Current sports editor Brandon Pride sat down with one of his predecessors, "Big Will" DiGrande, and asked him 15 questions about his time at The Daily Pennsylvanian, his time at Penn, and life overall. Here's what the senior had to say.
1. Introduce yourself.
Hi, everyone. My name is Will DiGrande. I'm a senior studying political science from Warren, N.J. I joined the DP my freshman fall, and I became a sports editor my sophomore spring. I was an editor for two years, and now I'm enjoying my last semester of college.
2. How did you first decide to get involved the DP sports?
I was a sports writer for my high school's newspaper. And I knew that coming to Penn, I wanted to continue some of my extracurriculars from high school. So after reading a few of the first editions of the DP my freshman fall, I was like, wow, this seems really cool, and I definitely wanted to get involved with it. Once I got involved, I really couldn't get out of it. I love meeting the players and coaches and being a part of the department that made it so welcoming to be there.
3. You're a big Kansas sports fan who's from New Jersey. How did that happen?
I don't even know how it happened. It's funny because my dad is a huge Michigan fan. So we kind of have a thing going in our family where we're all fans of schools from across the country. And I guess when I was younger, I just really liked the logo, like the Jayhawk. I think that was also when their basketball team was doing really well, so I've just been following them ever since. And even though their football team isn't the best, I still try to follow them as much as I can.
4. Can you talk about what the roles and responsibilities are of being a senior sports editor?
Yeah, there are so many things. So basically, we just have to make sure that all the sports content that we publish — either in print or online — comes out well-written, well-edited, well-formatted, and all that. But in reality, it's also managing a staff of 30-plus writers, and making sure that everyone's happy and we have a good community going, that the culture is welcoming and positive. And it's also managing relationships with other departments and other editors, too. So you have to make sure that people think that you're approachable, people can trust you.
5. What is your favorite class at Penn?
I took Swedish for two years, my freshman and sophomore years, and I always say that's my favorite class because we just had a really tight-knit group. We were the same class for almost two years basically, so we got to know each other pretty well. And we all came into the class just wanting to learn the language, so it was a very low-stakes environment. I felt like I could just share whatever I wanted to without a lot of judgment.
And we took really cool field trips too, we went to IKEA and a Swedish museum in South Philly. We had little parties in class where our professor would bring in baked goods from her house, so all that was a really fun experience. And I recommend taking a fun language for anyone who wants to have a chance like that.
6. If you were a baseball player, what would your walk-up song be?
I feel like it would change literally every single week. But let's say "Levitating" by Dua Lipa.
7. What is the biggest positive that you took away from the pandemic?
I think I was really worried about how we, as a sports department, would work during COVID-19, just because sports were canceled and we didn't know what we were going to do for such a long time. But I'm really happy that [fellow Senior Sports Editor Michael] Landau and I were able to adapt really well and still have a lot of coverage throughout the summer and even in the fall, too.
I'm just happy that we were able to overcome this difficulty in our biggest activity at Penn, and that we were able to still make it a good experience for the people in the department and for us as well.
8. If you were hosting a new talk show, who would be your first guest?
I don't even know. There are so many people out there to interview, maybe a sports star, so I'm gonna go with Tim Tebow.
9. You're known as the DP's wrestling guru. What sparked your interest there?
Back in high school I was my high school wrestling team's manager, because my best friend was our star wrestler on the team and they needed someone to help film their meets so they could see the highlights online. So it's really funny, and it was a pretty big learning curve because I had never done any filming like that before. At first, I was working with literal discs and I had to put them into the camera. But after a while, we had it all digitized, where I was able to just put the flash drive into my computer. And that was a really fun experience.
I got to travel with them, be on the bus, and hang out with the team — and they all knew me and we had a good vibe going. So I was the I was manager for three years. At the end, they gave me awards and it was super, super cool to be involved with that, even though I wasn't actually an athlete.
10. Speaking of being an athlete, what was it like to go up against a D1 college fencer?
That was so much fun. I'm really glad that I had that experience, especially because it wasn't something that I had been preparing for. I was asked to do the video at the last minute. I had never fenced before, I'd never even held a sabre.
But Miranda was super chill. She knew that I had zero experience, and she might have let me get a point or two but I remember I did score, so I was very happy with that. And then the whole team that edited it made it look really nice and maybe better than I did in real life. So I was really happy for that.
11. What is the most underrated restaurant on or around campus?
Yiro Yiro right across from Acme. They have great gyros and it's close to the DP office, so it's very convenient for late nights.
12. What's your favorite memory from being a part of the DP?
Any of our road trips I think were so much fun, whether it was big group trips, like my freshman fall we went to Columbia, or just any road trips to cover games, it made me feel so official. I went to a few on my own, but any ones that I did with photographers or other editors, it made you feel like sitting on press row, you felt so just like, wow, I'm so accomplished, I'm sitting here with real reporters, and then getting to talk to the coaches afterwards. I'd say that's my top experience.
13. What is your favorite story that you've worked on at the DP?
I think this was my freshman year, I wrote a story about [an athlete] on the gymnastics team who was injured and then moved into a student coaching role. And I didn't know it at the time, but she was actually from the town next over to me back in New Jersey. So I reached out to her after the story and I was like, wow, I had no idea we were so close. As someone who’s overcome some physical limitations in my life as well, it was a really positive connection that she and I had, even though we never actually got to meet in person, but I thought that it was a cool connection that I had to the story.
14. Do you have any plans for after graduation?
I’m looking to get into political research, so I’ve been applying to a bunch of jobs recently. Nothing is set in stone just yet, but fingers crossed that something will fall into place very soon.
15. How do you want to be remembered within DPOSTM [The DP's Only Section That Matters]?
I think about this one kind of often because I want to, you know, have that legacy. But at the same time, I don't want to pressure people into thinking of me after I've graduated. But I want to be remembered as someone who's always positive and who tried to spread good energy throughout our meetings. Just someone who was dedicated to the department and was always a friendly face whenever someone needed to see it.
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