Thank You For Reading: Take Pride in Your Work, Anteaters

I’m fortunate to have spent the past two years as the associate Sports editor of the New U. It saddens me to hand over the reins to 2012-13 Sports editor Olivia Phelps and associate Joel Marshall, but this day had to come eventually.

While it tears me up inside to know that this could be the last layout I ever design for a newspaper, I leave the New U editorial board with confidence that it’s in good hands. I hope that the Sports section and the rest of the paper take my passion for aesthetics, as well as accuracy, to heart. I know that this paper will continue to produce a quality publication for years to come.

I started at the New U as a staff writer in 2009. I never could have imagined the doors that journalism could open and the quality conversations that would follow because of a press pass. I now have an internship at college football’s Lott IMPACT Trophy because of a well-conducted interview with athletic director Mike Izzi, who has ties to Lott. Just ask Opinion editor Kevin Phan. He now checks in on Twitter from the office of Michelle Obama. There’s no limit to the doors a job as simple as a college newspaper can open.

As a former baseball player- turned-journalist, some of the more memorable conversations I’ve had in college have been with baseball manager Mike Gillespie. Skip is a hall-of-famer who is willing to talk to any journalist, whether it’s veteran Barry Faulkner of the Daily Pilot or a first-time New U sports writer.

A conversation with Gillespie has always made my day. When you get a chance to talk baseball with one of the greatest minds in the history of college baseball, you’re blessed, and I’m honored to have had several conversations with the coach. After a tough season in which the baseball team failed to qualify for an NCAA Regional, all I can say is that Gillespie deserves to hold his post as manager of the Anteaters until he decides to retire. He won’t wear out his welcome, and his welcome has no end in sight.

Not every player buys into Gillespie’s unorthodox methods, but Gillespie has recruited and taught some of the finest young men on this campus, players who are a pleasure to converse with. I’ll never forget covering Matt Summers’ no-hitter against Long Beach State last year and Gillespie crossing his arms, proud of Summers but commenting on how certain he was that his ace would be leaving a year early for the MLB draft. Win or lose, Gillespie is always candid and a journalist’s perfect source for quotes.

Another coach that I’ve had the fortune of interacting with is women’s soccer coach Scott Juniper. His English accent juxtaposes the plethora of valley girl vernaculars on his soccer field, but I’ve never seen another coach with such passion. Juniper makes a huge impact. Without his guidance, that team would have never reached the Sweet 16. Simply put, he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to UCI women’s soccer. The players will come and go, but if Juniper sticks around, wins will always find their way to Anteater Stadium.

The first and only volleyball game that I’ve ever covered ended up on the front page of the New U a few weeks back. Interviewing the Anteaters and Coach John Speraw after winning the NCAA Championship last month was one of the more memorable moments I’ll take from my time in college. We now await one of the biggest decisions in UCI Athletics history. Will Speraw leave for UCLA, or will he return to win more national championships for decades to come? I certainly hope Speraw retires an Anteater.

Men’s basketball coach Russell Turner and I first met at ESPN Zone at Downtown Disney for the 2010-11 Big West media day. When he disliked a question that I asked, he made it known. That’s the type of leadership that the Anteaters need. He’s brutally honest. With a team that has routinely undergone midseason slumps in the past, Turner is a personality that can attract recruits and eventually send the Anteaters to the Big Dance.

Turner is always willing to chat when I see him around campus. Last spring, while I was doing laundry in Vista Del Campo, he was showing Will Davis II the facilities. I told Davis that I couldn’t wait to see him play forward for the Anteaters in the fall. Turner told Davis, “This guy will be writing articles about you pretty soon.” He was right. The next weekend, UCI announced Davis’ commitment and this year he set the school record for blocks in a season.

Next year, I’ll continue to write for the New University as a staff writer, but it just won’t be the same. As I explore career opportunities and attempt to line up some sort of a living for myself, I’ll take with me friendships and memories as an editor. Whether it was talking Angels baseball with Zachary Risinger and Kevin Phan, talking trash on Young Kim for being a Dodgers fan, or joking around with Michael Chin, Vinh Nguyen, Greg Yee, Amanda Robbins, Natasha Aftandilians and company, the staff has made missing Chargers games on Sundays bearable, and given me something to look forward to on Wednesdays. Nothing beats picking up our product every Tuesday and encouraging others to do the same.

I also can’t say enough about the impact last year’s Editor-in-Chief, David Gao, had on my writing. I’ve never met another young sports writer that I could relate to quite like David. I’ll never forget winning the men’s recreational softball championship at the ARC last year with David’s team, and how ecstatic I was when Pujols chose the Angels, yet how heartbroken I felt for David — a lifelong Cardinals fan. My writing improved immensely in the year that I had David editing my stories, and for that, I’m extremely appreciative.

To all those who have read, skimmed, scoffed at and used my articles as kindling or toilet paper, I say thank you. In this day and age, too many people skate through life waiting for the next party or weekend. Too often many of us attempt to get away with doing the bare minimum. Whether it’s sitting on Facebook at work instead of attempting to make a difference, or placing articles without thinking of a creative title or layout, there’s always a chance to stand out. If we all took pride in every single project that we took on rather than trying to get away with “just good enough,” then we’d have something to party for when the weekend rolled around. Coaches Speraw, Turner, Gillespie and Juniper all take every day as a challenge. Every day is an opportunity to improve. With that kind of a mindset, imagine what all of us could do.