Emily Maise: Exceeding expectations

Media Credit: Courtesy of Auston Maise

Each year, graduating editors are given 30 final column inches – “30” was historically used to signify the end of a story – to reflect on their time at The Hatchet, published in the final issues of the year.

A month ago I parked myself at my desk in my childhood bedroom to cover men’s basketball’s second round Atlantic 10 tournament game. Situated more than 800 miles from the hardwood in the Robins Center, I watched from a screen as the Colonials closed out their season.

I wouldn’t get the chance to rush from the court to the postgame press conference or jockey for the microphone to ask a question scribbled down on my notepad. Instead, I raised my virtual hand, spoke into my computer, and when I clicked out of the session, it almost didn’t feel real that my two-year-long beat had just ended.

After a spring season cut short, a fall without sports and the last year and a half of my college career online and away from Foggy Bottom, I learned that life doesn’t always meet your expectations. Sometimes it exceeds them, and my time at The Hatchet became the unexpected crown jewel of my three years at GW.

With zero journalism experience, I joined the paper my freshman year to continue my newfound love of writing. I expected to take a couple stories here and there, focus on my classes and graduate without becoming too invested. But boy was I wrong.

After taking on men’s and women’s squash as a beat in January, I was hooked. I would spend my weekends at the Matthew J. Grossman Squash Courts learning about a sport from the people who knew it best and capturing their matches and seasons with words.

I joined staff later that year as sports editor and found myself in the driver’s seat of a section I became a member of just eight months prior. I played team sports growing up because I didn’t want to be solely responsible if things went right or wrong, and now all eyes were on me to make sure my section didn’t just stay afloat but covered the intricacies of 27 sports.

Sometimes it did feel like I was barely able to keep my head above water. I never anticipated being tasked to re-imagine what a sports section looked like without the sports. But it was a necessary and welcomed challenge that led to some of our most important stories during my tenure.

I couldn’t have done it without a talented and dedicated group of people around me. I’ve met some of the most skilled writers, hardest workers and most creative minds inside the walls of 609 21st St. I’m grateful to have shared the last three years with you all.

I never expected to love my time at The Hatchet so much. I never expected to take in the Potomac River with sailing and learn firsthand how airplanes flying out from Ronald Reagan Airport affected the water. I never expected to watch the sunrise after nights of editing stories for two basketball season previews. I never expected to take a road trip to Richmond with my friends, meet chinchillas and write a game blog that earned me Associated Collegiate Press recognition.

I didn’t see it coming, but The Hatchet pushed me outside my comfort zone, introduced me to the hardest working bunch around and gave me my best memories at GW. I would do it all again in a heartbeat and wouldn’t change a thing.

To the devoted people who made it possible:

Sarah: I couldn’t have done this job without you. Really, you reviewed almost every media relations email and text I ever sent. Even though I had minimal experience, you brought me on The Hatchet and pushed me to be a better writer and editor. I’ve learned more here than I have in any classroom, and you were a monumental part of that. Thank you for putting sports on the front page and humoring me every time I requested it. I told myself I would only sign on for another year as sports editor if I could work for you again, which is a testament to your leadership and how much fun it’s been to work for you. Your hard work has left a mark on this paper for the better, and I was blessed to be a part of it. I can’t wait to see all of the great things you’ll do!

Hatchet Sports: We were a small but mighty team. I am so proud of the work we’ve been able to put out these last two years. You all have shown amazing resilience to continue keeping up with Hatchet Sports despite being remote and tackling all of the challenges of the pandemic. You can teach someone how to write and report, but you can’t teach someone to care. You all have shown immense care in your researching, reporting and writing, and I look forward to reading your bylines here and beyond. Alec: I always loved when you wrote stories because it meant I didn’t really have to edit them. Growing up on The Hatchet with you has been fun, and you’ve really knocked it out of the park with the podcast. Thank you for sticking with the sports section these last few years, and I can’t wait to see the top-tier work you’ll do in the future. Will: I was counting down the days until you got back from your semester abroad. The consistency and quality of your writing has elevated our section for years, and it’s been a pleasure to read your words. Thank you for turning my vague pitches into wonderful stories.

