Chris Gionta: Filling a page

By Chris Gionta

Sometimes, you’re just filling pages. They’re not all gonna be Pulitzer Prize winners, I’m sorry to say. We got a front and back cover and 14 pages to fill in between at The Springfield Student, and I’ve been assigned to put my silly words on one of them.


It was one of the first times I was in the newspaper office when Springfield Student Assistant Sports Editor Joe Arruda told me I was on the baseball beat for that year. It was pretty funny considering I was cut from that team in an attempt to walk on just five months prior, but I don’t think many people outside the team or the second floor of Massasoit Hall knew about that.

My tryout process was easy to miss, since it took four days of fall season for me to get the boot. I wouldn’t have blamed head coach Mark Simeone if he did not remember me when I stepped on to Archie Allen Field to interview him.

Whether or not he did, we grew more familiar with each other, but not in the way I initially planned. I grew to appreciate getting cut more over time, since sports writing was surely going to be a larger part of my future than playing.


After a lot of work improving my baseball skill that resulted in about 20 pounds gained, 165 pounds added to my max deadlift and my fastball being increased by eight miles per hour, I failed to hit my summer velocity goal heading into my junior year here, and determined I needed to prioritize my focus on things that would reward me more. 

The main idea of that was my potential career in sports journalism, which started with The Springfield Student.

I had been appointed Co-Sports Editor, but barely had experience covering sports thanks to everyone’s favorite virus. That quickly changed in my junior year.

Through consistent game stories on the women’s volleyball, men’s basketball and baseball teams, weekly print articles, Hoophall stories and a Pride Sports Journal feature, I put together 64 articles in the 2021-22 academic year, while also contributing to the newspaper layout each week. The Springfield Student, and sports media in general, became the new thing for me to put my heart into. 

It was definitely necessary. I certainly did not come into the paper overwhelmingly talented. Yet, The Springfield Student allowed me to grow. I was allowed to write a lot of okay articles before learning how to write good ones, and you do not get that everywhere.

And most of what I have learned about good writing and journalism has been through experience, advisors and especially through fellow students at this publication.

Joe Arruda, you were the one badgering me about sending live tweets for Springfield baseball games only three years ago. I would watch you rightfully rip my game stories to shreds in real time through a Google Doc, and I ultimately learned a lot about the journalistic process through observing you. You set a high bar for Springfield sports coverage.

Garrett Cote, I went from barely knowing you prior to this fall to growing a solid kinship with you for our senior year. You got a lot of praise after Hoophall in our junior year, so I dug into your work a little more, and really took influence on scene-setting and ledes. It’s been a pleasure sharing layout headaches with you in both newspaper and PSJ.

Carley Crain and Cait Kemp, I am always impressed with your abilities to do things I am not good at﹣whether it be writing great news stories, columns, articles on sensitive topics or a variety of other things. Getting to know you both from COMM-101 to now has been an amazing experience, and I am excited for what you both have in store.

Marty Dobrow, you politely persisted me into joining the newspaper, so I owe you a “thank you.” I am not someone who naturally puts himself out there. You identified that I needed a push (or two), and without that, things may look different for me.

Aimee Crawford, I have absorbed an abundance of knowledge on the intricacies of writing just from you fixing my subheadlines for layout, never mind the consistent editing on my stories﹣especially with my upcoming PSJ piece. You are everything we could ask for in an advisor and more. You do everything you can for us, and that will never get lost on me. If my future bosses are half as good as you are an advisor, I will be very lucky.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout to the people who are the current and future of this newspaper: Braedan Shea, Luke Whitehouse, Sean Savage, Patrick Fergus, River Mitchell, Nick Pantages, Tucker Paquette, Corey Raftery and Liam Reilly, who made this year much easier. Only Braedan had written with us before this year, and it’s been a pleasure having you all contribute quality work while making the office a fun time, too.

I am surely over my word limit now, so I apologize to this story’s layout designer. Just use size-11 font and spacing, and make my picture smaller.

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