I’ll never be bashful about being from the Collegian

Four years at the Collegian that I’m extremely proud of

Collegian+File+Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Evan Marinofsky, Assistant Sports Editor

Well, the time has come.

I have a lot of thoughts on the past four years. Hopefully I’m able to properly articulate them in the next 800 words or so. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. I’ll let you be the judge of that.

First things first, listening to Jackson Cote, a fellow Framingham guy, and making the trek down those campus center basement steps and into the underbelly of the school for the first all-staff meeting of the 2017-18 school year was the best decision I made during my four years. That was my first big decision I made in college and it set the tone for the rest of my time at UMass.

To me, the Collegian had three levels to it, and they all meant a lot to me.

At surface level, the Collegian gave me experience. Through these past four years, I was on six different beats – club hockey, softball, women’s soccer, women’s basketball, baseball and hockey. All six offered up experiences such as covering games, writing features and dealing with sports information directors. Anyone who’s spent a second in journalism knows how important that is early on in a career, especially for confidence. Add in being an assistant sports editor and I found myself in a leadership role. That was extremely important for my development.

Class was great, but the Collegian was always a step above it. It’d be impossible for even the best class to matchup with the consistency of the Collegian.

The second level was the people I got to work with at the Collegian. It would’ve been impossible for me to walk into that dusty office in the basement of the campus center and not be influenced by the talent down there. From the sports editors I had – Phil Sanzo, Amin Touri, Tom Haines and Noah Bortle – to the fellow assistants, to the rest of the sports staff and the rest of the Collegian staff, there’s a lot of great minds at work and to work alongside those people was an honor. Kyle DaLuz was another one, and I mention him because I know he’ll read this and think “Hey, why wasn’t I mentioned?” Kyle helped me a ton early on, especially when it came to advice on my jobs with WEEI. I’ll probably never be able to repay him for that.

Then came the coaches, players and SIDs I got to work with during my time. From Mike DeFazio to Kristi Stefanoni to Tory Verdi, every coach I covered showed the Collegian the utmost respect. There was a lot to learn in those postgame chats.

Also, something fun to note: every beat I was on, Noah was on too. We became really great friends, and no one is better at sitting and listening to my jokes and bad predictions while covering a game than him.

But the best part of this second level was, by far, covering the hockey team.

Getting to cover the hockey team for the Collegian is a big freaking deal, and it especially was after that 2019 Frozen Four appearance. Yes, Cale Makar and Mario Ferraro had left the team, but the third and fourth-biggest losses to the UMass hockey world were Collegian hockey beat writers Ryan Ames and Mollie Walker. It was up to Noah and me to fill those shoes and those were giant shoes to fill.

The only returning writer for the 2019-20 season was Liam Flaherty, and he completely took us under his wing. Not only was he amazing at giving us tips on stories, how to talk to certain players and what not to ask Greg Carvel – “Please never ask who the starting goalie will be,” was first on that list – but Liam was also the only one of us who had a car. That meant he was always the one driving for road trips, and those car rides were the best.

That made things all the worse when this past season, we couldn’t be in-person for games at Mullins Center or head to other Hockey East arenas for away games. Car rides with Noah and Colin McCarthy, who did a wonderful job of replacing Liam this past year, would’ve been a blast.

UMass hockey also had some incredible people. Jill Jakuba, the team’s SID, is the best. Plain and simple. I’ll miss working with her all winter. Covering Carvel was a tremendous experience. He treated us with the utmost respect and demanded excellence from us. Just like he’d let you know when you asked a bad question – that stare with the poker face was always the dead giveaway – he’d also let you know when you asked a good one. His two assistants Jared DeMichiel and Ben Barr always made themselves available as well.

Covering that team was a class in and of itself.

So those were the first two levels, and they’re sort of obvious. Of course, you gain a plethora of experience and of course, you’re going to meet some incredible people along the way. The Collegian certainly had that in droves.

But the third level is much deeper.

I vividly remember the feeling I got after that first, all-staff meeting freshman year. That rich, storied tradition the Collegian carries was something that never left me. The paper has been going since 1890.

EIGHTEEN NINETY.

That’s a lot of history to hold up. But I always wanted to be a part of it and at the very least, leave things better than I found them. This sounds corny, but as an assistant sports editor, if I improved one person’s writing or reporting skills and improved their career track in any way, I can confidently say I did my job, and I’m satisfied with that.

I’m also happy to say that I would put the work done by the sports section of the Collegian up against any sports section from any school newspaper around the country. Yeah, UMass doesn’t have the clout of Syracuse, Missouri and Boston University.

Good. Give us a chip on our shoulder. I’ll take that any day.

You’re seeing that increasingly play out in the media world. More and more Collegian alums are doing incredible work in the field. I’d list them, but there’s too many to name and I’d certainly forget good ones. It’s a huge motivator for me to want to continue that and proudly be able to wear that Collegian badge wherever I end up.

It reminds me of something.

In 2012, former UMass football star turned New York Giants Super Bowl champ Victor Cruz spoke to the Mullins Center crowd at halftime of a UMass-Xavier men’s basketball game.

“Wherever I go, I’ll never be bashful about being from UMass, baby,” Cruz proudly stated to cheers.

I can confidently say that wherever I go, not only will I never be bashful about being from UMass, but I certainly will never be bashful about being from the Collegian.

And that’s something I’m extremely proud of.

Evan Marinofsky can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @emarinofsky.