The Cavalier Daily
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PARTING SHOT: What a challenge, but what fun

I have been trying to write this column for a long time. It’s just that now I’m putting words on paper.

At least I’m not pushing the deadline. Lord knows I’ve done that.

In my lower moments, I wondered what I could say in this column, and I wondered whether I should even write a parting shot. It’s what we learn when we’re young, though we don’t always abide: If you don’t have something kind to say, keep your mouth closed.

But at other times, I could hardly wait for this day, because the newspaper had me feeling whole.

Writing for The Cavalier Daily will do that you — whip you back and forth. I guess anything will, if you care enough.

I always cared. I couldn’t not care — for a variety of reasons, some of them run-of-the-mill. In the end, I couldn’t not care because at The Cavalier Daily I became more than I’d been.

I know that’s true, but what it means has been harder to pin down.

The Cavalier Daily was many things for me. It was my outlet — what I did when I wasn’t studying. It was a place where I met new people, some of whom became important to me. It was a newspaper, and I’d wanted to write for a newspaper since I was maybe 10 years old. The Cavalier Daily reeled me in my first semester of college and, for better or worse, I never got off the hook.

At information sessions and open houses, my co-editors and I sold the Sports section with this pitch: Write for us and you might one day interview Malcolm Brogdon, sit in on a Tony Bennett press conference or watch Virginia baseball from the press box at Davenport Field. I could say those things because they happened to me — I asked Brogdon a question during a post-game interview, and if I hadn’t been so shy I could’ve asked him a whole lot more.

But writing for the Sports section and working for this paper is not really about those things. We misled at our information sessions and open houses, though we meant only to persuade.

If I had told a prospective Sports writer why he or she should join The Cavalier Daily — if I had told him or her as truthfully as I could — I would’ve said that at the newspaper you learn, learn and learn. Sometimes you will work more than 20 hours in a week, your classes will suffer and you will walk around tired. In those moments you will ask yourself: Why am I doing this?

But then you will meet a new writer who can’t wait to get started, and his or her enthusiasm will remind you that what we do is cool and that it is also fun. You will write an article that you actually like, and you will visit The Cavalier Daily website again and again, throughout the day, because there it is, up online where your parents and friends may read it. Or you will play basketball with your editor at the AFC, and you will know that at The Cavalier Daily, you can also make friends.

My year as co-Sports editor was the busiest of my life, and now, in my final semester at the University, I wouldn’t go back — I have more free time now, and less responsibility, and I certainly write fewer emails. But I also wouldn’t rewind to last February and — in light of what I know now — decide against taking the position.

That’s because serving as Sports editor pushed me, valuably so. Quiet by nature, as an editor I had to speak — in meetings, over email and at those info sessions. I had to be, as best I could, what my former editors had been for me. I had to be like them because they’d been vital to me, starting at this university, and I would’ve felt I’d failed had I not at least tried to measure up.

I’m running out of words after who knows how many articles, some better than others, but before I close I’ve got to say thank you to the people who’ve meant the most to me at this paper.

Daniel Weltz, thank you for helping me to believe in myself and for always being available. You were the editor I wanted to be, and you were one heck of a writer.

Zack Bartee, Peter Nance, Ryan Taylor, Robert Elder and Matt Wurzburger: Thank you for making my two years as part of the Sports editing team a joy despite all the hard work. I’m glad to have known each and every one of you.

Fritz Metzinger, thank you for writing Sports columns that could’ve been published anywhere — they were that good — and for pushing us all in the process.

And Ashley Robertson, you are long gone now, but thank you for giving me a ride to my first Cavalier Daily interviews, with the women’s tennis team when I was a fall-semester first-year, and for making me feel welcomed at The Cavalier Daily thereby.

I’ve never forgotten that day and won’t forget it soon.

Matthew Morris was the 126th Sports Editor for The Cavalier Daily