Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Reflecting over three years as a sports writer

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(Jamie Cushman)

If you would have told me four years ago that before leaving college I would have the chance to reflect on spending three-and-a-half years as a sports writer, I would have thought you were insane.

But that’s the position I find myself in today thanks to the tremendous experience I had with the sports section at the Massachusetts Daily Collegian.

While my Collegian career may have started simply as a way to get my mom off my back about joining an extracurricular club on campus, it became so much more.

I gained real-life experience as to what it takes to be a sports writer. I learned more covering sports for the Collegian than I ever could in a classroom.

I met the most talented journalists on campus and established relationships with people that I hope continue once we leave campus.

I developed my writing ability more than I could have ever imagined. While a number of pieces had to fall into place for me to get a story published with ESPN while at UMass, I can say with absolute certainty that I would’ve never had that opportunity if it wasn’t for the Collegian and the experience I gained here beforehand.

I realized that I wanted to continue sports writing after leaving UMass because of the Collegian, which was no small task for someone who entered college undeclared with zero plans for the future.

I’m also grateful that the Collegian forced me to step out of my comfort zone.

Before coming to UMass I couldn’t tell you how many players are on the field during a lacrosse game, and now I’ve covered the men’s lacrosse team for the past two seasons.

Hell, my first beat was rowing, and though I still couldn’t tell you anything about rowing, taking those stories helped me become a better all-around sports writer.

With my Collegian career now sadly coming to a close, I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the people responsible for making my time here a success.

I’d like to thank all of the Sports Information Directors (SIDs) who have helped me over the years, especially John Sinnett and Cody Lahl. Those two guys were always willing to help me, whether it was setting up interviews, or in Cody’s case, explaining to me just what the hell was going on out on the lacrosse field.

I’d like to thank you, the reader. Working on something appreciated by other people is very rewarding, so if you’ve ever read something I wrote and enjoyed it, shoot me an email or a message on Twitter, I’d love to hear from you (or let me know if you didn’t like something I wrote. Sadistically, I kind of like those even messages more).

Finally I’d like to save my biggest thanks for the sports editors and assistant editors that have worked so hard for me and the section the past four years.

Admittedly I’m a bit biased, but I’ve always thought that sports was the best section of the paper, and that’s due to all of your hard work.

Nearly every time a change was made to one of my stories it was for the better, but there’s still one lede-that-never-was that sticks in my mind over a year later.

Last year the UMass women’s basketball team ended a rough regular season with a five-game winning streak, including a win over La Salle in the season finale.

The Minutewomen then played the Explorers in the first round of the Atlantic 10 tournament, once again defeating La Salle.

Considering the circumstances — back-to-back UMass wins against a school from Philadelphia — I knew I had to make a reference to the Drake and Meek Mill feud.

And while I completely understand why my lede was changed because it’s a reference very few people would understand, I still feel the need to work a Drake reference into my time at the Collegian somehow, so this is what I’ll leave you with, my unedited lede from UMass’ win over La Salle in the A-10 tournament on March 2, 2016.

“When Drake released the song ‘Back to Back’ last summer, the entire city of Philadelphia took a blow, much like the blow of the back to back wins the Massachusetts women’s basketball team dealt to the Philadelphia-based La Salle.”

Jamie Cushman can be reached at [email protected], and followed on Twitter @Jamie__Cushman.

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