Most of the time, it’s not goodbye, it’s see ya later. But this time, it’s actually the moment to say goodbye.

Two years ago, I was walking through the Weimer Hall atrium as a freshman.

I had no clue how to get involved in the J-school, but I knew I loved sports, and I knew I loved talking about them.

I saw a note: "The Independent Florida Alligator Open House (follow the signs)."

My naive little self stumbled down the stairs, into the closet that is the student newspaper’s on-campus office.

There, I met Ian Cohen, the guy who gave me my first chance to shine in the sports industry.

Yo Ian, if you’re reading this, thanks bro.

To Ethan Bauer, who handed me my first beat following the Gators men’s golf team, thanks bro.

To Matt Brannon, who hounded me for an entire semester about my writing while I covered Gators volleyball, that semester was hell. But thanks bro, you made me a better writer, I think.

To Dylan and Morgan, y’all were dope too. Thanks for letting me cover Gators baseball and helping me through a giant fact error in my women’s basketball feature (whoops).

To my fellow writers at the paper, whether retired from the Alligator or still in that newsroom, keep up the grind. Every single one of you has the ability to be great. Just keep that drive that got you into that newsroom and you’ll go places. Also, Kyle, Chris, Bryan and Victor, y’all tryna run 5s at Southwest tomorrow? Let me know.

And to the friends and family that read my articles from the beginning, thanks for sticking through all of my dependent clauses and cliches.

I’m glad to have been a student of the craft for you guys, taking each article one sentence at a time.

To anyone else reading this sappy goodbye, thanks for reading. Without you, student newspapers wouldn’t survive. So keep reading, please. They work as hard as any other writer covering these Gators, on top of taking courses in one of the more rigorous journalism schools in the country #top10PublicUniversity.

With all of that said (cliche), I have a big capstone project due at 10:40 a.m. today.

So adios, my beloved reader. And remember, UCF wasn’t a deserving CFB playoff team (did you see that strength of schedule? LMAO), Florida MIGHT be a football school again and I finished this two minutes before my deadline set by our amazing sports editor Morgan McMullen.

Much love alligatorSports, and thanks again for taking a chance on me.


Justin Ahlum was a staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @justinn_case1 .