It was a warm, summer evening and my friends and I were spending the night on Wildwood’s boardwalk. I was feeling good – I had finished my first year of college, received a raise at my ice cream-scooping job at Friendly’s and was named the cross country beat writer of this very newspaper.
My focus shifted around the ninth hole, though, when I checked my Twitter feed and discovered that Temple’s cross country coach had announced his resignation. I contacted the sports editor, Joey Cranney, whose response was simple: Get on it.
So I did. I left that game of miniature golf and spent the next 24 hours talking to the coach and players, gathering statistics and putting together a draft for publication. I remember sitting in the front seat of our parked minvan, my MacBook resting on my lap as I paged through my reporter’s notebook. I finished the story and sent it in, hoping for the best.
Later that day, a text rolled in from Joey: “Great f—ing reporting. That’s what I’m talking about.”
I was alone in a small beach shack, as my family lounged by the ocean, but that one little text gave me the biggest boost of confidence imaginable. I remember my mom walking through the front door as I jumped to show her my phone. “Look what my editor said about my article!” I told her.
An athletic department spokesperson would later yell at me for talking to athletes without his permission, but I got the story and that’s what mattered.
Years later, I often still think back about that moment in my career – when a young journalist treated his seemingly insignificant beat as seriously as if he were covering the Phillies or Eagles. But right now, as I write my final piece for The Temple News, thinking of it only makes me realize how much I’m going to miss this place.
I will miss the rush that runs through me every Tuesday morning when I pick up a freshly printed issue. I will miss the feeling of being a “watchdog” for the university community. And I will miss walking around Main Campus seeing you, the reader, with a newspaper in your hands.
But above all else, I will miss the people I have met through this job. They are my friends as much as they are my colleagues and my family as much as they are my staff.
In truth, I have been putting off this column for the longest time. It’s now the day before print, all of our stories are filed and I still haven’t finished. It’s not that I’m not ready to say goodbye – I am. It’s not that I don’t know how I should say goodbye – I do. It’s that “goodbye” is not an easy word to say.
J.M. Barrie wrote in “Peter Pan” that “goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” The line is corny, but also piercingly accurate. For me and so many other Temple students graduating this week, we face the bittersweet reality that college – the best years of our lives spent with the best friends of our lives – is coming to an end.
For me, college was The Temple News. I learned more here than I ever could in a classroom, and the people here inspired me in ways my professors never could. I spent so many evenings in our newsroom like this one: energized almost entirely by Coke Zero, candy bars and the approach of a deadline.
I know the memories of my time here will fade, and inevitably, the friendships, too. What won’t fade, though, are the stories we told – 29 issues chock-full of them. They will be neatly folded and stored in the archives of this office, to be discovered some day by a future generation of young journalists.
Those students will probably remember us, Volume 93, for stories like the death of beloved trustee Lewis Katz, the Bill Cosby scandal and the investigation of an abusive track & field coach.
Surely, I will remember us for these stories, too. But, do you know what I’ll really remember?
I will remember our multimedia editor for being both the ultimate voice of reason and the office goofball. I’ll remember the sounds of our chief copy editor belching through a production day and our managing editor cracking her fingers when she gets too stressed. I’ll remember the features editors for their contagious giggles, our sports guys for their strong affinity for Mexican takeout, our news team for never quitting when the job gets tough and all the others – the ones who stuck with me until the very end.
I’ll also remember this: On a recent Wednesday afternoon, one of our talented freshman sports reporters crept into my office after a section meeting. He shook my hand, told me he admired my work and described how much he has enjoyed writing for our newspaper. He also asked for some feedback.
To that writer, our many other gifted reporters and my inexplicably wonderful staff, I really only have one thing left to say.
Great f—ing reporting. That’s what I’m talking about.
Avery Maehrer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @AveryMaehrer.