Roman and Nuria: It has been a pure joy to watch you two grow into the strong reporters you are today. I’ve been constantly impressed with your dedication, willingness to learn and your ability to jump in head first to cover new sports and take on difficult stories. I know you two will continue to make this section (AKA my child) better, and I look forward to reading all about it. I’ll always be in your corners and will continue to celebrate your successes.

Barbara: Thank you for getting me ready for this gig. I wouldn’t have applied for a staff position if it wasn’t for your encouragement, so thank you for pushing me into one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. You led the sports section with strength and tact, and I always admired your ability to make people feel welcome. Aside from your unmatchable leadership qualities, you were the model writer and editor I wanted to emulate. I sure had big shoes to fill.

Lizzie: I couldn’t think of a more upbeat and welcoming person on staff. You have worn many hats here at The Hatchet, and you’ve handled each position wonderfully. I was excited to see you come back on staff at the copy desk, and to no one’s surprise, you’ve elevated it to another level and absolutely crushed it. Thank you for always supporting me and the sports section. I could always count on you to boost my ego a bit, pitch us a couple stories and help the sports section learn how to follow style guidelines. You are one of the best journalists I know, and it’s been a pleasure to learn from you and get to know you.

The Volume 116 and Volume 117 Copy Desks (Kelly, Natalie, Lizzie and Ed): You all were the unsung heroes of the paper. You take the extra time to perfect stories, inform us with up-to-date style changes and keep me in check when my style starts to dip. I’m sorry sports lagged behind in the copy category, but I hope we made up for it with a couple interesting stories. We would be nothing without you all.

The people that helped bring our stories to life: I say it every hot seat, but the work you all do amazes me. I have no idea how you captured players mid-jump or racing in the pool with such clarity. Aside from sports, you all have worked on such important projects during the pandemic, and I’m glad the photo tab was added to the website to highlight your excellence. Arielle: You were one of my first friends on The Hatchet, and I’m glad we sat next to each other at that one event years ago. Between Sundays in the townhouse, writing stories around your photos and traveling to Richmond, it has been a blast getting to know you and working with you. After photographing the Super Bowl, you only have big things in your future. Lillian: Thank you for stepping in to take over as the sports photo editor. You were on top of it from the get-go, and you’ve taken the section to new heights as head photo editor. I look forward to seeing your work in national publications. Sabrina: It has been a wild year, and I’m sorry you weren’t able to go to some games. But you’ve risen to the challenge time and time again, and I look forward to seeing all of the tremendous photos you’ll take.

Arielle Bader | Assistant Photo Editor

The Design Queens: Our two basketball guides would be substantially worse if it weren’t for your creativity and pure mental fortitude to do more than 15 cut-outs (even if it would later be disrespected when it went to print). Olivia D: Thank you for slowly bringing me out of my shell and welcoming me into the basement gang. Even though you hazed me when I first cut my page (I still cringe when I think of the black box), your food discourse always created a heated debate that got us chatting. You were a sweet presence in the basement, and the design section will forever be better because of you. Olivia C: It has been a pleasure getting to know you for two years on ed board and during late nights in the townhouse. Your insight, confidence and humor made our meetings fly by because we were having so much fun. You were instrumental in making our last two basketball guides (and every edition) beautiful, and your eye for detail blows me away. You’ve innovated the design section, and I look forward to watching you excel in whatever you tackle next.

Heidi and Dante: Spending hours in the townhouse every Sunday was easier when I could turn around and chat with you two. We may have been stuck in the worst part of the basement, but you two brightened up the space. I’ll always remember laughing with you before staff meetings and walking back to campus together from Hatchet events late at night. You two have revolutionized the video section, and I was lucky to witness you two work your videography magic. I am grateful to have worked with you, and I know you have big things ahead!

