For the past four years, I’ve managed to fool everyone at the Daily Pennsylvanian into thinking I’m a journalist, and let me tell you, the act was exhausting.
Truth is, I’m no reporter — I never wrote an article before freshman year.
My path to the DP Sports section was by default. It was selfish. I was using it to feed a dying dream.
I’m a failed athlete and that failure took its toll on my psyche. After quitting club baseball and going through a lackluster stint with lightweight crew, I knew there had to be a way to pick up the pieces.
When I saw an ad in the paper, it all made sense: the DP would give me free food to watch sporting events — and that was reason enough.
Never mind that whole writing aspect; my responsibilities would be essentially the same as any other night of the week. What’s more, I could still be involved in sports, now with the added bonus of Ed’s pizza and wings.
I remember my first story. October of freshman year, I was assigned to a field hockey game at Franklin Field. Let me go on record by saying I watched my girlfriend play that sport for two years in high school, and I still have no idea what’s going on.
Regardless, I met then-coach Val Cloud for the post-game interview determined to make a lasting impression, and damnit I did.
I greeted the 5-foot frail Cloud with eye contact and a firm handshake — so firm, I might add, that she literally cried out in pain as I introduced myself.
I think they call that an auspicious start.
In any case, four years and 110 articles later, I wouldn’t take back my time as a writer or editor for anything.
From free road trips and delicious fried food, to courtside seats at the Palestra and interviewing the Duke lacrosse coach, it was a hell of a ride for this sports fan.
And that’s what makes sports the Only Section That Matters, because everyone working there has the same irrational enthusiasm about Penn Athletics.
Maybe I’m speaking for myself, but it feels good to strip away the self-imposed objectivity of a reporter and finally root for my school. (Great year, Penn Lax.)
I’ll forever remember the DPOSTM office, which looks like my bedroom at age six; posters and photos of athletes and coaches, autographs and notes from sports figures across the country. Not an inch of wall shows in that room, and I hope that never changes.
If nothing else, my efforts with the DP have afforded me the opportunity for public thanks.
To all the writers, editors, AComm folks, coaches and players I was able to work with: thank you.
To Jenny, maybe you’ll read one of my articles now that I put your name in it, I love you.
To Lisa, hopefully I’m in New York next year so we can finally hang out.
To Mom and Dad, I wish I could thank you every day for all you’ve done. Nobody asked you to be great parents, but you are. The best.
Mom, you inspire me every day whenever I think about you beating cancer. You may not know that, but I’m so proud of you.
Dad, I’m lucky to have someone in my life that can give me sound advice on anything from complex mathematics to how to make the perfect sandwich.
And there you have it.
A certain professor once told me, ‘a writer writes, always.’
So maybe I’m not even a writer, as I’ll likely never have another published article.
But maybe someday I’ll come back to the DP Sports office as a guest speaker and talk about my experience — I hear the catering at those events is fantastic.
JOE SANFILIPPO is a 2011 College graduate and former associate sports editor from North Carolina, Maryland, Ohio and Georgia. He can be reached at Josephls@sas.upenn.edu. He hopes to work in healthcare consulting after graduation.
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