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Friday, March 1, 2024
The Observer

To the sports department, thank you and I’ll be back

“If you can’t play sports? Write ‘em.”

Former Sports Editor Hayden Adams quoted fellow former Sports Editor Ellen Geyer on that point throughout my entire first two years in the department. 

So that’s what I did and now, I wear those words on my wrist daily. The quote is written on a black bracelet with “Observer Sports” on the other side.

The Observer has been the strongest constant in my time here at Notre Dame and the Sports Department quickly became my home within the office.

I’ll never forget writing my first Sports Authority the second I finished moving in freshman year. Or training production under Stephen Hannon and a month later at the Observer tailgate, Charlotte Edmonds and Kelli Smith nicknaming me “Baby Stephen” because I had quickly gotten the hang of it. I’ll never forget my first time in a football press box either. First, at Soldier Field, and then again back in the House that Rockne built, a place I stepped into the first time when I was nine. Or the four-day trip to Glendale, Arizona with three of my favorite people on staff, all of whom I couldn’t have more respect for. The Sports Department gave me all of that, and I spent the last year giving my all in return. 

But now, I’ve officially earned the title of “former” Sports Editor. My days of tracking three spreadsheets at once at any given moment, running department meetings and sending deadline reminders. While I won’t miss those pieces, I’m going to miss picking up last-minute stories, being point person for the Irish Insiders and working with such an amazing department. The late nights in the basement of South Dining Hall will forever be some of my favorite memories. 

Luckily, I’m not leaving just yet, simply zooming out. 

After a brief hiatus from Sports (which will include a short stint in Scene, so stay tuned), I’ll come back to writing for the department (I doubt I’ll even make it two weeks). As an Assistant Managing Editor, though, I’m excited to see everything that comes across the back editor desk from all departments. But, I’m especially excited to see the work that comes out of Sports in the next year. And, I want to thank my incredible staff for all the work they did this year. 

To all of my Associate Sports Editors. Specifically to Emily DeFazio, my fellow production-ready ASE. Thank you for stepping up at the end of your freshman year to join my ASEs and sticking with it. Liam Coolican, thank you for coming back from abroad and falling right in step with picking up stories and shifts. Your basketball coverage has been stellar. And, Olivia Schatz. Thank you for believing in me and launching headfirst into an ASE role you didn’t know much about. Additionally, thank you for writing engaging (occasionally biting) and page-turning Sports Authorities and for making remote shifts that much more entertaining — especially if you’re the one working and not me. You’re killing it, and I can’t wait to see you take on more coverage. 

To Nate Moller, like Brady and Gronk, every time I needed a story taken, you were there with reliable, well-written pieces. There’s not a track moment uncovered or a space on the hockey budget unfilled, not to mention football, basketball and anything else that cropped up. Thank you.

To Andrew McGuinness and Maddie Ladd, you both have done amazing work this year and it paid off. I am so lucky I get to see you join the ranks as ASEs. 

To Jamison Cook and Colin Capece, even with much bigger fish to fry on so many fronts, you made sure your usual content was not missing from this year’s coverage. Thank you for the brilliant angles on everything from Bengal and Baraka Bouts to men’s soccer and coaching columns. You guys did it all.

To the Irish Insider squad, Allison Thornton and Maggie Klaers, we did it, ladies. Dare I say, these were the best Insider covers I’ve seen in my three years (read: ever). And they came from an all-girl squad, which is pretty cool too if I do say so myself. Maggie, you, Aidan and Ryan will kill it next year and Allison, we are going to miss you so much. 

To all of the new writers, production workers and editors and to the incredible writers that make up the existing staff, thank you so much. You made this year a breeze and I couldn’t have asked for a better department. New writers, break out of your shells. Take the piece you’re nervous about, ask the questions you want to ask. There’s power in your pen and you are joining up with a group of people who know how to wield it. Ask them for help. They’ll show you the way as some of them showed me. To “elder” Top-5, for believing in me and trusting me to lead the department. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I can’t wait to have another great experience in your shoes. And lastly, to Aidan Thomas, the new Sports Editor. You thought you could fly under the radar at the Observer but if we were a football team, you’d be an every-down back. Anything from short dump passes and picking up blocks, to 96-yard touchdown runs, you were there. I so appreciate you stepping up to join this year’s ASEs. It’s where you belong. Thank you for doing the leg work with the football beat and for running analytics on all things sports. And, (for everyone’s sake) I hope your tenure passes with minimal coaching movement. As always, if any of you need anything, you know where to find me. I’ll probably still be at the Sports Desk, despite my new computer being one seat over. You can contact Mannion at

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.