The magic of this place

It’s a lovable loser


Philip Sanzo

By Philip Sanzo, Sports Editor

It doesn’t look like much on the surface. Hell, it’s not even on the surface; it’s in the basement. The windowless Massachusetts Daily Collegian office will trick your mind into forgetting what time of day it is, the dust will stick to your fingers after you touch any surface and as you’re waiting 30 minutes to open Adobe InDesign on one of the desktops, a friendly mouse or cockroach might say hello.

You wanna work at the Collegian yet?

Well, you should.

Because beyond the windowless walls, dusty surfaces and friendly mice and roaches is an eternal magic.

If you stay at this place long enough, you can leave a mark that, in one way or another, can stand the test of time.

Steve Buckley (class of 1978) can show you where he used to sit in the late 70s. Matt Vautour (class of 1996) can stand on the same desk and Mark Chiarelli (class of 2016) and Steve Hewitt (class of 2014) can point to things they hung on the walls and put in the drawers.

Despite getting older, the office will never lose its charm; it really is a loveable loser.

As I sit at the metal desk with the fake wood surface, the sports computer directly in front of me, I can look around and see the faces of those who turned this office into a newsroom.

I can see where, during a tense Board of Editors meeting, Editor in Chief Devyn Giannetti, Managing Editor Hayley Johnson and Business Manager John McDonald discussed with the staff the future of the Collegian’s print production.

I can see where Ryan Ames became the office’s undisputed Nerf basketball champion. Seventeen made shots in a minute is essentially inhuman.

And I can see where I first encountered the dingy office nearly four years ago.

As I turned the corner and peered into the business room, only two days into my college career, I was met by a bunch of eyes. I assume all of them were wondering who I was. Luckily, Pat Hoff said hello, introduced me to Mark and the rest is history.

My freshman year, I was shown the ropes by Mark, the then-sports editor, and assistants Andrew Cyr, Tony Chiusano and Ross Gienieczko. It was a true powerhouse — Cyr and Tony went on to become sports editors themselves, and all of them are thriving in the business during post-Collegian life.

In one way or another, they all played a role in shaping who I am as a journalist.

That’s really the beauty of this place. To me, it’s not about the individual accomplishments. Sure, those look nice on a résumé and you can talk about them in job interviews, but the real beauty of the Collegian is how it grows.

Anyone can make their way down to the Campus Center basement, open the old wooden door, walk past a line of desks and computers into a newsroom that has definitely seen better days and walk away feeling like they learned something.

My biggest accomplishment down here isn’t being sports editor, it’s not writing over 170 stories and it’s not covering football or men’s basketball.

No, my biggest accomplishment is having played even the tiniest role in helping someone become a better journalist.

That’s what separates this newsroom from the others I’ll work at in the future: This place ignited brilliant careers. It taught us how to be journalists and while generations of students come and go, the office will always be there.

I refused to write a single word of this column outside of the newsroom, because it’s in this newsroom that the memories live. It’s where a career that I have always wanted to pursue started. It’s where I failed, failed and failed again and once in a while got lucky and did something right.

It’s where I became a journalist, and it’s the people who helped me get there that make it special.

That’s the magic of this place.

Philip Sanzo was the Collegian Sports Editor. He can be reached at [email protected]