By Shawn McFarland
It was New Student Orientation in 2014. We were in the Fieldhouse, all sitting around in a circle. I had the stupid beanie on. It was roughly 102 degrees. I was miserable.
We were doing some exercise where we had to go around in a circle and say what we wanted our “legacy” to be at Springfield College. Good god, I didn’t even think this school was going to accept me and now I have to have a legacy? Four months ago I had to ask to go to the bathroom and now I have to have a legacy?
So the circle is moving around pretty fast. Athletes say they want to win a national championship. Kind hearted people say they want to make the world a better place. It’s my turn. I’m sweating. I have no prospects, no skills. I’m just some cynical, lumpy kid from the South Shore. I don’t know what to say – I just want these people to like me oh my god. I blurt it out:
“I want to be the best journalist to ever come from Springfield College.”
The circle keeps moving. No one bats an eye. I’m about to pass out. You idiot, you’re not even in the journalism major. You can’t write. Pack your stuff up and go back home.
It’s been four years. I still don’t know what the hell a legacy is supposed to be.
I’m a little less lumpy now, still cynical, still have very few skills and I still sweat when I have to say things in a circle. But, I think I’m finally ready to take a calculated look at this legacy nonsense I was told to dream up.
I certainly don’t think I’m the best journalist to leave this school. Guys, I don’t even think I’m the best journalist at this newspaper right now. Not even top-three, honestly. I’m like a 12th man on a NBA team that wins the Finals. I’m just happy to be here.
But anyways, it’s story time, again. I used to be a Boy Scout. Yeah, the student newspaper editor used to be a Boy Scout. I know I’m a nerd, you don’t have to remind me. When we’d clean up a campsite, the rule was to leave it in a better condition than how we found it.
The Springfield Student was my campsite.
This paper was incredible when I first arrived. The editors were talented and ambitious, many of whom have gone on to pursue full-time jobs in the field. I’ll never be able to thank them enough for the lessons I learned, and the incredible medium they left for myself and others to read and write for.
But I wanted to make it better.
I’d like to think it is better. The sports section has a daily presence on campus. The news section isn’t afraid to tackle real stories. The photos are sharper than ever, and the design is daring and fun.
I’m not taking credit for that. I’m going to thank everyone else for that. I want to thank former editors Pat Kenney, Marshall Hastings and Logan Mullen for teaching me how to lead a newspaper. Whether you guys knew it or not, I was watching and taking mental notes.
I want to thank Brian Magoffin and Jon Santer in sports communications for putting up with constant emails, interview requests and the occasional upset coach. I speak for everyone at the paper when I say you make our lives easy.
I want to thank Student Activities for the allocated money to print the paper, and to send us to our yearly journalism conventions. It’s never easy being a school-funded newspaper, but you all have made it a pleasure.
I want to thank Vin Gallo for teaching me how to write a story. You know, interviews, follow up interviews, and then more interviews. And most importantly, how to throw a word count to the wind. I was supposed to be the one teaching him, but I’m pretty sure I learned more from him than he did for me.
I want to thank Gage Nutter for teaching me how to be a reporter. I got more texts from him every day with innovations and new ideas on how he could improve his coverage of men’s soccer, basketball and lacrosse. He took the sports section to a level I only ever dreamed it could be at.
I want to thank Jill Campbell, who was always there as my managing editor, for always being creative and helping me express my creative side on the page. She also kept me sane on many Wednesday nights in which I wanted to put my fist through a computer monitor. Thanks for being a bomb partner, and a bomb friend. If you’re a newspaper or magazine, move Vin, Gage and Jill to the top of your draft boards for next year.
I want to thank Greg Allen, who I was lucky enough to spend a year as Co-Editor-in-Chief with (but ask anybody, he was the real Editor-in-Chief.) Whether he knew it or not, he kept me competitive for three years. He was EXHAUSTINGLY good, and I was just trying to be half as good as him. More importantly, thanks for not being a rat, and being my friend instead.
Finally, I’m thanking my advisor Marty Dobrow, for everything. For taking me into your office and putting me in the major faster than you can say Larry Hasenfus. For writing “you can do better” on papers I handed in for class that I knew weren’t my best. For always being supportive, but always lighting a fire under me. None of this would happen without you.
So, as my fire begins to burn out at this campsite, I’m going to look at this legacy stuff. Maybe I fell short of being the greatest journalist ever. Let’s face it, it was a lofty goal to begin with. But I found a way cooler legacy, anyways: The Springfield Student. I’ll be able to peacefully rest in whatever campsite comes next knowing that the people that made this one so special have left a lasting impact on it. I hope I have too.