Pope: Signing off, at least for now

Keegan Pope

Keegan Pope
Keegan Pope

Almost a year ago, I wrote to you for the first time as the sports editor of this newspaper. I used my favorite Jay-Z lyric: “Allow me to reintroduce myself.”

Today I do so again, but for the last time in that same position. And today I’ll let Kanye say it all:

Ad

“I don’t wanna say goodbye to you,
So I’ll just say good night to you.
My people, no goodbyes to you.
I’m just gonna say good night.”

But, before we get too sentimental, let’s recap.

The past year serving you, the readers, has been an experience I will never forget, no matter how hard I may try to put the countless hours I spent in the window-less, dungeon-like basement of the Lory Student Center behind me.

Though it had its challenges, including multiple 12-hour shifts in the newsroom poring over my reporters’ writing and designing special editions, I wouldn’t trade the last year as the face of this desk for anything.

To me, great journalism doesn’t have to do with winning awards, or getting kudos from people about the content you produce – although those are both nice. For me, it comes down to two things: writing something people will care about, and telling the best story possible. I feel incredibly blessed to say I was able to do both this year.

I was able to oversee our exceptional multi-platform PanoRAMic project, one which told the stories of football players Nick Stevens, Bernard Blake and Jared Roberts.

I was also able to write a number of columns, some which you likely disagreed with (especially if you are a CU-Boulder fan), but that I hope at least provoked some thought.

And, in one of my favorite pieces that I’ve written in almost two years at the Collegian, I had the privilege of allowing Stanton Kidd and A.J. Newton to tell their story as two outstanding basketball players and even better human beings, who have developed an incredible friendship around the game of basketball.

All the while, I’ve been able to witness what was arguably the greatest single year in Colorado State sports history. I was able to watch Tom Hilbert’s volleyball program defy expectations again by winning 31 games and advancing into the Sweet 16 by beating CU in a five-set thriller.

I saw a record-breaking offense shred through defenses as the CSU football team won 10 games in a season for the first time in more than a decade.

And, I also got to witness two outstanding seasons for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, culminating in two more post-season tournament appearances.

Ad

But, as my friend and colleague Patrick Enslow loves to say, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

I watched a remarkable football season come to an end with a 45-10 loss in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. I sat in a press room the size of a broom closet as Garrett Grayson and Max Morgan, two of the tougher men I’ve ever met, wiped tears from their eyes after watching their collegiate football careers end. Two weeks before, I physically saw the disappointment in players, coaches and fans eyes as former head coach Jim McElwain returned to the Southeastern Conference when he accepted the head coaching position at the University of Florida.

I sat in a hotel room in Las Vegas as the 2015 NCAA Tournament bracket was revealed, as my heart sunk for the CSU men’s hoops team, which never heard its name called. A week later, I watched that team, sapped of its confidence and energy, fall to South Dakota State in the first round of the NIT.

And, I was courtside as the women’s basketball team sent off its lone two seniors, A.J. Newton and Gritt Ryder, who had given everything they could to their program, turning it from a Mountain West bottom-feeder to one that won two consecutive Mountain West regular season championships. However, they saw their careers end with two consecutive losses in the quarterfinals of the MW Tournament and the WNIT.

To put it simply, this year had about everything someone in my position could ask for.

It started with the firing of former athletic director Jack Graham, and it ended with the hiring of Joe Parker as the newest face of CSU athletics. It was almost perfect, in a way. The end of one era, and the beginning of another.

It had plenty of mountainous highs, and a few unfortunate lows. I spent hundreds of hours helping to design our sports page this past year, including special editions for the Rocky Mountain Showdown, Border War and Las Vegas Bowl, all which put me well over the 40-hour work week limit (what an idealistic concept for journalists).

But, despite all of the early-morning flights, 30-hour roundtrip road trips and more hours checking the Associated Press stylebook than I care to count, there wasn’t a single moment where I didn’t absolutely love what I was doing.

My former sports editor Quentin Sickafoose wrote his final column about the “sports moment” last year — instances in time that gave you the chill down your spine that only sports can. But, for me, the entire 2014-15 year has been a sports moment. Each day, I found my sports moment, whether it was sitting in the press box at Hughes Stadium, or courtside at Moby Arena or even inside this black hole of a newsroom where I currently am staring at my computer for the umpteenth hour this year. It’s cliché, but the saying that, “If you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life” couldn’t fit this job any better.

But, I would be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to my staff of reporters and fellow editors (especially McKenna Ferguson who found a way to include a Pope reference in each and every Arts and Entertainment article that discussed sports), as well as the coaches and athletes who answered all my questions, and undoubtedly the sports information department at CSU for providing me with almost everything I asked for. This year wouldn’t have been what it was without all of them.

Most of all, I want to thank you, the reader, for allowing me to work for you this year. I truly hope we were able to accomplish what we set out to do, which was to provide you exceptional sports coverage all year long. It’s been an honor to serve in this position, though I am excited to get back to my roots as a reporter next year, covering football and basketball. I now get to pass the torch to an exceptional reporter, Emmett McCarthy, who will take this desk to an even higher level of success than I was able to.

It’s been my pleasure to be your sports editor, and thanks for taking some time to read words from the Pope. I hope to be able to pen a few more columns next year, but for now, I say goodbye as the sports editor of this newspaper.

For the final time this year, the Pope has spoken.

Collegian Sports Editor Keegan Pope can be reached at kpope@collegian.com and on Twitter @ByKeeganPope.