are.

Thank you to my former sports editor Dan Madigan,who, along with Tyler, pushed me and believed in my ability when I wasn’t sure I did. Thank you for helping me grow as a writer and for all of the hard work you put into this section.

Thank you to all of the coaches and players I’ve worked with over the past three years, and thank you to Stephanie Sheehan for making them all mad at me because of her columns (you’re actually the best, Steph, and I can’t wait to see what you’ll do in the future).

Thank you to my parents, for being my biggest fans. You didn’t know much about UConn when I committed, but you both quickly started bleeding blue for the past four years. Your unquestioning support means more than you’ll ever know.

I’m going to miss my college experience and I’m going to miss everything about the Daily Campus. I’ve grown into a completely new, better person than I was four years ago, and I owe all of that to the relationships I’ve built at UConn.

Thank you, the Daily Campus, for making this gigantic school feel a little smaller.


Josh Buser is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joshua.buser@uconn.edu.

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