Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

One final goodbye

(Andrew Cyr)

I enrolled to the University of Massachusetts as a journalism major as someone who hated writing and had zero intentions of working for a newspaper.

Yet here I sit, 312 stories later, with No. 313 being the hardest, and most difficult assignment I’ve been tasked with in my four years at the Massachusetts Daily Collegian.

One thing is certain, though. One column will never do the justice for the appreciation I have for the Collegian and everything it did for me.

I first entered the windowless office during my first weekend of college. While everyone was outside or in the dorms meeting new faces and getting acclimated to the freedom and aura of living on their own for the first time, one of my best friends from my hometown and an assistant sports editor at the time, Mark Chiarelli, brought me down and introduced me to some people. He told me that if I wanted to be successful in this industry, I better get started writing.

He was right.

So I wrote, and wrote some more. A lot more.

Every week I came to the sports meetings and always jumped at the first opportunity to take a story. Whether it was Mid-American football notebooks or the rowing recaps that no one would do, I always said yes. It was until the editor in chief at the time, Steve Hewitt, – to this day we still talk crazy NBA hypotheticals and share clips of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson from the 1980s until 2 a.m. some nights (we’re weird, I know) – gave me my first real story about former UMass basketball player Tony Gaffney that I realized how much fun this was.

The next morning Derek Kellogg texted me saying he read my story and that he liked it. At 18 years old, that was the coolest thing in the world to me. A Division I basketball coach texting me, saying good job on a story I wrote? How many people could say that?

It wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the Collegian and UMass.

I’ll always remember what it was like to be the youngest one in the room having absolutely no idea what was going on. I got a bloody nose seconds before my interview to become an assistant editor my freshman year and did the entire thing with blood stains on my sweater vest. I remember my first couple nights of doing layout when I spelled “explodes” wrong in the headline – sports editor Nick Canelas took more of the blame for that than me – or the time I stayed until well past our deadline finishing the sports pages, watching the older, experienced staff members perfect the Boston Marathon anniversary issue.

After they finished, they invited me to come to the Route 9 Diner to celebrate. It was close to 3 a.m. and I had class early the next morning. I didn’t feel like it was my place to go. I was the only freshman there and had been on staff for less than a month. Yet after all the peer pressure and the stack of M&M pancakes in front of me still not knowing everyone’s name at the table, I felt like I was apart of something special – that I belonged with them. It wasn’t until close to 4 a.m. that I finally arrived back at my dorm that morning. Dozing off, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “what am I doing?”

Four years later, I can finally answer that question.

I was doing the right thing.

The memories and relationships I made will always stick with me for the rest of my life. From the intense ethical conversations to the heated debates about pointless issues to turning the office into a live Dave Matthews Band concert, the late nights in the Collegian or out covering games were some of my favorite experiences during my four years of college. I’ll always remember murdering flies at Gillette Stadium with Bob McGovern, ripping my pants in the hotel parking lot before the Penn State game or when Matt Vautour finally broke Tony Chiusano out of his comfort zone and provided some of the best one-liners about what he’d do for a Jets Super Bowl and his disappointment with Mike Piazza’s frosted tips as we drove through Pennsylvania in the middle of the night.

It was a weird transformation going from the kid who didn’t know anything and always finding new ways to break InDesign, to the grizzled veteran that everyone came to for questions. Watching the lights go out at McGuirk Stadium as I finished a story and walking through the tunnel one last time at Mullins Center after I covered my final game were surreal moments that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t walk through those Collegian doors four years ago.

The four years went by in a blink of an eye, and I’m happy I took the time to appreciate everything in the moment. I’m going to miss all of it – especially the people – but the best part about my experience was that I have no regrets and have only one thing left to say:

Thank you.

First, to Chat, for taking a know-it-all 18-year-old kid who thought he was the smartest person in the room and putting him in his place. You guys took interest in me and not only made me better person every single day I was down here, but entered me into your personal lives. We’ve attended the first of many weddings, send roughly 400 texts each day and you all always answered any question I had long after you graduated, no matter how incoherent or grammatically incorrect those messages were. I wouldn’t be close to as successful as I am today if it wasn’t for all eight of you constantly pushing me. I always felt like the annoying little brother to you guys, and just being a part of it all was special to me.

And to the Collegian, for giving me a place to grow, learn and work alongside some of the smartest individuals I’ve ever met. It gave me a place to make mistakes, chase my own stories and taught me more than any class ever could. It’s where I made some of my best friends in life, heard some amazing stories – like the one about little Rudy and Liesel – and everything else that molded me into the professional that I’ve become today. I don’t know what the next four years of my life will look like or if I’ll even still be in this field when I retire, but my biggest takeaway from my time at the Collegian is that attitude, effort and commitment will always lead you on the path to success.

Andrew Cyr was the Collegian sports editor. He can be reached at [email protected].

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    Tony Gaffney Sr.May 2, 2017 at 5:47 am

    Congratulations, Andrew, and thank you for keeping us connected through your enthusiastic writing. Enthusiasm is central to what makes sports integral to our days, and your articles have made it enjoyable to stay connected to our players, teams and university. Here’s to looking forward to others benefitting by your presentation as you continue to do what most of us can only dream of- getting into countless sporting events for free!