Senior Column: Growth and conclusion

Well, this wasn’t how I expected it to go.

When I graduated from high school four summers ago, I was a person who wouldn’t have minded spending his entire life at home. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy company, but if my free time consisted of staying in my house and watching sports documentaries, that was just fine with me.

Throughout my freshman year at Waynesburg University, I wasn’t a person who showed up to large social gatherings on weekends. Rather, I’d stay in my room and relax.

By the middle of my sophomore year, I wanted to be around as many people as often as possible. That desire to continue being around others kept burning deeper for the rest of my college life.

Four years ago, I might have been content with spending my life at home. Sure, I would have hated not having live sports to watch for heaven knows how long, but not being able to see people wouldn’t have eaten me up inside the way it is now.

Everybody is looking for positives these days. One of the positives of the pain I’m feeling from my last moments of college being stolen from me is that this hurt is a symbol of how much I’ve grown.

I’ll always be grateful for my time at Waynesburg, and how much better off I am now than I was four years ago. The number one reason for that is the people, and although I can’t thank everybody in one article, I’d like to give a few shout outs, starting with the professors.

Lanny Frattare is the reason I came to Waynesburg University. The first time I ever visited Greene County was in the summer after my junior year of high school to attend Lanny’s sports announcing camp. If I didn’t know about that camp, I probably wouldn’t have ever found out about Waynesburg. Although I’m getting my degree in journalism, Lanny and the sports announcing program are the reason I found the place that changed my life.

Dr. Brandon Szuminsky and Professor Richard Krause helped shape my writing in my underclassmen years. Dr. Szuminsky’s news writing and reporting class was where I started to blossom in journalism. Professor Krause’s sports writing class taught me about the branch of writing that I love most.

In the winter of my junior year, the university brought on Joe Starkey as an adjunct professor. To have the opportunity to take two classes with one of my favorite local media members was fantastic, and every week, professor Starkey inspired me to get better.

Now for the most important people I met in college: my friends. Drew Brown and Donny Chedrick have helped me in so many ways. When I came in as a freshman, they were already juniors, but they took me in and allowed me to get to know them. Today, they are two of my best friends.

I also had a number of friendships in the class of 2020 that I’ll never forget, but there are two in particular that are especially meaningful. During that broadcast camp, I got to know Mitch Montani and Dakota Keefer. We all decided to go to Waynesburg, and by the end of freshmen orientation, I knew the three of us were going to be close. Sure, we’ve had several arguments over the past four years, but we always moved past them, knowing we’d argue again, but also knowing that whatever we bickered about would only make our time together more fun.

Now, for the Yellow Jacket. When I arrived at Waynesburg, Jacob Meyer was the sports editor, and I understood right away that he’d be an important person to learn from if I were to make an impact with the sports section. Meyer’s critiques let me know what I did wrong, but were always encouraging, and they were a big reason why I never lost confidence that first year. Until my last moments at Waynesburg, he was always somebody I looked to for advice on articles, and I’m grateful for his advice and, most important, his friendship.

To my advisor, Sarah Bell, who oversaw both The Yellow Jacket and the Society of Professional Journalists, which I was the president of this year, thank you. Despite all of her responsibilities, she was always a calming presence amidst a sometimes brutal storm of work. Whenever I worried about something Yellow Jacket or SPJ related, I knew I could reach out to her to reassure me that I could handle it. Without people like that, it’s hard to get through life.

To the three executive editors I worked for — Kimmi Baston, Mattie Winowitch and my classmate Holly Hendershot, you guys were all in and always kept The Yellow Jacket moving through good times and some bad ones. To Dylan Cleland, we didn’t know what to expect with the sports section this year, and we made our share of mistakes, but overall, the two of us worked well together, and the good things that came out of our jobs far outweighed the bad.

Maybe I’m not ready to fully reflect on college yet. Right now, I’m still hurting. I don’t know when things will be right again. However, what I do know is that college made me a better man, and whenever the day comes where everything is how it should be — how we deserve it to be — I’m going to smile, looking back on all it brought me.