Senior Farewell by Mike Tony | Round goes the wheel
May 15, 2014, 5:24 pm · Updated May 15, 2014, 9:59 pm·
I h ave nothing to say, really.
I’ve always said what I wanted to say through my stories. Growing up, I admired sports figures like John Stockton and Chuck Noll who let their work speak for themselves, and I’d be happy to let my work for the DP during my four years here speak for itself.
But I also feel compelled to acknowledge that the DP is where I discovered myself as a journalist, even though it took me a couple of years to develop my voice here.
Then, while most of my fellow sports editors fell in love with other editors, I fell in love with the DP itself. There’s nothing purer than student journalism at its finest, and there’s a lot of that here. College students learning how to find, interpret and report truth while bonding with their peers can only be good for society, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun too.
I certainly never thought I’d ever become senior sports editor here, but I’m awfully glad I did. I realize now why many notable DP alumni journalists still point to the DP as the highlight of their careers — it’s where they were made, and it’s where they enjoyed true editorial freedom. During my time as a staff writer and senior sports editor here, I exercised that freedom as much as possible.
In doing so, I found a couple of common threads in a few stories I’ve had the honor of telling. In an academic year in which three students have committed suicide, I’ve interviewed friends of Madison Holleran as well as the courageous mothers of Owen Thomas and Kyle Ambrogi, two Penn football players who committed suicide in 2010 and 2005, respectively. I’ve interviewed friends of former Penn basketball player Matt White, who was murdered by his schizophrenic wife. I’ve talked to several other sources who are bravely battling mental illness and homelessness.
Now is as good a time as ever to applaud the braveness of these interviewees. Where survival would have been admirable, they found the additional strength to focus on mental health awareness, and all we can do is share actively in that awareness whenever possible.
The other common thread in some of my stories has been community. Penn Athletics is merely an umbrella term for communities here at Penn that use sport to come together. Some of these communities are in better shape than others. All of them individually strive to succeed in uniting their members as one.
I was fortunate enough to get to cover that unison for the DP both on Penn’s campus and beyond it. The DP brought me to West Philly, North Philly, Camden, Conshohocken, Charlottesville, Williamsburg and every Ivy campus except Dartmouth. (That’s what Golombek was for.) I did in-person interviews with strangers riding a subway, in a homeless shelter, inside food carts, at the counter of a beer distributor, the stands at both ends of Franklin Field, the groundskeeping crew break room inside Franklin Field and seemingly everywhere else in between. I got to know those subjects a little better than I did before, and I learned a little better how Penn fits in with its Ivy and Philadelphia neighbors. What more could a near-recluse ask for?
On top of that, I simultaneously got to make the DP sports office my second home. Thanks to all those who made it so for me, particularly ...
Ian and Jimmy. Thanks for the pop.
Ellen. Thanks for handling my pranks — and the DP — so well.
Julie and Jen. Beefy McManstick.
Mike. You’re welcome for the Pujols quotes. And thanks for easing my transition into editing at the DP and, even more importantly, for your great friendship.
All 129 associates — thank you for making DPOSTM a better place and me a happier person.
Steven. You’re doing a great job. Always remember that relief is just a couple of McNuggets away.
John. When I needed another non-drinking, working-class English major sports editor in the office and beyond, you were there. Our legacies here at the DP, inasmuch as they exist at all, will be forever linked inextricably, and I couldn’t be more proud of that. You get it. Really, you always have.
My parents. Thanks for liking every DP Facebook post in recent memory and especially for supporting me always.
I love you all, and I love writing too. It’s time to get loving and writing somewhere else now. Round goes the wheel.