All goodbyes are hard, but this is the hardest

I’ll be forever grateful for the Collegian

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Parker Peters / Daily Collegian

By Noah Bortle, Sports Editor

It’s really tempting to use this column as a way to reflect on what I did — and didn’t — accomplish at the Daily Collegian in my four years here.

It’s easy to thank the Collegian for letting me cover a national championship run. It’s easy to reminisce at how far I’ve come as a writer. It’s even easy to measure myself against Phil Sanzo, Amin Touri and Tom Haines, the sports editors who came before me and whom I do my best to emulate.

However, if I used this piece for that, it would be a disservice to what the Collegian has truly given me. Sure, I could write thousands of words about the work that I put into the paper, but that isn’t doing justice to such a special place.

I don’t know when I realized just how special the Collegian was. For me, it definitely wasn’t on my first trip down the campus center stairs to sit on the dirty old couch in that windowless room. In fact, I hated making those treks. I’m a shy person, and the thought of walking across campus for a meeting that I would almost certainly have to speak at was straight out of my nightmares.

But slowly the Collegian began to show me what it has shown so many people over the years. It allowed me to grow.

Early in my sophomore year I wasn’t sure about the paper. I’d put in a good deal of time, but had hardly thrown myself into the work. I looked forward to writing stories on the women’s soccer team as an excuse to hang out with Evan Marinofsky, Dan McGee or Ethan Nash, but I felt like I didn’t belong. My anxiety told me the editors viewed my stories as wastes of time, something for them to slog through and which they were only publishing out of obligation.

Now, I see how ridiculous that is. Did my stories stink? I certainly thought so. But I learned that wasn’t the case after a sports meeting one fall evening. Touri, the sports editor at the time, asked Evan, Dan and me to stay after. My heart sunk. I didn’t know what he was going to say, but I knew it wasn’t good.

Then, to my surprise, he started with, “thank you.” The rest of the conversation centered around how I hadn’t been put on my preferred beat for the winter — hockey — but that didn’t mean my hard work and dedication hadn’t been noticed. I called my mom to tell her. I was elated. I felt validated.

Slowly but surely, the Collegian brought more and more people into my life. Now they are making the goodbye so much harder.

When I joined the hockey beat my junior year, I left my first media scrum to a jab from Jill Jakuba, hockey’s SID, joking about my choice to ask Greg Carvel a question about the starting goaltender spot. A few weeks ago, a year and a half after that first interaction, Jill and I said a tearful “see you later” in Pittsburgh.

While covering my first softball game with Evan Marinofsky, we talked endlessly about baseball. Four years later we were forced to text each other our dumb jokes while covering the national championship.

Freshman year I sat next to Chris McLaughlin in a journalism class. As our senior years came to a close, we went on a hike, reflecting on where our lives were going to go.

I met Cassie McGrath working on a project together sophomore year. Now, as we embark on the next chapter of our lives, I can’t imagine going a day or two without seeing her.

There are countless others who I’m going to have to say goodbye to. I could never sum up everything everyone at the Collegian has meant to me and even if I tried, I could never do it justice.

Moving on from college and taking the next step in life is hard, but nothing is going to be harder than this.

Goodbye to the Massachusetts Daily Collegian. I’m forever indebted to everything and everyone you gave me.

Noah Bortle can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @noah_bortle.