Anyone who knows me admits I am a procrastinator.
For assignments, I often wait until the last minute because I “write better under pressure.”
So, it only makes sense that I penned this goodbye column on Dec. 4, one day before my name will appear in The Independent Florida Alligator one last time.
The truth is, I first began to think about what I’d say in this space in mid-August, in the produce section of Aldi.
It turns out, though, searching for the right words to describe a place where I spent three years of college and wrote nearly 150 stories proved taxing.
The time has arrived, and I can no longer put this task off anymore, so here goes.
As any good journalist would do, I will start at the beginning. (Yes, I will get to the moral of the story in due time).
In high school, I sought out TV Production, but I eventually yearned to be as far from a camera as a calculator.
When I arrived in Gainesville in Fall 2018, I first applied to The Alligator. I remember writing the sample story about women’s basketball in the Law Library for hours.
I got rejected, and I expected the same result in the spring when I re-auditioned.
However, on a Thursday night in late-January, I received a call from Jake Dreilinger in the parking lot of Southwest Rec that changed my life.
Somehow, I was hired to cover men’s tennis. For the first time in my journalistic life, I felt worthy.
I developed lofty expectations for myself at The Alligator. Before I graduated, I intended to serve as sports editor and football beat writer.
As I prepare to cross the stage in two weeks, I realize none of those dreams came true.
But before you shed a tear, let me reassure you, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I’ll explain. (Yes finally, the point!)
My first year and a half at The Alligator flew by as I covered gymnastics and served as Assistant Sports Editor in Summer 2020, which proved demanding but exhilarating.
However, my plan began to suffer multiple detours.
This Fall, I anticipated to conquer the holy grail of football. Instead, I was named the sports enterprise reporter.
Within an instant, everything I worked up for seemed to vanish in the wind, like a snap from Thanos. I questioned my ability and future as a writer.
Little did I know this decision helped me find my real journalism dream: to tell stories of people and places that don’t normally land in the newspaper.
But what really made “sprots” at The Alligator stand out from other jobs is the people, and I wanted to shout a few of them out.
To Jake Dreilinger, thank you for taking the chance on a freshman who didn’t know a lick about AP Style. You could have easily cut bait with the new guy, but you stuck with me, and I am eternally grateful.
To Kyle Wood, the OG Hybrid Reporter, you always worked with me on the gymnastics beat and helped me become a better writer in the process. Thank you for showing me sports writers can tackle topics outside the game.
To Ryan Haley, thank you for being such an understanding editor. I know this semester had some bumps along the way, but you are leaving this section in an amazing place. And thank you for reuniting the section in a “post-COVID” era. Your efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.
Finally, to Zachary Huber, my first friend at the J-school. I haven’t been certain about much, but when you got hired at The Alligator, I knew you would shine. You accomplished more than just about anyone in your time. How many student journalists end up on national news?! I can’t put into words how proud I am of what you’ve accomplished. You’ve been my confidante since I joined staff. Whenever I need advice, I turn to you first. Keep working hard, man. You are destined for greatness.
And to any aspiring journalist reading this, remember to trust the process and keep the faith. Throughout my life, I have mostly rejected the cliché of “everything happens for a reason.” But, as I reminisce about my time at The Alligator, I can’t help but agree.
Noah Ram was a Sports Writer and a former Assistant Sports Editor at The Independent Florida Alligator. Follow him on Twitter @Noah_ram1.
Noah is a third year journalism-sports and media student from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. He has been with The Alligator since Spring 2019 and has covered men’s and women’s tennis, gymnastics and volleyball. When he isn’t on his beat, Noah is usually sadden over his beloved South Florida sports teams, such as the Heat and Dolphins.