Well, it’s finally time to tell the ongoing tale of how one guy went through a roller coaster of life to get to where he is today.
There’s triumph. There’s tragedy. But the cast of people that have been alongside him couldn’t compare to what “Avengers: Secret Wars” will be.
Strap in and enjoy. Because this is going to be a bumpy ride.
Junior year of high school entailed the dreaded college search. I was unsure of how I wanted to leave my mark on this planet and continue my story.
I originally wanted to design video games as I thought that was the coolest thing I could possibly do.
That was until my brother got into coding and I then realized how impossible it would be for me to do anything like that. And the NBA was unfortunately out of the picture.
So, I was at a stalemate. That was until my mom came in and gave me a tip I will always be grateful for. She told me I should go into writing since I’ve always been a good writer.
With that in mind and the love of sports, and the Eagles just winning their first-ever Super Bowl against Tom Brady, it only made sense I venture into the world of sports journalism past high school.
It was off to the hill in Little Falls, New Jersey known as Montclair State University.
When I first visited an open house at the School of Communication and Media, that’s where I first heard of The Montclarion and met our faculty advisor Professor Tara George (not Gritty). In September, I went to a meeting to see where I could contribute and start a new chapter in my story.
There, in the “Sports Corner” in the NewsLab, was where I met then-sports-editor Samantha Impaglia and the assistant sports editor Corey Annan.
The first article I ever wrote was about then-sophomore-midfielder Emily DeGeyter and a profile of what she does at Montclair State.
I met with her at the Student Recreation Center with butterflies in my gut. But after interviewing her and writing what would originally be around a 1400-word article, I started to build a groove.
I ventured out further. I joined 90.3 WMSC and even looked into the Red Hawk Sports Network when it was first being established and was led by students like Jon Kociban and Jack Barteck.
After writing a few more articles, I was looking to get my own basketball radio show and help be a part of something new, life was going great. And then 2020 hit. And the peaks moved into valleys real quick.
To this day, I constantly feel I am never doing enough.
During the pandemic, there were times I felt like I wasn’t enough for myself, my peers or my family. And damn right everyone will tell you differently. But I could never consistently get over that hurdle.
I’ve had days where I questioned if I made the right choice going into the sports media field, and questioned if I would ever be truly happy again. If I would ever be as good as my brothers. If I ever really made my parents proud or if they just say that because they are my parents. If I could make it for real.
Then I started my first internship with The Borgen Project.
It started slow and it was remote, but outside experience is always a plus.
August 2021, it was nearing the end of lockdowns and they had just edited my first article. Then, one of the most traumatic moments of my life occurred.
My mom pulled us all into a room to say my golden retriever, Emily, who has been a main source of joy and happiness for me for over a decade, had a tumor and would have to be put down. I couldn’t stop crying to the point where my mom seemed genuinely concerned about me. Things seemed to keep getting worse.
Eventually, I would become an assistant sports editor alongside Jess Liptzin, who is currently doing his thing in Rockford, Illinois. Then it would just be me and Corey. Eventually, I would be the head honcho of sports with the newspaper.
Summer of 2022, I helped cover the 2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio to shed light on former football player Sam Mills. An experience I would never forget, my confidence began to light up in me.
A month later, I was at the top of my game. Sports editor, associate producer, radio host, University Fellow, Disruption Fellow, etc. But the pressure of it all became too much. I felt I was getting trapped in quicksand.
I talked to my mom in tears about what I was feeling. I went to the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and did therapy with one of the best people I have met on this campus, Khabir. The way you helped calmed me down in our first session while I was broken and hysterically crying and walked me through tips for managing depressing thoughts is nothing short of masterful.
After doing sessions bi-weekly, I was coping with it all and had a great fall 2022 semester. The Phillies made the World Series, and I got to meet some incredible people helping with the 2022 Heisman Ceremony.
And as we go into mid-May 2023, here I am. Ready to move onto a new chapter: the real world.
Moving past what I have done at Montclair State and into a place where the impact can be made greater and the unknowns are even stronger.
Change has been a constant part of my life but what I have accomplished as Sports Editor is something I will be forever proud of.
Could I have done better? Always. I’ve been at the bottom of layout pyramids from our wonderful Creative Director Hannah Effinger. I’ve had ambitions that never saw the light of day. But that’s where my successor, Ryan White, will come in.
Ryan, we’ve been connected ever since you came to Montclair State. From classes to radio broadcasts to working on pieces and assignments, we’ve gotten to build a bond that will last a very long time.
And I’ve seen you grow from a new writer who’s a huge fan of Orlando basketball and Steelers football, to an experienced journalist who has built connections with people like Erin Blanchfield and taking on new platforms of content. The section is in great hands next year. You call me a GOAT all the time, but you’re the real GOAT, brother.
Trying to thank every single person, like Big Sean once said in DJ Khaled’s song “Thank You,” is like trying to name every member of the Wu-Tang Clan. I might miss one or two, but that doesn’t mean they were just as important. Some love goes without saying.
To the wonderful e-board we had this academic year. Emma, you led this ship on a very successful voyage of great stories and even greater layouts. I, alongside your peers, could not be more proud of you. And Jenna, you were there to make sure everything looked smooth, made a lot of our lives easier and always livened the office up every Wednesday.
And to Avery, Sal, Megan, Kim, Hannah, Erin, Jennifer and Lynise. You all rocked it. Some of you are leaving but a lot of you are staying and are gonna rock it even harder in 2023 and 2024. Lynise and Sekhena are going to continue to lead, on the road to victory. Go Eagles. And yes, I will miss the “yo momma” jokes.
And a special shoutout to my photographers that have saved my butt one too many times, especially Trevor Giesberg and Dan Dreisbach. I know how to spell your last names perfectly since I use your photos so much, and I appreciate all of the great work you put out. Continue to capture the great moments of Montclair State athletics.
But nothing can top the thanks I want to give to my family. Growing up, you and your status helped guide me into college. That expertise helped me build my own person that will guide me into adulthood. It’s always love no matter what.
Deep down, I am really going to miss this place and contributing to the sports communication program here. From NCAA tournament berths to player milestones out of the wazoo to the biggest of heartbreaks.
It has been an absolute pleasure to cover the sports here and get a first-hand look at what it is like to be a Red Hawk student-athlete. The amount of players and coaches and athletic staff I have met and made connections with is grand, and I appreciate every one of you.
I hope you all are proud of me. It’s time to soar as a Red Hawk into a new horizon. And as Jalen Hurts once said, rent is due every day. And I don’t plan on missing any payments.
More Life. More blessings. Trust the process. Mighty M.O. out.