Letter From the (Future) Editor: The Significance of April 6th

A year ago today, on April 6, 2015, things were a lot different.

For one thing, the Wisconsin Badgers were playing for a national championship.

For another, I was a freshman at UW-Madison still in awe of everything the school offered. The magic of Madison hadn’t worn off on me even this late into my second semester at school. Every time I walked down State Street or up Bascom Hill, I still felt the history and significance of the school beat down upon me in such a beautiful way.

Any half-decent Badger fan knows how that night ended – in disappointment. After a magical run to a second straight Final Four, Wisconsin’s luck ran out in the form of Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor and a swath of other current NBA players who swiped a national championship from the best college town on earth. After dejectedly leaving the Nitty Gritty with my friends, I arrived home to Sellery Hall at 1:30 a.m., but I couldn’t go to sleep.

Instead, I sat down at the alcove I had built under my lofted bed in one of the oldest dorms on campus and wrote.

I wrote about the majesty of the school – how one loss didn’t define us, but the moments on campus, shared with friends, faculty and Madisonians alike, were what made our short time here on campus special. I wrote about the players, the place, and the feeling of March and early April in Madison.

Turns out, some people liked hearing about that.

When I committed to the University of Wisconsin-Madison on April 6, 2014, things were a lot different, too.

I had applied essentially on a whim. My dream was to go to Northwestern University, a school with many great programs and a short drive from my home. But when I was rejected there, Madison felt right. Across the board, every major I was considering had great professors and great reviews online.

The first few months on campus for me were exploratory. I didn’t know what I wanted to major in, but I found solace in writing. For the first time in my life, it seemed like people actually cared about what I had to say. I started writing satire for an on campus newspaper, and finally began to fill out my application for the world-renowned School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Just about a week before the Badgers were set to take on Duke in the national championship last year, my friend and fraternity brother Zach Rosen approached me with an idea: he wanted to take his personal sports blog and expand it into a platform for student journalism in the area of Wisconsin sports. Over the next week, he gathered writers – mainly those he knew from home and school – into a team of about 15 people.

On, April 2, the site launched. None of us had written professionally before. None of us were in any kind of journalism program at the time (though many of us are now). We were a bunch of Sconnies, writing about the teams and programs we were passionate about, with little knowledge and foresight for who we were or what we wanted to become.

Then April 6 came. My late-night reflection on the game, a tired attempt at coping with a devastating loss, ended up doing pretty well. With over 2,000 shares on Facebook, countless “likes” and page reads, we were already experiencing success in our first week. From the morning of the 7 through the rest of the week, I woke to texts from friends that said I had made their parents cry reading the article; people who had lived in Madison their whole lives were commenting that they had never read something so accurate; even friends of my parents who didn’t know me were telling them how much they loved it.

I’m no expert in journalism. By all accounts, I’m a rookie. My first published piece for anything came out just over a year ago, in February of 2015. But in my experience, that reaction is exactly what journalism is.

Sports reporting is not about the numbers. Journalism is not about news alone. It’s about emotions. It’s about the passion, places and people that make an event, tragedy, or any other kind of story worth reading. That night, the story wasn’t about the loss. It was about the storied past of an amazing college town that made watching and preparing for that game so significant. It was about something more than words can describe.

In my article, I talked about how in the few seconds after the game ended, the crowded bar where we had been watching fell totally silent, followed by the Arctic Monkeys’ “R U Mine?” rising to a din over our bewildered expressions. That image was so poignant that a year later, my brother, four years my junior, knew to play exactly that song in our hotel room in Elkhart Lake, WI when the Badgers were bounced in the Sweet 16.

In a couple of short weeks, Zach Rosen, founder and current editor-in-chief of Sconnie Sports Talk, will be graduating and moving on to the Milwaukee Brewers and Major League Baseball’s Advanced Media. He’ll leave the site with me, an opportunity for which I am extremely grateful and could not be more eager to take on.

Additionally, as should be clear from above, I couldn’t be more excited to be taking on Sconnie Sports Talk at a school that I believe is one of the best in the country for student sports journalism. When we started the blog on April 2, 2015, we could not have even imagined where we are today – with nearly 700 Facebook followers, 1,200 Twitter followers and 60,000 unique site visitors, Sconnie Sports Talk is a legitimate growing news organization.

Thanks to Brian Lucas and the entire UW Athletic Department, we have been granted press access throughout the year, and because of it, we’ve been able to write many incredible features on Wisconsin athletes. From Nigel Hayes to Alex Erickson to Rose Lavelle, we’ve been so fortunate to be able to tell the stories behind the student-athletes who compete on national television so often. The school’s ability to cooperate and allow young voices to not only exist, but thrive, has been integral to our success. We look forward to writing for a community that values its journalists – something that can’t necessarily be said about a lot of the country right now.

What does the future hold for us? Just as it was on April 6 last year, we’re not sure – and that’s ok. With a team of nearly 25 writers, we’re looking to expand our brand beyond just writing. Expect to see more audio, video, and feature stories in the next year. Just as we have in the past, our coverage will be Wisconsin-wide. We’ll be covering the Badgers and commenting on the Packers, Brewers, and Bucks as well as league-wide news in the NBA, MLB, NHL, NFL, and more. We’re beginning to venture into new sports as well, such as tennis and soccer, and with a growing staff, have the ability to cover a group of student-athletes that have unfortunately not been covered enough at this school: our female athletes that span across 12 different sports. All in all, things are looking up for our brand right now.

Everyone has a story to tell, and nowhere are these stories more eloquent and eye-opening than in college athletics. I am eager to take over as editor-in-chief of Sconnie Sports Talk not because of what it means for us, but because I will be hopelessly entangled in the world of passionate, emotion-driven writing that I have thankfully become so accustomed to. That’s all on my end – so I guess we’ll meet again next April 6.

With any luck, the Badgers could be playing for a national championship then, too.

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