Andrew Alberg: It’s been a pun-derful ride

By nature, I’m not the sentimental type.

Unlike many reporters, I don’t hang on to mementos of my experiences very long and tend not to get too caught up in the significance of moments. I have a habit of depositing press passes into the nearest trash bin I find and only save hard copies of important stories for the purpose of being able to reproduce them for clips, though I have been guilty of rereading them online from time to time. Still, I think I’m pretty good at moving on from one thing to the next.

With that said, I’m going to miss The Hatchet. A lot.

Each year, graduating editors are given 30 final column inches - called 30 pieces - to reflect on their time at The Hatchet. Browse all.

In preparation for this, my last of more than 150 stories in this paper, I searched our online archives and read about 20 farewell pieces from editors who have come before me. Many of the authors I know well, some I’ve only heard stories about and a few I didn’t even recognize the name.

For four years, I’ve heard about former sports editors like Alan Siegel, Jeff Nelson and Brian Costa, none of whom I’ve ever spoken to for more than a few minutes at most. Part of what makes The Hatchet so special is that their knowledge and know-how have been indirectly passed on from year to year, helping me immensely during my time here.

It is somewhat sobering, however, to know that that group, which was so intricately involved in the paper just a half-decade ago, will be unknown in the Hatchet’s editorial office once I graduate. Now, I’m known as the guy who’s good at making bad jokes, but in a few years I’ll be lucky if anyone’s ever heard my name.

Either way, my name will be forgotten at 2140 G St. long before I’ve forgotten my experiences here. In no particular order, here’s what I’ll miss most:

 I’ll miss traveling to cover the men’s basketball team and all the opportunities that came with it: from postgame photoshoots in an empty Pauley Pavilion after watching the top-ranked team in the country play, to discussing GW’s NCAA Tournament loss to Vanderbilt with Michael Wilbon, to walking along the Charles River on a late fall Boston afternoon, to disappointing Philly cheesesteaks in freezing temperatures to hanging out in the Wizards’ and Nationals’ locker rooms. I even got to take photos one game. For those reasons and dozens more, I really feel that the men’s basketball beat writer is the best job on the paper. Free food (Richmond has the best I’ve had in the A-10, GW has the worst) and front-row seats are hard to beat.

 I’ll miss trying to figure out Karl Hobbs’ substitution patterns and being berated for asking him to explain them. Note to Hobbs: Next year, try treating my successors with respect. You may be surprised with the results.

 I’ll miss hearing endless stories about Red Auerbach from Jack Kvancz, who was always as forthcoming with information as any reporter could hope.

 I’ll miss getting brunch at Ivory Tower with fellow Hatcheteers after Sunday staff meetings.

 I’ll miss the rush of having 20 minutes to write a 15-inch story (or, in the case of the UCLA game, 35 minutes to write two 20-inch stories) and having it somehow turnout OK every time.

 I’ll miss seeing my stories discussed on GWHoops.

 I’ll miss hearing a salacious quote and envisioning the headline on the front page the next day.

 I’ll miss writing ridiculous headlines during late-night production.

 I’ll miss arguing with Roper about whether or not our readers will know what the word “basketball” means or whether we have to explain that it’s a medium-sized, orange bouncy ball.

 I’ll miss the ridiculous sense of humor our staff developed that no one else seems to think is funny.

 I’ll miss having a place to take my GW Deli sandwich when it was too cold and/or inconvenient to eat on the benches.

 I’ll miss explaining to athletes that, all things considered, it’s easier for us if they win and that we don’t actively root for them to lose. At the same time, we’re not cheerleaders either.

 I’ll miss stopping by the office to do one quick thing and leaving four hours later wondering where the time went.

 I’ll miss relying on those around me, knowing they would get the job done (usually).

 I’ll miss seeing people read my stories Monday and Thursday mornings.

 I’ll miss reading my own stories Monday and Thursday mornings.

 Most of all, I’ll miss getting to meet and talk to people I would never get to know otherwise.

The number of blogs that have popped up and disappeared in my four years is a testament to how much of commitment this job can be. Sure, it’s fun to post a story when you have nothing else to do and the news is flowing, but it’s an entirely different beast when you have two school assignments due and nothing of note to fill a page for the next day’s issue. All told, I think I’ve come out ahead in sacrificing a few points on my GPA in return for the experiences I’ve had. I can say without hesitation that I’m proud to have my name associated with both the paper and organization.

I think the 30 or so staff-members on the Hatchet make up the largest, most devoted and talented group of students working together at GW. I can’t individually thank everyone, but I will mention a few people who have influenced me the most during my time here.

 Jake: I may have come here knowing how to write (more than you’d like to admit), but you pushed me hard and, as a result, taught me how to report. I now know to always, always, always make that extra call, no matter how much you’re dreading it. Thanks.

 Joanna: More than anyone, your road at The Hatchet has run closest to parallel with mine. You’re one of the best listeners I’ve ever met – thanks for always letting me vent and caring.

 Dan: Don’t worry about the lack of writers – they’ll show up. Do yourself a favor and put the effort in to write at least one really great story next year. You’re more than capable of it and you’ll be glad you did. You may not notice it, but you’re getting better all the time.

 Byers: Resist the urge to micromanage too much, but make sure everyone stays on top of their jobs. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to be done, but that’s for you to figure out. Seriously, I have no doubt you’ll do the position (and paper) proud.

 B. Solo: If you can make it in this economy, you’ll be able to make it in any.

 Barnett: You made me feel like I was a part of it from the first story I ever wrote. I would have stuck around either way, but you really hooked me. And thanks for the sound advice along the way.

 Roper: Despite us all giving you shit, I know I speak for the rest of the staff when I say I appreciate the time and effort you put into the paper this year. You lived up to expectations.

 Thanks to everyone who ever wrote in to say my story was great or terrible for reminding me that while we may not be The New York Times, people do read and care about us.

I would be remiss not to mention the people who have to put up with me the most. I want to thank my roommates for letting me bounce ideas off them.

I also want to thank Mom, Dad, Jeffrey and Marc for supporting and encouraging me to do this throughout my four years. I know my commitments at the paper inconvenienced you all at one time or another, so I appreciate you letting it slide.

Alex, thank you for tolerating me when I got too excited about a story. You may not have always thought they mattered as much as I did, but I really appreciate you pretending to care.

I’m already over my word count and one thing I’ve learned over the last four years is that no one likes a story that goes on too long – it’s like being “sentenced” to death.

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. –30–

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