As I sit down to write this column, I realize I am woefully unprepared. I have been thinking about how I was going to write this ever since I was a freshman, but now that it’s finally here, I’m drawing a complete, utter blank.
This, of course, is not the only sentimental column I will pen in the next few weeks. I know, I know, it’s gratuitous. Why do I need two of these to get my point across? My job is to be succinct, after all. But I know this will not be as tear-jerking as I would like it to be.
This feeling of uncertainty directly parallels the feeling I experienced when I walked into my very first Daily Campus sports meeting. My boyfriend was a sportswriter at the DC at that time and had basically hooked me up with the fall softball beat before I even took a class at UConn.
Problem was, I had no idea what I was doing. But I wanted to do something above and beyond to stand out — even beyond the fall softball beat — so I pitched doing an MLB power rankings article. I wrote it during my English class and sent it in, eagerly awaiting seeing my name in the paper the next day.
It never got printed.
In its place was a giant, full-page ad for basketball season tickets. I was so devastated that I cried on the roof of North Garage that night. Matt Zampini, if you’re reading this, I hope you feel a small amount of guilt for cutting my story and not telling me.
All jokes aside, I quickly got over this hiccup when my desire to prove myself overcame my default setting of social anxiety. I went from being way too afraid to ask the softball coach questions for a fall softball recap to sitting courtside at Gampel writing about a four-time national championship team in the span of a year.
That, to me, speaks more to what the editors saw in me more than anything. When I came to UConn, I thought I wanted to do PR and social media. I liked writing and sports, so I decided that I’d just combine the two for the time being as I decided how I’d become the Mets social media manager one day. After all, I really only liked baseball and barely knew much about any other sport.
Things never work out the way you expect them to, though. The Daily Campus made me fall in love with sports writing, with telling stories how they need to be told and giving the spotlight to people who don’t normally have it. Covering college basketball, even a team that was bad at it, made me fall in love with the madness.
I was never very confident in myself. Sports gave me something to attach to; I would become so obsessed with it that nobody could doubt my knowledge. Anyone who knows me knows I like the Mets a little too much, and as a result I have never once experienced happiness. But hey, it builds character!
There are, of course, a ton of people I need to thank. I would be remiss not to mention my boyfriend, but he thinks senior columns are dumb so I’ll spare him the name-drop. The aforementioned Matt Zampini and Dan Madigan were my first sports editors, and the comradery of the section they spearheaded just made me want to be a part of it more. Thank you both for seeing something in me.
I have to give a quick shoutout to UConn baseball head coach Jim Penders. Penders is truly one of the best coaches on this campus and was very kind to me when I was on the baseball beat as a freshman and beyond. He’s built an incredible program here in the Northeast and deserves all the respect he gets and then some.
Thank you to Tyler Keating, who suffered not only through two terrible UConn football seasons but also through two terrible men’s basketball seasons with me. It would not have been half as bearable without you accidentally getting off the wrong exit after that Memphis win, or when we went to the Sugar Factory and almost got pretty patties. You’re a great friend and truly the best writer who has come through the DC in my time. Sorry I beat you in mini golf.
Thanks to Chris Hanna, Josh Buser and Matt Barresi, the OG core who made those mid-February sports meetings fun. Thanks Andrew Morrison for joining me on the men’s beat this year; you’re in for a fun, fun season next year. And thanks to Mike Logan, whose name I’m putting in moments after we just joked about not putting each other’s names in our columns. What you did with the section this year was incredible, and I hope for it to continue. And shout out to the new group of writers, of which there are too many to name, who I know will do a great job with the section in the coming years. I hope whoever’s got men’s basketball next year gets to see the March Madness I never got to see. Say hi to Jon Rothstein for me.
And finally, thanks to my Dad, the most loyal Daily Campus reader and supporter of my obsessive baseball endeavors there is. He doesn’t know I’m writing this, but he’ll inevitably see it. Text me once you read this.
This will not be my last sentimental column bidding the Daily Campus farewell. It will not be the last time I get a story cut unexpectedly, or the last time I’ll ever get nervous talking to a coach, or the last time I will ever pen a gamer. Those things never go away. But what will stay is the things I’ve learned while I was here and the friends I made along the way (I’m sorry, I had to).
I’m still unprepared, but at least now I feel a bit more ready than when I started.
Stephanie Sheehan is the managing editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com. She tweets @steph_sheehan.