Senior Column: DB’s final word

The author, then and now.

I truly can’t believe this will be my final story ever published for The Daily Campus. I still remember my first: A UConn in the NFL story from September 5, 2018 that I probably spent more time on than I should have. A lot has changed since then. I’ve become a dad and lived through a global pandemic, among other minor things. You know, just a perfectly normal college experience.

Not quite, and that goes back to before that first Daily Campus article. All the way back to when I was a bright-eyed freshman majoring in chemical engineering.

First of all, shoutout to anyone who is graduating this week with a degree in chemical, electrical or any other type of engineering. You all are absolutely insane, but I respect the hell out of you.

You’re probably wondering why I picked engineering in the first place. Great question. Well, I didn’t exactly pick it. I had no idea what I wanted to study in college, but I was my high school’s class salutatorian, which basically just means I tricked a lot of people into thinking I was really smart. Because of that, my counselors recommended I go into engineering. I didn’t even know what engineering was. I just knew it had to do with math and science and it paid a lot of money. How bad could it be?

Well my first semester, I learned that I didn’t actually like chemistry (which was the reason I picked chemical engineering). I just liked the fun experiments I got to do with my lab group in high school, but those really had nothing to do with the boring and brutal concepts of college chemistry. After a tough but survivable first semester, I made the lateral shift to electrical engineering because it seemed more interesting.

Wrong again. The intro to electrical engineering course was a nightmare. All the coding and the wires and nothing ever worked properly. I’m getting chills just thinking about that garbage. It didn’t help that I was taking three other difficult math and science courses on top of a couple of gen-eds.

That semester was a very dark time for me, one of the darkest of my life. I was constantly overburdening myself doing work for classes I hated. I knew I had made a mistake, but I didn’t know how to fix it. I felt trapped. It sent me into a depressive spiral, and I was taking my anger out on people I cared about. Something had to give. I couldn’t go on like that.

I’ve never been one to quit something, but I knew I didn’t want to continue engineering for another month, let alone for the next 50 years as a career. Luckily, I had supportive people around me. My girlfriend Kayla, as well as my parents, saw I was miserable. They encouraged me to find something I enjoyed, even if that meant taking a semester off to figure it out.

Now with a light at the end of the tunnel, I turned my attention away from my schoolwork and toward finding a new path. I knew I wanted to do something with sports, and in my research, I came across sports journalism as a possibility. Funny enough, when I was in elementary and middle school, I actually wanted to go into sports media, but it didn’t seem like a realistic career choice so I kind of forgot about it.

But in April of 2018, it seemed like the ideal path to pursue. I loved sports and had all this knowledge and insight about them. This would give me an opportunity to actually use that for something. At that point, I decided to make my biggest hobby my career path. That decision changed my life for the better.

Over the next month, I started making the necessary changes to get my life back on track. By the time I came home in early May, I was already registered as a pre-journalism major, I was writing my own Red Sox blog to get in the groove of sports writing and I was in the process of landing a summer internship covering sports with my local papers. And I still somehow managed to finish the semester with good grades (I’m still not sure how because I couldn’t have been less focused on engineering work at that point). Pretty productive month if I do say so myself.

Since then, things have been pretty good (with the exception of a pandemic that disrupted everyone’s lives, but this is a positive column so we’re going to steer clear of that subject). That summer was great, learning the business on the fly and continuing to cover the Red Sox during their incredible 108-win World Series campaign. When I went back to UConn in the fall, I felt like a new person. I immediately got involved with UCTV Sports and The Daily Campus Sports section. I started taking classes that actually interested me. It was liberating.

I’m not going to go through every single thing I did, but over the next three school years, I got to cover well over 100 different UConn sporting events either for the DC, UCTV or for my other UConn Athletics job I got my junior year, writing feature stories on different athletes and teams. I fell in love with UConn sports over this time, which you can read about in my last regular column. I have done work with every single one of UConn’s teams in some form, and it’s been truly amazing.

I worked my way up to being the DC’s Sports editor this year, a role that I really enjoyed despite the challenges the pandemic brought. It was awesome to get to lead the coverage of both UConn sports and professional sports when there were no UConn sports last fall. I wouldn’t trade any of my experiences from the past three years for anything. Of course there’s been difficult days and weeks, but it’s different when you’re working toward something that really matters to you. I love telling stories of games and athletes, and I hope I get to do that for a long, long time.

