By Jack Margaros
I’ve been putting off this column for a while.
I really don’t want to write it.
For the last four years, I’ve read farewell columns from some of my best friends that have graduated ahead of me. After every one, I envisioned how mine would be.
Now that the time is here, I don’t even want to do it. For real, I’m dreading this.
Because writing something like this is an indicator that my time at The Springfield Student has come to an end, and the college experience itself is not far behind. I don’t want college to end, and I certainly don’t want to think of myself as an alumnus to The Student. In a way, my time with The Student has been a microcosm of my four years at Springfield.
Truth is, I wish I could go back to my freshman year and do all of this over again.
I remember my first ever journalism class, taught by our advisor, Marty Dobrow. I sat next to my future co-editor-in-chief, Danny Priest. For me, a wildly awkward and socially anxious 18-year-old, it took me over a month to say two sentences to Danny, much less anyone else in the class.
If I could have looked into the future, and understood the impact that Danny would have on my trajectory as a journalist, I would have spoken to him a lot sooner.
I quickly learned that journalism would force me to become more outgoing — becoming most evident when I first got involved with the newspaper freshman year. I wasn’t complaining about that, but that’s not to say the process wasn’t painful.
I covered my first game as an assignment for Marty’s sports writing class. Alongside Vin Gallo, who was covering the team for The Student at the time, I stumbled over words, so focused on the next question that I wasn’t even listening to what head coach Steffan Seibert was saying after the game.
It was a wreck, to put it nicely. Then I came across Shawn McFarland, my first “boss” in the realm of journalism. Marty suggested that I come to the office one night after class. I was really nervous on the outside. I knew Shawn was working for The Boston Globe at the time. That was intimidating in itself. Although I was immediately welcomed to the team. The energy from Shawn, Gage Nutter, Vin, Gabby Guerard, Sam Leventhal and the rest of the editors was contagious. It got me hooked.
I quickly became aware that this would be a core group of people that I would lean on for the next four years, even if I didn’t show it on the outside at the time.
Freshman year, I was thrown into the water, covering field hockey, wrestling and baseball. It was so fun. I was still a really awkward kid, though, and learning the ropes. Sophomore year started off with a bang: covering a Hall of Fame Enshrinement, coming within inches of Ray Allen and Steve Nash. I’m more of a baseball guy, but that was probably the coolest thing I had ever done. I thought I had hit my peak journalism experience.
I was wildly misinformed.
The trip to San Diego later that year is where I really broke out of my shell — my first Associated Collegiate Press journalism conference. I got really close with Gage, Vin, Gabby and Sam. Also, the seeds of our transformation from a print-first to digital-first publication were planted during this conference. It was a transformative experience for myself, and The Student.
For me, Sam was crucial. He opened my eyes to the methods of storytelling outside of writing. He taught me about photography, videography, graphic design and even a little bit of podcasting. I cannot thank him enough for opening those doors. He unlocked aspects of storytelling that I didn’t think I was capable of.
Gage and Vin, on the other hand, made sure I kept my writing skills sharp. Both of them are incredible storytellers. Gage showed me the ropes of being a sports editor, while Vin really mentored me through my first Pride Sports Journal story. We also shared an office at MassLive together as interns. Our experience, especially when we covered a state championship at Gillette Stadium, is something I will always cherish. Thank you both, for everything you’ve done to help me.
My next two years at The Student brought me some of my most fulfilling life experiences, and allowed me to become really close with some of the greatest people I’ve ever met, the type of people you hold on to for the rest of your life.
It’s safe to say that our editorial staff — Gabby, Danny, Joe Arruda, Irene Rotondo and myself — went through it all my junior year. We went from covering tragedy and controversy to Hoophall and the beginning stages of the coronavirus.
Gabby’s leadership during that time period was awe-inspiring. She’s so dedicated to things she cares about, and that is more than evident with how she handled The Student. Even in the spring, when she landed a big-time internship with NESN, her commitment to the newspaper never faltered. She taught me the value of staying persistent and never giving up on a story that deserves to be told. Outside of journalism, she’s been a constant presence of support and helped me through life situations. Thank you, Chief, for everything you’ve done and will continue to do in the future.
Evan is that person that always knows the right thing to say. He’s a real funny guy, but has the biggest heart. What’s most inspiring about him is his journey at Springfield College. I lived a floor down from him in Alumni Hall one year, and was exposed to what an outstanding human being he is. He transferred into Springfield not having written an article in his life, and exited as one of the most talented writers on campus. The level of empathy he shows toward others, and his ability to open anyone up is something that I can only hope to emulate in life. He always finds a way to get the job done, and that’s very commendable. Thank you, Evan.
Joe’s like a little brother. He’s always trolling, to the point where I can’t tell if he’s serious when he compliments me. He wasn’t like this when I met him, though. He was really quiet, kinda like me. It wasn’t until Gabby said, “Joe you need to talk more,” that he opened up; and boy, Gabby (or any of us for that matter) wasn’t aware of the floodgates she was opening. His fiery personality combined with a phenomenal knack for writing has made him one of COSJ’s best. I cannot wait to see what he and Irene come up with next year as leaders of The Student. Thank you, Joe, for meticulously toeing the line of keeping me humble and hyping me up at the same time. Your trajectory is sky high.
Irene was undoubtedly the unsung hero of the newspaper this year, and has developed into a hell of a writer. When the sports section fell through for most of the year, she was the one coming up with nearly 16 pages of content every week, and didn’t miss a beat. She even wrote about sports, debuting in this year’s Pride Sports Journal. You wouldn’t have known she was a first-time sports writer. She has a real ability to adapt, and the way she manages her seemingly endless lists of tasks makes me think I’m not doing enough. Thank you, Irene. You’re going to uncover some crazy stories one day.
Then there’s Danny, the man I was afraid to talk to four years ago. He became one of my best friends, and co-leader. I’d be surprised to find co-leaders who never argue. It never happened with Dan and I. We shared a common goal to make the newspaper as recognizable on campus as it’s ever been, and I think we accomplished that. It’s funny how similar our paths have been, from working similar internships to sharing the role of Editor-in-Chief. There’s not a person I’m pulling for more to make a splash in the industry post-graduation. Thank you, Dan.
I would also regret not mentioning my professors who have helped me so much, whether it be in class, securing internships or just simply being there to talk. To Kyle Belanger, Laura Dubowski and Marty, thank you. This part of the journey with you all has been a blast.
All of these individuals have played their own part in my development as a journalist and a person, whether they know it or not. They’ve been an incredible support system, and I am forever indebted to what they’ve done for me.
I’ll always remember the memories in the basement of Abbey Hall that we shared. That’s my favorite place on campus (even though it floods sporadically), and no one even knows where it’s at.
Thank you. I cannot say it enough.
I’ll never forget this.
Photo Courtesy The Springfield Student