Nora Princiotti: Playing for keeps

Media Credit: Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

One of these days a basketball is going to hit me square in the face.

It’s only a matter of time, right? I’ve sat along sidelines for hundreds of passes, shots and plays in my time at The Hatchet, and I’ve covered 73 basketball games in my last two years as sports editor. I’ve never gotten beaned.

I have had some near misses. A few out-of-bounds plays come to mind. One knocked over my coffee during a Diamond Head Classic game junior year.

The closest calls, though, haven’t come courtside. Instead, they’ve come at 2 a.m. on the interstate, driving home from Pennsylvania or Virginia, blasting Stacy’s Mom to drown out the thought of looming deadlines. They’ve come Sunday mornings in budgeting meetings trying to figure out what to put in the paper. They’ve come Sunday nights crunching stats from late games, just trying to get it right and put it all together in time.

When I got hired as The Hatchet’s sports editor, I knew that’s what I was signing up for. What I didn’t know, though, was why I was signing up for it. Not many little girls dream about becoming sports writers when they grow up, and I certainly hadn’t. The Hatchet was supposed to be a hobby, just one of the clubs you join in college. Not something where people depended on me. Not something I cared about that much. Not something where failure, or letting others down, was a real possibility.

That’s the thing about getting close to the action – there’s always the chance you get hit. Before The Hatchet, I’d never found anything that made me want to take that risk. I was always the kid growing up who preferred to watch my cousins play Monopoly because I didn’t want to lose. Even in school, I never really had a favorite subject. If I didn’t do well in a class, I could always just move on to the next thing.

At The Hatchet, though, I realized pretty quickly that I was playing for keeps. This job becomes your identity and how well you do it starts to feel very personal. You realize that if you do get hit, it’s going to hurt.

Luckily, we’ve had a pretty good run at Hatchet Sports these last couple of years. Now, though, as I leave, I’m bracing for impact.

This job has taught me who I am and what I want to do, but now I have to go be and do those things without it. It hasn’t really hit me yet, but I know it will soon.

It’ll hit me square in the face like a big, orange basketball.

Media Credit: Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Traynor: I’ve got to start at the beginning, right? I remember getting an email from you once freshman year where you told me that a story I’d written was really good, “for a freshman.” You were trying to be nice, but I’m so competitive that it just made me pissed and want to work harder. So, thanks, I guess? That said, you’re a legendary figure to me. Getting to follow in your footsteps always made me feel like I belonged in this job. It’s why I look up to you and part of why I’ve loved getting to know you outside of The Hatchet. You’re also someone I know I can cause more trouble with in two hours in a bar than most other people, which is also awesome.

Cory: You were sort of the last editor I interacted with before I realized that we’re all a bunch of crazy kids just trying not to mess up too badly, and I feel like that deserves a shoutout. Stop trolling the HatchetSports Twitter.

Sarah Ferris: See above, except you’re my biggest fan on Twitter, which I appreciate. Your dedication to The Hatchet stuck with me, and I’m constantly impressed with your hard work and brilliance. Also, you’re a really good hang and I’m glad we’ve gotten to know each other better!

Nick Rice: Dude. You freaking rock. There are many perks to knowing Chloé, but getting to know you has been one of the best. Not even Charlie can detract from it. Let’s party.

Nick Ong: Thanks for believing in me and for putting me on the women’s basketball beat my sophomore year. I hadn’t realized I was ready for it until you told me so. Seeing you chase the things you really care about, even when they took you away from The Hatchet, was an example I needed to see.

Brianna: I had a pretty steep learning curve when you were EIC, and you always found a way to make me feel like you’d shield me from my own inexperience while I figured it out, and you still took me seriously. I was totally spoiled by that, and I’ll always owe you for it. Your willingness to sacrifice for The Hatchet is unmatched.

Cam: You were one of my original road trip companions and I’m happy to be able to say there were many more that followed. I feel like old journalism stories are full of epic reporter-photographer tandems and I think ours was one for the books. The quality of your photos always pushed me to make my stories better. I’ve missed having you around this year and will happily challenge you to a shotgunning rematch at any time.

Mel: I know you didn’t want a little who was on The Hatchet, but you’ve seen enough romcoms to know that that’s when you know it’s going to work out. We share journalism and Pi Phi as well as our love of New England, country music, coffee and pastels, but it’s the moments when we differ that you’ve impressed me the most. Not all of our priorities are the same, but I can always count on you to have yours straight. I’m so happy that we’ve been able to rely on each other while trying to handle the pressures of our multiple friend groups – I really don’t know how we would have managed otherwise! You’re the best big I could possibly ask for. Not having you around is going to be one of the hardest things about leaving this city.

