Courtesy of Daniel Dash.

Position(s): Senior Sports Editor, Football Beat Writer, Men’s Basketball Beat Writer, Softball Beat Writer

Section(s): Sports

Semesters at The Daily: 7

I’m going to be honest. I put this off for as long as possible.

In the past, I’ve never read senior goodbyes with dry eyes. I knew the day would come when I’d have to write my own. From wondering what to write to ignoring the inevitable altogether, I’ve dreaded this moment. But here I am, ready to pen a farewell to 420 Maynard St. — an address that always provided a home for me over the past four years.

Most of the time, that home wasn’t physical. It was more sentimental than anything. It was about the people I met, the memories I made and the moments I shared with others.

I’ve never been one for goodbyes. I’m often the one who tries to slip out of the room toward the end of an event without formally bidding adieu. The one who downplays endings. No goodbye hugs or handshakes — just a “see you later” or “until next time.” I often reject change. I get comfortable in situations I like and resist the thought of anything different. 

But this time, there is no next time. At least nothing like what I’ve experienced over the past four years, both in the newsroom and over Zoom. The Daily is a community like no other. It’s a collection of people and places I’ve come to love, and I don’t take that word lightly.

As I watched from the press box while 111,000 fans rushed the Big House field following the Michigan football team’s win over Ohio State, I was consumed by a sense of gratitude. I’ve had unique angles into some defining moments over the last few years.

I was courtside when the men’s basketball team got rushed off the floor in Indianapolis as COVID-19 upended the world in March 2020. I wrote the game story from Bloomington when the Wolverines toppled Minnesota in the Big Ten Softball Tournament in 2019. I covered a top-five basketball clash in Louisville on a Tuesday night, drove back through the night and went to my 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday. I hit publish on a flash gamer when the football team broke its 17-year conference title drought. Now, I’ll be covering the College Football Playoff in three short weeks.

But my experience at The Daily didn’t start in a press box. Instead, it started in my Mary Markley Residence Hall room.

I wanted to find ways to get more involved on campus. I knew I loved sports and writing, so I sent the world’s most awkward email to then-Managing Sports Editors Mike Persak and Laney Byler. I touted my experience covering high school sports, flaunted my own accomplishments on the basketball and volleyball courts and even mentioned my 6-foot-8 height.

None of it mattered. But I did grow an inch in college, which I think is pretty cool.

The best part of The Daily’s Sports section is that everyone starts from square one. It’s been said in a million previous senior goodbyes, but that’s only because it’s true: The Daily is what you make of it. 

Covering sports at a Big Ten institution with storied athletic history and 27 varsity teams contributed to my experience, but playing euchre in the newsroom until 5 a.m., plunging into the half-frozen Huron River and surprising the freshmen at Denny’s every fall is what shaped it.

A few decades from now, I won’t remember most of the games I covered and most of the stories I wrote. What I will remember, however, is the people and places that made the last four years an unforgettable experience.

That started with the softball beat in the spring of 2019. Lily Friedman, Lane Kizziah, Akul Vijayvargiya and everything about that season drew me into The Daily. Traveling to Bloomington for the Big Ten Tournament was unforgettable for so many reasons beyond the field. Covering Carol Hutchins was seldom an easy task, but together, we discovered what it meant to fully commit to something at The Daily. The three of you are some of my closest Daily friends, and that season planted a seed that ultimately sprouted into our passion for The Daily.

To Lane, Kent Schwartz and all the senior sports editors, I’m so glad we had the chance to help lead the section back into the newsroom this fall after 18 months on Zoom. Some people think our class was robbed. Going into this fall, we had three in-person semesters and three virtual semesters. But really, the virtual nature of The Daily gave us a chance to step up as leaders when the section needed us most while growing even closer with one another. I’m proud of everything we’ve done, especially our success embarrassing the State News in touch football, and the close bond we’ve developed in the process.

We would’ve been clueless without those who came before us, though. A massive thank you goes out to former MSEs like Mike, Laney, Max Marcovitch, Ethan Sears and Theo Mackie for welcoming us into the section with open arms. I can say the same about Connor Brennan, Jacob Kopnick, Aria Gerson and Akul Vijayvargiya, who showed me the same things as older writers on my beats. Or people like Shira Zisholtz, Avi Sholkoff, Tien Le, Teddy Gutkin and everyone else who made coming to the newsroom fun. There wasn’t a single Sunday meeting, weeknight production or round of edits when I didn’t feel like I was part of a tight-knit community.

As I got older, I tried to welcome younger writers into the section the same way I was. It’s so much bigger than the sports we cover or the stories we write. In my opinion, that’s the power of not having a journalism school on campus. We cover sports because we want to cover sports, not because we’re power-hungry, cut-throat student journalists fending only for ourselves while vying for editor jobs and big-time beats.

Most of our writers don’t end up pursuing a journalism profession, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Again, the mantra rings true — The Daily is what you make of it.

Four years went by too fast, but the memories and friendships I’ve made will last a whole lot longer.