By Nick Perenick
Being back in my childhood bedroom for the last two months of college was not the conclusion of my senior year that I envisioned.
Just two months ago, I sat and meticulously planned out the rest of my semester my from room in Townhouse 6, jotting down on a notepad every upcoming work opportunity, internship shift, coaching event, and senior activity, including Commencement, in an effort to be as organized and punctual as possible. Unfortunately, as I scroll through this list in the present, I’m met with the stern reminder from the novel coronavirus that all of these well planned-out activities were cancelled. On the inside, I’m devastated.
I’m met with heavy emotion when my mind begins to drift off and remind me of the uncertainty of when I’ll be able to see the countless individuals from the Springfield community that made lifelong impacts on me. Springfield College was my home for four years, somewhere where I felt safe to fully be myself. So many students and faculty members helped shape me into who I am today, as they motivated me to be a better version of myself each and every day.
Among those who challenged me the most were the professors and students of my major, the Communication/Sports Journalism program. I came into the COSJ sure of two things: I liked sports, and I liked the idea of working in some facet of sports media. And boy was my path through this program a rewarding one. Campus media was my first real chance to get involved with what I felt was my purpose since I was a little kid. My first day in class I remember thinking: ‘Being graded for talking about sports on camera or on paper? I’ve been waiting years for this!’ Over the four years of coursework, I never felt school to be a daunting chore.
This is in part due to the students in the program who helped make my transition from goofy high school senior to a slightly less-goofy freshman flawless, always willing to help me out with my articles, television packages, and radio broadcasts.
It was also due to the fact that I was being guided by professionals such as Marty Dobrow who taught me that seeking the truth and reporting without breaking your credibility or integrity made for better journalism. He also encouraged me to break out of my comfort zone on a trip to St. Augustine that explored our nation’s history of racial injustice and its ties to MLK’s commencement speech on our campus. Kyle Belanger was a spark that ignited all of my interests in digital and audio journalism until I had successfully hosted my own radio shows, podcasts, and blogs. Dennis Gildea was always quick with a joke but was instrumental in my development as a sports historian and storyteller. I wouldn’t have been half as ready to broadcast on live TV without Laura Dubowski’s constant news literacy training and proper script-writing tips. Through COSJ I met countless professionals who have and will go on to do extraordinary things in media, and I cannot thank them enough for sharing their talents and skills with me. Not being able to have a final goodbye with the staff, my graduating class, and the friends I’m leaving behind is difficult to cope with.
I also have the entire Springfield College Athletic Department to thank for jump starting my career interests as well as allowing me to become a small piece of a place known as The Birthplace. Working firsthand for three years with some of the most professional individuals in that office motivated me to further pursue a career in collegiate athletics. From Brock-Affleck, to Archie Allen. From Potter and Stagg Fields, to the tracks. And of course, “The Mecca”, Blake Arena. I’ve been around to witness some athletic magic by the tremendous student-athletes at our school from the press boxes and scorers’ tables that won’t soon be forgotten.
Springfield is also the place where I met many of my best friends, whose friendship has lasted since the days of Gulick Hall through to today. For right now, Zooms, Facetimes, and other virtual hangouts will have to do, but nothing can replicate our countless Union and ‘Cheney chill’ experiences, playing NHL 18 until the controllers broke, Rice’s trips on Sunday mornings, or posting up down at the corner glass at Smead on a Friday night. I couldn’t have wished for a better group of people to be surrounded by and I know our connection will last long after our last time driving out under the arch.
While on the inside I’m devastated that my time as a student at Springfield College has come to a halt, I can’t help but try and be as positive as can be for those who may not necessarily be as fortunate in this time in our world’s history. I’m also constantly being reminded through messages, photos and videos from my Springfield College family of the four years of memories that won’t be forgotten anytime soon, and the new memories that we will make in the future. I’ll always be reminded of the spirit of my fellow students and the passion of the staff that made my time at the College feel like home.
Springfield College is truly a special place that I used to grow as a young man and professional, and I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my undergraduate years anywhere but Alden Street.