Do it for the story
College is for exploration, so don’t be afraid to take risks
Right at the beginning of my final semester at UB, I found out former UFC Champion Chris Weidman would be speaking in Buffalo. He was promoting legalization of MMA in New York State.
UFC is my favorite promotion in the rising sport of MMA and having the opportunity to interview a champion and executives could be career changing.
Soon after the email was sent out, I reached out for a media pass, secured my spot at the event and spent two hours speaking on and off with some of the best in the business.
Had this interaction happened even two years ago, I would have thought about the opportunity over and over again, just to disappoint myself by turning down the offer. I would have convinced myself I wasn’t a good enough journalist to even think about covering an event with the UFC chief operating officer as a keynote speaker.
And here I am now, writing my final column for The Spectrum, the publication that allowed me to interview thousands of people for hundreds of stories, a handful of whom are household names.
Limiting yourself will get you nowhere. Hiding behind a mask because you’re uncertain of the result is no way to live life, especially in college, where the entire four-year stretch is nothing but a learning experience. Take risks. Tell stories. Make your experiences here at UB worthwhile to remember them years down the road.
Possibly the best way to tell my college story begins at the second semester of sophomore year.
Hardly ever in my life have I told myself, “I need to do something with my life,” but I had to say those exact words in the fall of 2013. I only took two days worth of classes during the week. The rest of the time was spent day drinking at my South Campus home and sleeping in until 1 p.m. It was time for a change.
And it also came the next semester the moment I entered Baldy 101, my first-ever Spectrum class.
Two-and-a-half years later, I write my final column for this paper with hundreds of stories in mind, like the countless hours I spent playing NBA Showtime, the amount of all-nighters I pulled in the office, to the places I was able to visit.
As a graduating senior, I’ve been able to reflect on the places I’ve visited, events I’ve covered since I assumed my position as senior sports editor, and embrace them with a different perspective than ever before. It’s rare for a college journalist to cover an NCAA Tournament, a UFC conference, a Donald Trump rally and a Kevin Spacey speech, to name a few, in the same calendar year. I’ve interviewed close to 50 celebrities in my tenure at The Spectrum.
Unbelievably, I promised myself in that first Spectrum class I would, one day, interview Khalil Mack and Branden Oliver. I now have both of them in my phonebook.
Over the past two-and-a-half years, like every successful journalist, I’ve learned to tell stories. It’s taken this long, however, to figure out how to tell mine. The Spectrum did much more for this lost soul than ever imaginable. The amount of times I would complain to my roommates about quitting, only to show up for 11 a.m. budget the next day, is unfathomable.
Maybe I knew I couldn’t leave The Spectrum. It slowly became a second home in college (yes, I’ve slept on the office couches more times than many would think). For all the times I would edit a story during a pregame or wake up hungover before a Sunday production day, I always knew in the back of my head The Spectrum was where I wanted to be. I wanted that next great story more than I needed a Gatorade those mornings.
Every great story has to come to an end. And I know my story wouldn’t be complete without a charismatic cast. Tom Dinki, my senior editor when I was the assistant on sports desk, I thank you. The amount of times you’ve bailed me out is unprecedented, and I thank you for pushing me to learn types of writing other than sports. My arts and features crew, Tori Roseman, Brian Windschitl, Kenneth Kashif Thomas and Tomas Olivier, thank you for always making production that much easier. I’ll miss our Super Smash Bros. games next year. Quentin Haynes, my right-hand man, it’s been a pleasure to work side by side with you for the past year and a half. Marlee Tuskes, even though you came on to the scene late, it’s incredible how quickly you’ve made The Spectrum your family, like I did. And to Kainan Guo, the hardest worker in the office, unanimously voted by the entire staff. Keep that work ethic up and the sky’s the limit.
Gabi, the paper is in incredible hands next year. Keep doing what you do and never let UB Athletics push you around. They don’t know who they’re dealing with. Alyssa, the unsung hero of the office, keep doing big things at Notre Dame Law School. Thank you, from one devoted senior to another.
And lastly, I thank everyone who’s ever taken an interview with me, read over my stories and criticized my writing. You may not know it, but you helped create a journalist, not just a college journalist. I leave UB with a passion for writing and stories to tell. My last piece of advice for anyone in college: enjoy your precious college years, take risks and do it for the story.
Jordan Grossman is the senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.