Position(s): 2021 Senior Sports Editor, 2020 Assistant Sports Editor
Semesters at The Daily: 7
Walk through the doors of the newsroom. Take 15 steps forward, then five to the left.
Look down, and you’ll come across a blue commemorative tile, like many others dotting the floor, that reads “Bill Stieg, Sports Editor, 1977.”
If you’ve ever written for The Daily, it’s likely that you’ve walked over that tile at some point — probably at an odd hour of the night — without much thought. Rightfully so.
But whenever I walk into the newsroom, that one particular tile always catches my attention. It’s special to me, because it belongs to my Uncle Bill.
Now, Uncle Bill is your run-of-the-mill Michigan sports superfan alum: expressive of his dedication to and passion for the Wolverines, through the highs and the lows.
He giddily runs to the piano after every Michigan football touchdown to play a peppy rendition of “Hail to the Victors.” Conversely, when the Wolverines suffered a soul-crushing loss to Appalachian State in 2007, I distinctly remember him being absent from that weekend’s installment of our recurrent family dinners. When asked of his absence, his wife — my Aunt Jen — sardonically replied, “He’s mourning.”
In sum, it’s obvious why Uncle Bill spent nearly every waking hour of his college years at 420 Maynard, serving as a men’s basketball and football beat writer, as well as MSE. He loved Michigan sports, he loved writing and he wanted to share both with the world.
My family lineage is saturated with surgeons, nurses and veterinarians. I, on the other hand, have shaky hands that make pouring a pitcher of water difficult — let alone holding a scalpel — so it quickly became evident that medicine was not for me. Instead, I was always keen on subjects like writing and history, basically anything without math or hard science.
It is for this reason that, once high school began, I gravitated toward my Uncle Bill and Aunt Jen — who was also a journalist — so they could groom me to join their ranks as the de facto “writers of the family.” Wanting to emulate their career trajectories, I got heavily involved in my town’s newspaper and took campus tours of colleges with top journalism programs.
While my particular interest in journalism waned as I became more in touch with climate issues during my senior year of high school, I knew that — like Uncle Bill — I loved writing, and I still wanted to find a way to demonstrate that.
As a result, when I ultimately committed to Michigan to study energy and environmental policy, I agreed to Uncle Bill’s wish that I “give The Daily a chance” when I arrived in Ann Arbor.
I followed through on my promise to Uncle Bill, working for The Daily’s Sports section all four years of college, but I’d say that my experience has been quite different from his.
As a freshman at Michigan, I started writing for The Daily and attending meetings right away. In October, I covered my first Michigan sporting event alongside a girl named Lily — who I discovered, soon after, was the niece of one of my mom’s best friends from college. Four years later, thanks to The Daily, our friendship has evolved into one of a similar nature.
In spite of my early enthusiasm for The Daily, up until the midpoint of my sophomore year, my involvement was, overall, pretty cyclical. While I wanted to be a part of The Daily, unlike Uncle Bill, I never wanted it to shroud my entire college ethos.
So, instead of joining a beat like the firm majority of my Daily friends, I allocated time to other extracurricular activities that interested me — the Michigan club lacrosse team and a clean energy-focused student organization, specifically. And since I did not then hold a binding position at The Daily, such as a beat or an editor role, my enjoyment of these extracurriculars sometimes kept me out of the newsroom for weeks.
I always found myself coming back to The Daily, though. I felt at home in the lighthearted — yet incredibly productive — machine that was the newsroom, very much so enjoying the nights where I could put off schoolwork to write a story, play rounds of euchre or simply engage in witty banter with friends. It was just a fun place to be.
Because of this, I stuck around at The Daily, and although I wasn’t as involved as others, I found a way to create my own “Daily experience.” I served as an assistant sports editor for one semester and senior sports editor for two. I covered every possible men’s lacrosse game I could, creating my own “quasi-beat” that culminated in several features, road trips to California and State College, Penn., and a 9,000-word, three-part series detailing the history of the program.
As my time in college draws to a close, and I begin to reflect, I can honestly say that I have no regrets. I surrounded myself with people who made me happy, studied things that piqued my intellectual curiosity and balanced my free time across several different extracurriculars that I was passionate about.
For some parting words of wisdom to younger or prospective staff members, I will say one thing: The Daily is a special place. The people you’ll become close with are one of a kind, and you’ll never find a job like it anywhere else in the entire world. For that reason, it doesn’t need to take over your entire life, but I would strongly suggest that you find a way to get involved at The Daily.
I promise, you won’t regret it.