Massachusetts Daily Collegian

One last ‘thank you’

Thanking the Collegian for the memories

By Zander Manning, Collegian Staff

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When I first came to the University of Massachusetts, it was my dream to broadcast baseball games after school. Two hockey broadcasts and one semester later, the two sports directors at WMUA said they didn’t want me to come back for some reasons that, frankly, I forget.

At first, I was crushed, but eventually I realized it was the best thing for me. In the spring, I did a feature on Brandon Montour for a sports TV show and the next fall I joined the Massachusetts Daily Collegian.

I knew from day one that the Collegian would have a special place in my heart.

As I sit here in the library writing my senior column, I’m filled with bittersweet feelings. Part of me is ready to graduate; the other part of me is filled with sadness that I have to leave a place that is so close to my heart.

When I first joined the Collegian, my first official beat was softball. I wanted baseball, but I took what they gave me.

Through covering the team, I developed my first personal relationship with a coach and their players. It brought me joy going to Sortino Field every Saturday and seeing the look on coach Kristi Stefanoni’s face knowing she was talking to me after the game.

My all-time favorite memory was sitting in the press box at the Mullins Center covering the UMass hockey team’s exhibition game vs. Queen’s University. I was working with Ryan Ames to come up with a storyline.

We both had established that a game story was redundant and we should both do side stories. I eventually did mine on Cale Makar and Mario Ferraro making their debuts on the Mullins Center ice in front of fans.

I interviewed both of them after the game and that was one of the coolest moments for me: talking to two top college hockey prospects at the beginning of their careers. Earlier in my college experience, I did talk some hockey with Frank Vatrano. That was cool too, but I was too young to realize what Frankie could do.

I’ve talked to four future NHL prospects in my time here and each conversation is one I’ll never forget.

Another one of my favorite memories as a writer for the Collegian was my road trip to Albany, New York during my senior year. Tom Haines, Mollie Walker and I all got in the car and drove almost two hours to cover a baseball game in the Empire State’s capital.

We left at around 12:30 p.m. and got there around 2:15 p.m. When we got there, I was forced to find another parking spot. I drove around what was a maze of a campus at UAlbany just so I wouldn’t get towed or ticketed.

We sat out in the cold, watching UMass baseball search for its eighth win of the year. Thankfully, the Minutemen won and it made the trip worth it. As soon as the game was over, we got our interviews done as soon as possible and attempted to go to the Moe’s across the street, which we found was closed.

We drove further down the street and found a McDonald’s. Mollie and I transcribed our interviews as fast as we could, wrote our stories even faster and, an hour and a half later at 9 p.m., we were on our way home. We got back to campus at almost 11 p.m., but it was worth it.

What stuck with me about this trip was that as soon we finished interviewing the coach and the two players we thought fit our stories the best (Cooper Mrowka and Nolan Kessinger), all three thanked us for making the trip out.

This was a first for all three of us and we all were touched by the gratitude.

I want to say thank you to everyone who helped my journey get to this point, whether you’re a friend, an editor or someone who just was passing through, you have all meant a lot to me.

I was never an editor, but the Collegian will always hold a special place in my heart and there’s nothing I would change about my experiences.

As I sit here in the library, finalizing the last thing I’ll write for the Collegian, I hit “send” and finish on the highest note I could have imagined.

For the last time, thank you, UMass!

Zander Manning in the future can be reached at [email protected], but still followed on Twitter @ZMSportsReport.

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