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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Always team Alligator

Zachary Huber writes his goodbye to The Alligator

Zachary Huber worked at The Alligator since Spring 2020
Zachary Huber worked at The Alligator since Spring 2020

I cried waterfalls in the library of Providence High School in Jacksonville after my high school basketball team, Bishop Synder, was eliminated by Trinity Christian in the district tournament. 

Tears dropped from my eyes and pooled into a puddle on the carpet because I thought I’d never be a part of a team again. 

Then I joined The Alligator’s sports desk in Spring 2020. 

It wasn’t that simple. I didn’t know anything about the largest student-run newspaper when I arrived at UF after transferring from Florida State College at Jacksonville. 

However, I met my now-best friend Noah Ram in Sports Media and Society my first semester. He led me to apply and told me this is where I belong if I was serious about journalism. I tried my hand in the Fall of 2019 but failed to make the cut. 

I didn’t give up. I tried again. This time, then-sports editor Kyle Wood called me and told me I was hired to cover Florida men’s tennis in the Spring of 2020. 

Like many other great writers and even better people before me, the decision to work at The Alligator was the best decision I’ve ever made because I found another team to be a part of. The people I’ve encountered and made friends with at the sports and news desks are some of the most hardworking and nicest people I’ve ever met. 

We always were each other’s biggest supporters and had each other’s backs. We all worked hard to become better writers and reporters and attempted to uphold the standard as the best student-run newspaper in the country. 

We also built strong friendships at Ryan Haley’s apartment watching Thursday Night Football or bonding over pitchers at The Social at Midtown every Wednesday before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Even though the pandemic arrived two months into my first semester at the newspaper, I still strongly feel that I got the whole experience. I made lifelong friends and became a much better journalist and person. 

I glanced back at the first story I ever wrote for The Alligator from time to time during my six semesters to see how far I’ve come and did so one last time before starting this goodbye column. Tears run down my face every time because of how much I improved as a journalist and the memories I made along the way. 

Before I say goodbye, I need to thank several former colleagues and current writers and editors. I’m sorry I couldn’t thank everyone because of word count, but if you weren’t mentioned, thank you, too. 

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Thank you to Kyle and Evan Lepak for taking a shot on me and letting me live out my dream of covering the school I loved growing up.  

If it wasn’t for so many talented editors and writers like Kyle, Ryan, Joseph Salvador, River Wells, Brendan Farrell, Payton Titus, Christian Ortega, Grethel Aguila, Michael Hull and Steven Walker, I never would’ve been able to write and report on a story that important, made national news and allowed me to achieve a lifelong dream of going on SportsCenter. 

I owe a huge thank you to Noah because I don’t think if I ever would’ve applied if we never  crossed paths. You’re my best friend, and I don’t know what I would do without you. You have such a bright future ahead of you, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for you next. 

To Ryan and Michael, our trip to Louisiana to cover the Florida-LSU football game is one of my favorite memories that I’ll cherish forever. 

To the sports desk this semester, thank you for making Ryan’s life and my life so easy. All of you are so talented and gifted. The future of the sports desk is so bright. If you guys ever need anything, I’m always a DM, text or phone call away. 

If you’re a journalist at UF consider applying because I promise you won’t regret it. 

Finally, thank you to The Alligator for letting me be a part of a team again. 

Zachary Huber was the Assistant Sports Editor and a sports writer at The Independent Florida Alligator. You can follow him on Twitter @zacharyahuber.

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