COLUMN: As the clock hits 0:00
Oftentimes, people ask me what my dream job is. And I’m left in a predicament.
I’m sure there’s something I’d really enjoy. A job that allows me to do all the things I love at the same time. Something fulfilling.
But honestly, my somewhat depressing answer lately has been this: “I can’t think of a job more fun than the one I have right now.”
Sounds hokey. And trust me, they’re not paying me to say this. As I reflect as I prepare to graduate, I know being a sports writer and editor for Central Michigan Life has been remarkable on many levels.
After the world persuaded me away from journalism at the start of my freshman year, I landed as an integrative public relations major — something I’ve enjoyed greatly and learned tons from.
I decided to still apply at CM Life, with the dream of someday sitting in the press box at Kelly/Shorts Stadium to cover a football game. I was initially rejected before eventually being hired the second semester of my freshman year.
Which is where I started my sport-covering trek.
Club volleyball, a bit of softball and baseball. Varsity volleyball. Gymnastics. Believe it or not, a few weeks of covering these beats turned me into a volleyball connoisseur and a gymnastics junkie.
And to think, for the longest time the only sport I cared to follow was NASCAR.
With my head to the ground, I didn’t realize my progress. From a young age, I was always better at math than reading and writing, but I didn’t let that limit my options. I was even told I needed to go to summer school for writing if I wanted to get into a private high school, which I decided wasn’t worth it.
But after a year and a half covering a little bit of everything for CM Life, I was called up. Being pulled aside by the leader after a team meeting, I felt like the Triple-A baseball player — who wasn’t supposed to make it — heading to the majors.
As a junior, I would be the senior reporter on the sports desk and a beat writer for the football team.
I quickly realized this was a big deal, as I tweeted away in the press box during CMU’s come-from-behind victory over Chattanooga during the first week of classes one Thursday night in 2014.
From there, the opportunities grew. I was sent as far as Purdue and Illinois to tell the story of the football team — stories that made students temporarily forget about that 10-page paper or group project due the next Monday.
I wrote in awe, as the men’s basketball team broke out of it’s shell and made a conference title run, reinvigorating CMU basketball culture — or as I wrote in one column, made fans go “berserk at McGuirk.”
I’ve chronicled the highs.
Covering the craziness of the Bahamas Bowl from my grandma’s couch, cranking out the game story while feeding the Twitosphere before booking it to the Christmas Eve church service.
Watching my coworker painfully delete his prepared game story from the Ernie Harwell Media Center in the Comerica Park press box, as CMU baseball completed a colossal comeback in the bottom of the ninth inning against Michigan State.
I’ve kept typing through the lows.
When teams struggled and fans gave up by halftime, my effort wavered none. When the volleyball coach was suspended and eventually resigned, I thumbed through the hundreds of pages of documents, made the uncomfortable phone calls and asked those in power the questions everybody wished didn’t have to be asked.
As an editor? Everything is amplified.
Not only did I enjoy the rollercoaster of my own beat, but I learned and taught other journalists in our pursuit of production. Along with a dozen other writers, we covered every CMU varsity sport, and did it unlike anybody else.
While professional publications struggle to find resources to put two writers on a Tigers or Lions beat, I had two field hockey beat writers. And two covering cross country. All while having hundreds of stories on football and basketball.
As for the presentation of the material, I stuck my hand in that, too. I was learning how to match photos with stories, working with designers to create digestible graphics and trying to entice readers on social media without sounding like BuzzFeed or The Onion.
Long hours were spent on the fourth floor of Moore Hall. For anyone who knows me, the number of meals I skipped or delayed for this job is indicative of my heart for it.
Along with my fellow editors, I sat in on editorial board meetings, worked on the craft of wordsmithing and developed a perhaps unhealthy love for peanut butter pretzels. I brainstormed terrible headlines like “Holy Bowly,” “Ball is Life,” “From the Window to the Walderzak” and “Chip, Chip, Hooray!” I spent most Tuesday and Saturday nights preparing to build the sports section the next day.
We skipped social gatherings to finish a story. Or to sit down with a reporter, in hopes they might take that next step.
It matters very little what you can do yourself once you’re gone.
There were late nights. A few early mornings. While in the past, journalists could pack up their bags at the end of the day and put work on the backburner, the 24/7 newsroom never stops and rarely lets up.
But it’s all about to stop for me. At least from the fourth floor of Moore Hall.
As I prepare to graduate and move on in the journalism world, I can’t help but tearfully smirk as I look back at the past four years. Every single reader, writer and editor has made this job about the journey, not the destination.
As I polish my final few works and finish off the final few peanut butter pretzels, one thought remains.
Any place even half as inspiring as CM Life is a workplace worth joining. That, right there, is the dream job.