Kiran: You never fail to make us laugh at ed board meetings, and you always come in with a well-thought-out take that pushes us to form a stronger opinion. You never lack a story or quotable moment, and spending time with you is never boring. You’ve been such a big part of this paper these last four years, and I’m happy I’ve gotten the chance to see you in action and read your opinions, especially about the business school, in real time. Your future is bright.

Hannah: You were also one of my first friends on The Hatchet. Thank you for taking me under your wing at Hatchet events and chipping away at my awkwardness. You’ve led the opinions section with grace, confidence and poise, while also drawing outstanding cartoons (particularly your final cartoon). Your pieces have been some of the best in the last three years, and I know you’ll carry on that work ethic and moxie into your new role as managing director. You deserve every ounce of success you’ve received, and I know you’ll continue to make big moves at The Post!

Andrew: I thought about whipping out the thesaurus for your thank you but decided to leave the vocab words to the person who knows them best. I’ve enjoyed hearing your thoughtful comments at ed board meetings and reading your pieces. I know you are going to make a fantastic opinions editor.

Volume 116 Editorial Board: I spent my last night in the townhouse with you guys, going back-and-forth until all hours of the morning about who to endorse for the Student Association elections. I didn’t realize that would be the last time I’d see any of you or the townhouse in person again. Thank you for welcoming me on staff and helping me find a voice in meetings. I was on the fence about joining ed board, but it was one of the Hatchet responsibilities I looked forward to the most every week.

Volume 117 Editorial Board: Even though we never met in person, I enjoyed logging into Zoom and hashing out pieces with you all. Year two on ed board did not disappoint. Between side conversations in the chat, keeping up with each other’s lives or having to defend sports multiple times this year, thank you all for another fun year of pushing me to think outside the box.

Parth: Despite repeated attempts to attack my section, I’ve enjoyed our “rivalry” and banter the past couple of years. You may claim to not care about sports, but you always seem to have a lot to say about us. If the sports section ever needs somewhere to stay, I know there will always be rent-free space in your head. Let the record show that my squad demolished your team’s feeble attempt at the Volume 116 Hatchet Kickball Game, and any alternative retelling of that day’s events is factually inaccurate. All jokes aside, your dedication to The Hatchet is unmatched, and your quick wit lightened the mood and never failed to make me laugh. You made not just the paper better but everyone you worked with better. It’s been fun.

Lia: You are going to make a phenomenal editor in chief. You’ve excelled at every beat you’ve tackled in the news section, and I wish our sports-news crossover would have panned out. But your work ethic and good-natured personality will make you a perfect fit to lead Volume 118. I look forward to seeing where you take The Hatchet.

To the rest of the Volume 116 and Volume 117 staffs: I could go on for ages writing thank you’s to everyone that’s impacted my time at The Hatchet and made it a better place. Thank you for putting in the hours and hours of work to keep the news flowing. Thank you for welcoming me with open arms and creating a place I don’t want to leave. The paper is only as good as the people behind it, and you all have made it great.

Student-athletes and coaches: I always end interviews with, “Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. I really appreciate it.” I always did. Thank you for letting me see behind the curtain and learn a little more about athletics from you all. Whether it was postgame, after practice or more recently through a computer screen, thank you for answering my questions and letting me write about such a big part of your lives.

My non-Hatchet friends (Katie, Klara and Tolu): A girl couldn’t ask for better friends and roommates, even if we only lived together for a couple months. Whether it was rearranging plans around my Hatchet schedule or checking in when I would disappear for hours on Sundays, you three made the good days longer and bad days shorter. There may or may not have been a brief campaign to get me to quit, but you always listened to me talk about GW sports and read a story or two in support. I wouldn’t want to visit the “White House” on Virginia Ave., plot to purchase an absurd number of guinea hens or decorate for Christmas the second the calendar switches to November with anyone else.

My family (Mom, Dad, Auston and Aly): My school-Hatchet balance may have tipped toward the latter more often than you would have liked, but I’m glad you guys came around to see how much I really loved this place. Thank you for keeping up with Hatchet Sports, even if you just read the headlines or signed up for the newsletter. I always knew you were behind me, ready to help me get back up if I fell down and lifted me even higher in my successes.

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