I was only a Tar Heel for a week when, on a Friday afternoon, my roommate Landon Bost said, “I was going to the Daily Tar Heel office because they have an open house tonight; do you want to come with me?”
My response was, “Yeah, I could come with you and check it out.”
Little did I know that applying to the sports desk would be the best decision I made at UNC. Even though my only journalism experience was a class I took at community college, I hoped for the best.
Then I got an email from then Sports Editor Chris Hilburn-Trenkle congratulating me on being accepted to the sports desk. I still have the email to this day because it meant the world to me.
Now, I sit here writing my final column and thinking about everything I've done and everyone I've met since being here. A lot of people made this worthwhile and I would like to thank them for everything they have done.
Obviously there's Chris, Jack Frederick and Holt McKeithan, the sports editors from 2018-2019 who brought me on. To each of you, thank you immensely. They took a huge chance on me, and I will forever be grateful for them. Each saw me as a hungry journalist who strived to get better every story, and they helped me through a tumultuous first semester at UNC.
Former Sports Editor Ryan Wilcox and current Sports Editor Brian Keyes, both of whom are phenomenal people in their own ways, edited me for most of my DTH career. Ryan pushed me, held me accountable more than any editor before and offered positive reassurance along the way. Brian is one of the most creative people I know. His ideas, style and leadership were incredibly unique and inspiring. Both of them are exceptional people, and I cannot thank them enough for what they have done.
Assistant Sports Editor Jared McMasters and I covered a softball game in April 2019 when he was just a staff writer. As we got a ride back to campus Monday night after the game, I said, “Jared, one day you’re going to be an editor. You have that much talent.” Now, he's in his second year as an assistant editor, and every story he edited, he thoroughly critiqued. Thanks Jared for always helping, understanding and being there.
Former Sports Editor Chapel Fowler was never more than a phone call or text away whenever I needed advice. We joked around, but he helped me think more critically about stories. He is easily one of the people I admire most, and out of everyone I met at North Carolina, Chapel is one of the best, both as a journalist and a person.
When I first met Parth Upadhyaya in spring 2019, he approached me, said he read my work and was happy to meet me. He and I have stayed in touch since, even after he earned a job covering the Penn State football beat, and I always felt comfortable going to him about anything. I always joked with him that it takes him three to five business days to respond to a text, but I never doubted how great of a friend and mentor he has been to me.
Last but not least, there's Madeline Coleman, who was, without a doubt, the person who taught me the most. I cannot thank her enough for what she has done for me and probably will continue to do. I shadowed her on my first assignment, and ever since then, she has supported me, guided me and pushed me to be better. She is an amazing journalist, but an even more incredible person, which speaks to her character. I have come to her with so many problems and questions, and she has done nothing but help as a friend. I know I can count on her for anything and she will give me the best advice. Thank you, Madeline, for everything. You don't know how much it meant.
To everyone else I may have missed, thank you for everything. I leave the DTH as a better journalist and person because of you. I've always told people when speaking about the paper that it was harder than I originally thought it would be. At the same time, it has been more rewarding than I could have ever imagined.
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