Letter to Sidelines: Thanks for the memories

Photo courtesy of Sidelines Archives

Exactly one year ago, I showed up at Middle Tennessee State University as a junior that wasn’t exactly sure what he was getting into. After spending most of 2016 as a rookie fireman, I quickly realized that my 300-pound frame wasn’t exactly built to withstand the physical requirements of the job.

I hated school. From the day I walked onto the playground in kindergarten to the day I angrily finished out my degree at Motlow State Community College, I just didn’t want to be there. I felt I didn’t have a place.

Sports was always the outlet that got me through my childhood years. As a 12-year-old, I can remember spouting off facts about baseball and people asking, “Why do you have so much useless information in your head?”

I never really knew, but I shrugged it off and continued on with life. I was satisfied with hanging out with the few sport-loving nerds I had in life.

Shortly after arriving on campus, I can remember sitting in Rhyne Piggott’s Digital Media Skills class. All people talked about was joining a student media outlet, so I decided to put a feeler out to MT10, WMTS and Sidelines all at the same time.

Having no idea I was just a few seats away from Tyler Lamb (the sports editor at the time) earlier that day in class, I heard back from him first and decided to run with it.

After being accepted as a sports reporter, I had absolutely no idea what I just got myself into.

Nearly a year ago to date, I walked into the Center for Innovation in Media to begin work on my first story, and I immediately fell in love with it. I wanted to spend my Sunday afternoons soaking in a game at Reese Smith Jr. Field, and relished the opportunities to tell the stories of some of Murfreesboro’s favorite sons and daughters.

All of the different sports I covered were great, but the help I’ve received along the way was even better.

I’ve been blessed to have so many teachers and peers who have taken a genuine interest in helping me become better at what I do, and I’ve been even more blessed to share that knowledge with others and pass it along to them.

Thank you for taking me under your wing last spring, Tyler. You took the time to sit with a new writer and pass some of your amazing talent on to me. The many nights spent in the press box with you combing over an AP Stylebook taught me the persistence and diligence that is needed to succeed in this field.

When Tyler moved on and Rusty Ellis took over as sports editor, I realized how many new writers were coming aboard last fall and was excited when he trusted me to help.

Although you turned to me for help, it was you who was helping me all along, Rusty. You taught me leadership skills and helped make me become a more well-rounded writer by throwing me to the wolves and making damn sure that I didn’t get eaten.

I never believed I could juggle a full-time job, school and a daily content load, but I did. Because you believed in me and pushed me to try new things, I’ve become more well-rounded.

Among the wolves, I realized quickly I wasn’t alone.

Tim Carroll, your maturity and willingness to listen while we both contemplated some tough life choices is something I know I can always trust you with.

Calvin Smith, your vast knowledge of the entire sports world taught me that you must truly be a student of the game in order to be successful.

David Chamberlain, your mastery of all the things you need to succeed in this industry has inspired me to better myself in areas that I’m weak.

Elijah Campbell, your wit and sense of humor helped teach me to remember to stay calm in times of anxiety. After all, you’re watching sports and writing about it.

David Janes, those frigid nights out filming highlights at Oakland High School showed me how to capture some good video.

Devin Grimes, you stepped up and went to bat for me in times where I was in need.

Andrew Brown, I’ll never forget getting to share the experience of my first bowl game with you, even if the Best Western had crappy wi-fi.

Maddy Zygadlo, your willingness to soak up information and progress after the conversations we’ve had has taught me how to be a better teacher.

Logan Ward and Joi Williams, I know I haven’t been able to spend a lot of time with you, but you both are extremely talented individuals and watching your respective talents grow will be a pleasure.

To all of you on the editorial board who have had to stay up at 1:00 a.m. editing my work, thank you for taking the time to do so. It may go unnoticed by a lot of people, but this whole thing wouldn’t be possible without you.

All this being said, all of you have played a part in helping me take a step off the ground and onto the ladder. Working as a feature writer for MT Athletics is going to be both challenging and rewarding, and I am looking forward to the opportunity.

To all of you at Sidelines, past and present, thank you so much for all of the memories and friendships. Having these connections with all of you is something I truly cherish, and I look forward to watching all of you succeed.

Follow MTSU sports reporter Anthony Fiorella on Twitter at @A_Fiorella74 for more coverage.

To contact Sports Editor Rusty Ellis (@RustyEllis13), email sports@mtsusidelines.com.

For more sports stories, follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter and Periscope at @Sidelines_Sport.

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