The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Farewell column: The spring break trip that made me love the DTH

Ryan Wilcox (left) sports editor of The Daily Tar Heel, swivels past a staffer at Duke's Chronicle during a scrimmage in Brodie Recreation Center on Duke's campus on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. The Daily Tar Heel beat the Chronicle three games to one.

My favorite memory of college isn’t a party, a basketball game or a night out at bars. It’s a week in a co-worker’s spare bedroom at his childhood home in Denver, N.C.

It was there — in between well-worn sleeping bags and dusty PlayStation 2 discs — that I elected to spend my spring break in 2019. And it was there I found out that joining The Daily Tar Heel would be one of the best decisions I ever made in college.

I was an assistant sports editor that year, having joined the office full time in the spring with zero friends in the building and even less of an idea of what to expect. I was thrown into the mix as one of a handful of newcomers that semester, with the rest of the office having had half a year to gel.

I was scared.

But I was lucky enough that the rest of the sports desk — editor Chris Trenkle, assistant editors Jack Frederick and Holt McKeithan — saw past my obvious fear. They welcomed me with open arms, and the rest of the office did, too. Two months in, I still didn’t feel like a real DTHer, but I was getting comfortable — comfortable enough that when Chris asked me if I wanted to cover the ACC Tournament in Charlotte, I gave only a few seconds’ thought before answering.

“Sure,” I said. I didn’t have any other plans. 

So Chris and I made the two-hour trek to Denver, just outside of Charlotte, and crashed at the lovely home of Chapel Fowler to cover the Tar Heels’ conference postseason run. Chapel’s family welcomed us with open arms as we ate his food and trashed his guest bedroom.

I came in with something of a business-first (read: overserious) mindset: go to the game, write your story, go home.

The three of us did that, but we did so much more. We played pickup hoops with Chapel’s younger brother (my team kicked ass, if memory serves). We ate copious amounts of Chick-Fil-A. We got to know each other beyond the basics, talking music, movies and sports and geeking out about covering some of the most thrilling basketball we’d ever seen. We became friends.

I wasn’t crushing White Claws at Myrtle Beach, but it still managed to be a pretty damn fun spring break. I fell in love with the DTH, applied to be the sports editor for the next school year and the rest, as they say, was (my own small and insignificant version of) history.

I got to write about Roy Williams and UNC basketball, Mack Brown and Tar Heel football, the most dominant field hockey player in the country, a pandemic, a protest, sports, Chapel Hill and so much more.

None of it would’ve happened without that week in Charlotte. In fact, most of my favorite DTH memories — the 2019 NCAA Tournament in Columbus, Ohio, the next year’s ACC Tournament in Greensboro, UNC football’s Orange Bowl matchup in Miami — are road trips. The DTH is about nothing if not the people — the people who edit your stories and pull all-nighters with you and yell at you about print deadlines and get drinks with you at Linda’s and laugh at your jokes and cry on your shoulder and, once in a while, spend 12 hours in a car with you talking about Richard Linklater movies and Michael Cera’s surprisingly impressive music career (what’s up, Jared and Morgan).

Working at the DTH has always been about the people. So I want to close by just thanking everyone who made my time there so memorable. 

On sports desk: Chapel Fowler, Chris Trenkle, Holt McKeithan, Alex Zietlow, Jack Frederick, James Tatter, Jared McMasters, Zach Crain, Brian Keyes (and so many more I’m forgetting).

Outside of sports desk: Maeve Sheehey, Marin Wolf, Molly Weisner, Brandon Standley, Preston Lennon, Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez, Paige Masten, Hannah Lang, Maya Carter, Emily Siegmund, Anna Pogarcic, Maddie Ellis, Morgan Pirozzi, Paige Ladisic, Erica Perel (and so many more I’m forgetting).

Thanks for being there for the best four years of my life.


To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.