Chloé: For one person who I’m not related to, you’ve had an incredibly tangible impact on my life. I might have quit The Hatchet if you hadn’t asked me to have lunch with you that summer in New York, and if I’d done that I’d have missed out on one of my closest friends. We don’t need to revisit that fateful night at Yankee Stadium, but I secretly loved it because I felt like, for once, I could do something for you instead of the other way around. Thanks for being my Tiger Friend, for Sharpay-ing in the bathroom with me and for including me with the Squad for our Richmond bender. The townhouse hasn’t been the same for me without you and Mel, but I’m so glad that our friendship hasn’t skipped a beat. Also, I realized today that apparently everyone else has been working on writing their 30s for like a month? As always, I took after you.

To the rest of Vol. 111: Working with all of you was my first seat at the grownups table, and it was a pure treat. I’m so proud of everything we did together. Justin and Robin: I found a voice in Ed Board because of you two nuts.

Media Credit: Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Eva, Jacqueline and Jeanine: I wish we had an excuse to work together more closely because I feel like you guys are kindred spirits. Keep up the good work.

Sarah Blugis: My two favorite things about you are the strength of your convictions and the strength of your jokes. You’ve been an incredible leader in Ed Board and Ops has flourished under your direction. Thanks for being so on top of things, it probably meant I got in trouble less. Good luck with PumpkinNook.

Sam LaFrance: When the likes of Mel and Chloé graduated, I thought a lot about who I would look forward to seeing in the townhouse on Sundays this year. The answer to my prayers came in the form of a Zayn-loving, coffee-slinging badass – that would be you. I never would have expected that, after a Kanye tweet or a juicy Bachelor development the first thing I’d think would be “I need to know what Sam thinks about this.” Thanks for finding the perfect font for the Basketball Guide and for making our paper look pretty bangin’ this year. Also, for anyone reading this, Sam and I did a podcast about The Bachelor and it’s on SoundCloud and you should listen to it.

Blair: I’m glad you asked me to get a bagel the morning after Hatchet Prom two years ago. So many people on staff took me under their wings and I hope I did the same for you, even though you don’t really need it. Let’s watch Clueless soon.

Colleen: The way you’ve led this paper for the past year has been so impressive, but I can’t say I’m surprised. Your spirit and love of reporting made everyone’s jobs more fun, which I’m all about, obviously. I don’t know how you’ve done it so seamlessly, but you can tell me about it when we finally get sushi.

Zach: Editors have run out of metaphors for how essential you are to The Hatchet. Your dedication sometimes makes me feel bad for the delicate balance of flaky and demanding that constitutes my personality, but then I remember how much you love the Mets so at least I know I can’t let you down that badly. Sorry you know so much about my personal life. Actually, I take that back, and don’t expect to stop hearing about it after graduation.

Mark and Dan: I’m pretty sure that when I look back on college, the first thing I’m going to think of is you two doofuses. I know you think I’m not capable of showing emotion, but just trust that I care about you both more than you cared about that Wawa on the way back from Davidson. You’re going to make a great team together with Matt next year. Don’t kick me out of the group text. Dan: You’re an incredible photographer, a dedicated editor and an even better guy. I don’t know how you’re able to drive me crazy and keep me sane at the same time. Mark: We’ve learned so much about each other, and not just that Metamorphosis by Hilary Duff was both of our first album. You jumped on board for a pretty crazy ride and I’m positive I couldn’t have had a better partner for it. I’m so impressed by how polished your writing has become and by the thoughtful editor that you are. I’m so, so proud of you.

The rest of Vol. 112: At the end of last year, when several of the giants of my Hatchet career graduated with Vol. 111, I wasn’t sure this place could ever be the same. Then you all came in with smarts, grace and poise and created issue after issue that we could all be proud of. Brandon: You might be the only person on staff who is louder than me. The third floor was never quiet, though, and even if I drown you out with my headphones, sometimes I admire your sass. Ellie: Good luck next year. You don’t need it.

Pi Phi: I wasn’t around as much as I would have liked, but thank you for being the most amazing place to come home to. Emma, Alex, Shannon, Sam and Maddie: You guys have always been so enthusiastic and supportive that I can’t tell if you’re just faking it really well or if you actually care about the basketball team. Either way, I’ll take it and say thank you. I’m so lucky to have you guys as friends.

All my other friends: Thanks for putting up with me when all I could talk about was The Hatchet, and thanks for having way more interesting things to talk about afterwards. Alex, Ben, Eliana, Ed, Alex, Katie and Sammy: I’m trying to figure out how to put what your friendships mean to me into words, and I can’t, which is generally a bad sign in my chosen profession. You’re the most brilliant, hilarious, fun, hardworking group of people, so I guess I’ll just say thanks for letting me tag along. Sammy, thanks for being my best friend. I can’t say it any better than that.

All the athletes I’ve covered: Thanks for having such great stories to tell and for always answering my questions. I confess to finger-dancing under the press table to the fight song.

Mom and Dad: They say kids rebel against their parents, but here I am going after a dying profession in writing, so I’m not sure I’m doing a very good job. I’m proud of what I’ve done in college, but I couldn’t have done any of it without your support. I love you.

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