I want to share a story with you.
This situation did not happen on one particular night or in a single situation. This has happened several times, in different places, with different people.
I was at Ted’s, or a party at someone’s house, or in the Student Union or somewhere else on campus. Someone I had never met came up to me and started a conversation.
“Hey,” they said. “You’re the kid from The Daily Campus, right? The sports guy?”
There are a lot of people at The Daily Campus, and many of us work in the sports department. I knew what they meant, however. This started happening at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year, when I started writing this column and my headshot was printed above it.
I do apologize for the weekly presence of my face.
But when I would tell them that I was indeed a writer for the sports section, I was always pleasantly surprised by the response.
“I love your column,” they would say (most of them, at least). “I read it every week. And I enjoy your basketball stories, too. Do you think we have a shot at going all the way?”
This is not a story to boost my own ego. That does not need any more padding than it already has. This story does serve as an introduction to this statement, however…
Thank you to everyone who has ever picked up The Daily Campus to read my column, or any of my stories about golf, volleyball, men’s hockey, softball, women’s soccer, football, women’s basketball or men’s basketball. Thank you to everyone who has ever clicked to see them through Facebook or Twitter and engaged in conversation about the subject. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to approach me, text me or tweet at me to tell me they appreciate my work.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
This is my penultimate column for The Daily Campus. I have spent four of my five incredible years at UConn writing for this news paper. It has truly been an honor to be involved with such a fantastic organization. Not many journalism students have the opportunity to write for a daily publication. Many publish once or twice a week. We still publish Monday to Friday, and it says so much about the people who work for this news paper. To produce original content on a daily basis for a college news paper is an incredible accomplishment, and I am proud to have been part of it.
But it would all be for nothing if you did not take the time to read that content. We do this for you, the reader.
I did not join the sports department at this newspaper because I was raised as a diehard UConn sports fan. I did not do it to get into games for free and to be able to say, “I know Shabazz Napier and Stefanie Dolson.”
I joined the sports department at this newspaper because I have always loved being a storyteller and I have always loved sports. I strive every day to tell you the story of our school’s sports teams through my eyes.
To say it has been an honor and a privilege would not do it justice.
I have been able to share some incredible stories with you, like the 2012 UConn volleyball team’s rise to the top of the Big East standings after being picked near the bottom in the preseason. The same thing happened that winter with the men’s hockey team, which earned a first-round bye under Dave Berard after the resignation of head coach Bruce Marshall.
I also had the privilege of covering the beginning of the Mike Cavanaugh and Hockey East eras for the hockey team. Hopefully, my work with The UConn Blog will keep me on the #IceBus for the foreseeable future. Not many coaches are as fun to cover as Cavanaugh.
But nothing I have done in my life has been more special than covering the 2013-14 UConn men’s basketball team. One year removed from a postseason ban, the Huskies did what they do best: win the national championship.
From the day before the American Athletic Conference tournament through the day after the national championship game, I followed the team to Memphis, Buffalo, Manhattan and Dallas. During that month, I slept in my own bed—be it at UConn or home in Portland—six times. The rest of the month was spent on uncomfortable hotel beds after spending long days and nights at the arena.
And I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Being there every step of the way was incredible as a basketball fan and as a diehard Husky, but I put that all to the side because I was doing something even more important.
I was sharing the experiences with you.
I did my best to capture the emotions of everyone involved in that run – from the fans who made the trip to Dallas, to an emotional Niels Giffey after beating Michigan State, to Ray Allen, the proud UConn alum standing next to Richard Hamilton with a smile on his face in the locker room after the championship game. Sharing that story with you was what I wanted to do my whole life, and I hope I painted a fitting word picture for you.
I split this thank you into two parts because there are too many people to thank and too many stories to share, and I am already over 900 words. It was important to me to start with a thank you to you, the reader, because I do what I do to serve you.
Just because I am graduating and leaving The Daily Campus does not mean this is the end, however. I am still with The UConn Blog, and I hope to continue sharing the stories of our school’s incredible athletic programs with you, because this is what I love to do.
I could not do it without you, so thank you.