Now, let’s get to the “Thank You” portion of my column.

First off, thank you to my parents Judy and Michael for all their support especially over the past few years, but really long before that. You have helped me to become the person I am today, and I try my best to make you proud. I appreciate you both encouraging me to do what I love and continuing to read or watch my content after all this time. It means a lot that you care so much. I love you both.

Next, thank you to my amazing girlfriend Kayla. I’m positive I wouldn’t be here writing this right now and probably wouldn’t be here at all if it weren’t for you. You’ve been with me through everything in the past 3.5 years, the good and the bad, and I cherish you for that. Having your consistent love and support has allowed me to become more confident in myself. You’re an amazing person, my best friend and an awesome mom to Miss Natalie. I love you with all my heart, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us (and before you get mad at me, Natalie will be getting her own shoutout at the end, don’t worry).

Thank you to Maureen Croteau for being so welcoming to me in the journalism department. From the first meeting I had with you about becoming a journalism major, you were nothing but kind. You made it seem like UConn journalism could be a home to me, and it’s become just that. As my advisor for the past three years, you have continued to be a great mentor to me through my college journey. Best of luck to you in retirement.

In that same vein, thank you to all the UConn journalism professors I had for my classes. You all are wonderful people and teachers. Specifically, thank you to Mike Stanton, who I’ve had for four different classes at this point. In addition to being a great professor and journalist in your own right, you’ve been a great mentor to me. I appreciate all your feedback on my stories and your help in my job hunt.

Thank you to Conner Gilson, my associate Sports editor this year and my beat partner for multiple sports. It’s been an absolute pleasure working with you. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner this year. It wasn’t always easy, but I think we made a pretty great team running the Sports section. You’re a great writer, and I can’t wait to see where you end up.

Also, thank you to The Daily Campus Sports family: To the Sports editors I worked under, Mike Logan and Andrew Morrison, for paving the way and giving me opportunities to improve as a writer; to the people I’ve been on beats with, like Mike Mavredakis and Jorge Eckardt in addition to Conner; and to the entire staff for the work you all put in to make my job as editor pretty easy. I know Ashton Stansel and Jon Synott are going to do a great job leading the section next year, so I can’t wait to continue following along.

Thank you to the DC executives Peter Fenteany, Alex Houdeshell and Courtney Gavitt. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity as Sports editor. I hope I didn’t disappoint. I enjoyed working with all three of you both as an editor and during production as a designer and copy editor. We always had a good time.

Thank you to everyone I worked with at UCTV. I got a lot of great opportunities there and developed skills that will be very necessary in my career.

Thank you to all the SIDs in the athletic office. You all were very helpful, and I enjoyed working with you. Thank you especially to Pat McKenna for giving me the opportunity to work with even more teams and write even more stories as a feature writer in the department. I really appreciate it.

Finally, thank you to all the athletes and coaches I’ve had the privilege of covering. All your hard work is what allows me to do what I love. Thank you for always providing thoughtful and honest answers to my questions. It meant a lot as a young reporter to be given the same respect as experienced beat writers.

I’m sure I could think of more people to thank, but in trying to keep this column under 2,000 words, I think I’ll stop there. I just have one more person to talk about: My daughter Natalie. While my journey as a sports writer began three years ago, my much more important journey as a father began 16 months ago. I’m still figuring it out every day, but I love you so much Nat. You made me grow up a little faster than I maybe wanted to, but you also taught me what’s really important in life. There’s nothing more perfect in this world than a baby, and I fell in love with you from the moment I first held you. You’re my whole world. Everything I do in life from now on is with you in mind. I’m not sure what the future holds, and that’s a little scary. But as long as I’m with you and Kay, I know I’ll be alright.

Ok, I lied a little bit. I have one more thank you: To anyone who has read this (quite long) story or any of my others over the years. It means a lot that anyone takes any time out of their day to read what I have to say. I hope you will continue to follow along wherever I end up.

I’m not sure how to wrap this up cleanly, so I’ll just say I’ve loved my time as a UConn Husky and am sad it’s coming to an end. But with this chapter ending, a new one will begin, and for that, I’m truly excited.

So long, farewell and thank you!

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