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Column: Changing of the ledge

Senior Staff Writer

Published: Monday, April 23, 2012

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 18:08

Two years ago, almost to the day, I decided to go to our Daily Campus banquet as a freshman. It was pretty intimidating, to be honest. The only people I really knew were from the sports department, so I just kind of stayed in that small social circle.

I had some neat conversations with the other guys in the department, but now what I remember most was a picture that was taken.

From left to right in that photo were Matt McDonough, Mac Cerullo, myself and Colin McDonough. That group was set to be the future of the sports department for the next three years.

Mac and Matt were Sports Editor and Associate Sports Editor the next year, the following year—this year,—the department was headed up by Matt and Colin and next year, I will be editor with Tyler Morrissey as the associate.

The more I think about that picture, the less it becomes a foreshadowing photo and the more it becomes a memorial shot with three of the guys to whom I owe a lot.

Those three are the reason that I’m able to take up the department next year.

It was under Mac that I first learned how to design the pages of the sports department during my sophomore year. When I say that was rough, I mean that was rough. I would get in at 6 p.m. and I wouldn’t finish until around 2 a.m. every time. Not only that, but the work I was doing was horrid.

In a span of three weeks, I miswrote a football score as 5-4, forgot to change a photo caption—so the caption for a men’s soccer player appeared as though he were a woman—and then I wrote Mac’s byline as “Sports Writer,” a combination of Staff Writer and Sports Editor. To my defense, the last one was not entirely a false title.

During almost every Monday night department meeting when he saw what I inadvertently screwed up the previous night, Mac would face-palm and chuckle, saying “Damnit, Dan!”

But, what I did get right was beyond simple from a design standpoint. My pages had almost no variety to them and almost every Sunday night’s sports section looked the same. It was just plain bad.

Despite screw up after screw up, Mac helped me out when I needed it and instead of always harping on what I messed up—which was a lot—he showed me what I was doing right, which made a ton of difference.

Matt and Colin are two writers who really do not give themselves enough credit regarding the quality of work they do. I always used to read their game stories and features to see how it’s done and even this year, I still did.

Matt’s story that he wrote last year on Tim Brown’s recollections of growing up with Jasper Howard brought me to tears in Whitney Dining Hall. The story was sports journalism at its finest.

If you ask me, those two are so good at writing because over their entire DC career, Matt and Colin McDonough have been a boss at talking to athletes for articles and building connections with the players. It’s amazing how well they’ve been able to get inside stories and interviews for their pieces. I literally have no idea how they do it and it’s something that I’ve always really respected about them.

I’m not sure if they know this, but it’s through observing them that I learned more about finding sources for stories than I did in all of my journalism classes combined.

The two of them might joke about hating reporting, but in their own goofy way, they are as good at it as anybody I’ve ever observed.

Also, if you ever get the chance, ask the McDonough’s about the time former UConn QB Zach Frasier got pissed at them for not giving him their pizza. It’s legendary.

During every meeting, the sports editor and associate editor sit at the ledge in the front of our conference room, while everyone else sits at the conference table in front of them. Then, every year, the sports department has a ceremony that I like to call “The passing of the ledge,” during which the current department heads hand the ledge over to the new editors. I’ve witnessed two of them before and it’s crazy to think that this time, I will be the one to whom the ledge will be handed over. After seeing three quality journalists seated at that spot, it’s beyond humbling to think that I will be in that position.

I have no idea how I’m going to handle tonight. To be honest, it will be weird sitting on that ledge and seeing everyone else seated at the conference table.

Mac, Matt and Colin have no reason to worry, though. There will always be a space on that ledge for them.

Follow Mac on Twitter @MacCerullo, Matt @McDTwin1 and Colin @McDTwin2.  

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