By Danny Priest
In the past four years, I’ve read a number of these goodbye columns.
I always appreciated them and enjoyed reading them because I was fortunate enough to be close with the people who wrote them. Unfortunately, I was never prepared to write my own.
It never felt like the day would come, especially with the presence of COVID over this past year.
But, it’s here now. And as I reflect and look back, The Springfield Student gave me so much during my time here at Springfield College.
It brought me to places I never even thought were possible. Early on in sophomore year, the paper helped get me to enshrinement at the Basketball Hall of Fame. I stood five-feet from Ray Allen while he reflected on his time in Boston, I looked like a toddler interviewing Dino Radja one-on-one and I got to write a story tying several of the Hall of Famers back to Boston.
At the time, I thought that might be the coolest thing I got to do, but I was mistaken. By junior year we had the incredible stretch of Hoophall, a staff trip to San Francisco for a national journalism convention and then covering rounds one and two of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on our own campus.
All of these moments were amazing. At Hoophall, we rubbed shoulders with some players who are going to be NBA greats. Remember this column when Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley get selected first and second overall in this year’s NBA draft because we covered them there.
In San Francisco, we made so many memories, but also learned so many ways to improve upon our own newspaper product and website. Then coming back home to the electric atmosphere inside Blake Arena was just incredible.
All of these memories are amazing and I will remember them forever. That’s without even mentioning other opportunities The Student gave me such as covering minor league baseball, the DIII men’s soccer tournament and much, much more.
All of that is great, but it’s the people along the way who helped make my experience with the paper special. That all begins with Marty, our advisor, and a person we are just lucky to have around.
Marty immersed me in the paper from day one, he has guided me and given me opportunities and in general, he really is irreplaceable to this program. We already gave him his special tribute in our final paper, but I needed to say thank you again here.
Right there with Marty is the rest of the COSJ faculty. Kyle, Laura and Ray help all of as students tremendously and they too all deserve a big thank you. I haven’t been in the Weiser basement in quite some time due to COVID — but I know that spot will always be a second home.
As for the students, I’ve been lucky. Vin Gallo, Gage Nutter and Shawn McFarland all showed me the ropes early on. Shawn was the symbol of what it met to thrive in COSJ and even though we only crossed for a year, I learned so much in every conversation with him.
Vin and Gage are like my master editors. Vin worked with me on just about every feature I wrote and I was better for it. His skill and care for what we published was next level — I appreciate him for that and all the laughs he gave us in the office too.
Gage was someone who could edit, teach layout and also explain the choices we made in putting together the paper each week all in stride. His impact on me and the paper still holds up to this day.
By my junior year, I’d get to know Gabby Guerard and Evan Wheaton really well and it was our best year of school. Evan was like Vin 2.0 — makes sense they now work together — but for real, if I needed editing on my writing, he was the guy.
I’ll never know how he managed his academic schedule (it was a nightmare, trust me), with his commitment to the paper and an internship. It always blew my mind when he would finish a piece of writing for the paper and it would be perfect.
But that was Evan and he did it all with one bum knee and I’m slightly convinced he still has a mild concussion, too. If you’re wondering about that, email Evan and ask him about the Lime Scooter incident. It’s worth it.
As for Gabby, like Shawn, she showed just how high you can go through COSJ. Her resume is amazing and continues to grow, her commitment to the paper was something I always hoped to emulate and the amount she cared about us as a team really met a lot.
Junior year was really trying on the paper and having her as a leader made all of our lives easier. Gab is the only person I know who rushed back from an internship, got past a police barricade and into the president’s living room and then published a breaking news story all in the span of about an hour while never breaking stride.
Pretty incredible, but that’s just her. Between that level of commitment and the amount of knowledge she’s taught and continues to teach me, I can’t say thanks enough.
That brings us to the present — senior year. It’s been a unique one, but having Jack Margaros, Joe Arruda and Irene Rotondo by my side has made the year infinitely easier.
Irene has risen to one of the toughest jobs I’ve seen the past four years. I was the paper’s news editor for two years and it’s hard. It’s tough to fill news pages on a campus dominated by sports and connecting to people’s interests is even tougher.
Irene has done that and more. She’s filled anywhere from 10 to 16 pages each week, while also grooming the new staff and getting ready to step into a bigger leadership role. I commend her on the job she has done while also cranking out article(s) nearly every week.
She loves to write long (like really, really long) but the writing is always incredible and I can’t wait to see what she continues to do in her final year and beyond.
As for Joe, our little running joke within the paper is that he’s the polar opposite of Irene. Trust me, they’re going to work together just fine next year. At the beginning of my junior year, I don’t think anyone at the paper knew how much trouble we were in for when Gabby encouraged Joe to talk more.
In an instant, he’d gone from a quiet first-year with major skills, to a loud mouth sophomore with major skills. Jokes aside, Joe’s talent is undeniable and we need that personality in the room.
Much like Irene, I can’t wait to see where his path goes in the future. I know it’s bright and the paper will achieve some amazing things with him at the forefront next year alongside his polar opposite in Irene.
Last, but certainly not least, my man Jack. I’ve never asked Jack or anyone else if they thought Co-EIC’s would work well, but it certainly has. We literally never argued one time. Not over content, decisions or anything else — I couldn’t tell you if that’s a personality thing or what, but I appreciate Jack’s level headedness and decision making when it comes to the paper.
On top of that dynamic, his skills are second to none. Writing, graphic design, photography and practically anything else we needed at the paper, he can do. I don’t know where we’d be without that and I’m fortunate we landed in the same class and got to share this ride together.
In total, a typical four-year college run includes 120 Wednesday’s. Of course, we had a few semesters cut short so our number is a bit lower, but I probably spent a minimum of 75 Wednesday’s hiding out in the basement underneath Abby-Appleton Hall.
A number of my friends don’t even know that spot exists, but it’s my favorite on campus. Beyond laying out the paper on those days, it’s where all these laughs, memories and relationships live. So, thank you to The Springfield Student for this ride and for everything you’ve given me.
Any concerns with this column or anything else related to the paper, please bother my Co-EIC Jack. He’ll be happy to help.
Thanks for all the memories and support — here’s to hoping our bylines all continue to cross in the future.
Photo Courtesy The Springfield Student