Editor’s Note: Views expressed in guest columns and letters to the editor reflect the views of the author, not the views of The State News.
As I stared out at MSU’s campus stretched beyond the east side of Spartan Stadium from my familiar seat in the Spartan Stadium press box, it hit me.
I had just filed my last story from that venue and sat there reflecting on my last semester at MSU, soaking it all in so long I half expected the house lights to come on and Jerry Sprague to begin strumming the chords to Semisonic’s “Closing Time.”
And while I thought about how fortunate I was to have spent the past four months doing my dream job, it struck me that as much as I loved getting paid to watch football every Saturday, it wasn’t even the best part of my job.
What I found was that in reality, the best part about being the football reporter for The State News wasn’t the opportunity to cover the MSU football team, to travel to special events or to beef up my résumé — but to be able to walk through the doors of the newsroom every Sunday through Thursday and be surrounded by family.
I might one day forget the adrenaline rush that came with filing a story 60 seconds after the “dead in the water” Spartans completed an improbable overtime upset in Camp Randall Stadium, then sprinting down to the postgame press conference — dodging throngs of Badger fans along the way — and bursting through the door just in time to hear Max Bullough reassure the media, “We’re a team. We’re in this together.”
But I know for a fact I’ll always remember working on a sports page with our designers for six-straight hours on a Monday night, highlighted by the occasional sing-a-long to REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling.”
I’ve already forgotten the review I wrote after Childish Gambino’s concert at MSU Auditorium this past spring. I won’t forget who I covered it with and how that friend has become one of my closest since.
I couldn’t tell you what Draymond Green felt after he was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in June. But I can tell you that the feeling of driving back from Saginaw, Mich., at 3 a.m., knowing I’d just covered one of the biggest moments in Draymond’s life with two of my best friends was one of the most rewarding.
I’ve learned a lot about family in the past year and a half. I’ve seen how members grow and adapt, fight, make up, become stronger and work together to achieve one goal. And more importantly, I’ve learned how to work as a cog in that machine, doing my part for the good of the whole.
I’ve been incredibly lucky to have the best job in the world this past semester; I’ll always be the first person to admit that. Having the opportunity to work around the sport of football every day was like a dream to me, and I hope one day I have that chance again.
It’s been an incredible ride. Under the State News masthead, I’ve produced a handful of stories and columns on which I’m proud to put my byline. But in the end, what I’m most proud of is seeing my co-workers grow beside me — graduating from interns into beat reporters, into editors. I don’t ever remember being happier for anyone than I was when one of those interns I’d known from the start joined the sports desk this fall to do the job she’d wanted to from the beginning.
I used to look at The State News with reverence. I thought about how great it would be to see my name in print, to one day pick up a paper and see my own work published.
The first time I saw my byline, the feeling was like no other.
But now as I prepare to pick up a copy of The State News and see my name in it for the last time, I’ve found the prestige isn’t really that important to me anymore.
Because in the end, it’s not what you put on the page, but what you put into it that matters.
Jesse O’Brien is a football reporter at The State News and a journalism senior. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.