Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Friday, May 24, 2024 — Houston, TX

Whursdays: gone but not forgotten

By Natalie Clericuzio     5/18/11 7:00pm

Almost four years ago now, my friend Jocelyn Wright, fellow O-Week group member and soon-to-be assistant news editor, and I wandered upstairs to the Thresher office during the activity fair. Both of us had aspirations of journalism greatness, she via hard-hitting news stories and I covering the greats of the Rice baseball diamond. We ran into Evan Mintz (Hanszen '08) and Stephen Whitfield (Sid Rich '08), then-executive editor and editor-in-chief, who were not-so-frantically beginning work on that year's O-Week edition. They ushered us into the office, equally eager to see fresh faces and skeptical of our capabilities.

Although Jocelyn had four years of high school journalism under her belt, I was without any credentials except an enthusiasm for sports and for trying my hand at reporting. Stephen introduced me to Casey Michel (Brown '10), sports editor, and from that moment my career as a sports journalist was born.

Admittedly, I am not leaving Rice for a position in sports journalism — far from it. But I do know that the countless hours I spent at my desk, correcting commas, scrambling for athlete quotes, munching on junk food and laying out pages, turned out to be some of the best I had at Rice. And as regular readers of the Thresher know, I never became the baseball reporter. Instead, I found my beloved niche covering volleyball, women's cross country and track and field, while serving as sports editor for two-and-a-half years.  

Why am I boring you with all these details of my career at the Thresher? Maybe I'm feeling a little sentimental. As I sit in my nearly bare room at Wiess College composing my last piece for this paper, the rain is falling outside and I have to admit, there's a pit of nerves in my stomach.

More importantly, though, I hope that I can inspire you to take risks and try something new. My time covering Rice athletics has opened many doors for me and drawn me out of my shy, sheltered, too-polite freshman shell.

Because I've worked for the Thresher, I have sat in the same room as Mike Krzyzewski, my greatest sports nemesis (except for maybe the bulk of the Red Sox roster). I've learned the ins and outs of comma splices, split infinitives and AP style. I've cranked out 15 pages of layout in under 12 hours. I've acquired the cell phone numbers of a few high profile athletes. I've knelt on the floor and photographed the NCAA basketball championship. I learned the joys of filling space with box scores. Last but not least, I've mastered the art of slightly offensive, but still amusing, intra-office banter. Oh, and after months and months and months of mindless requests for help from Casey, I finally learned InDesign.

Those are just the tangible skills and accomplishments I take away from my time covering Rice athletics. Even more valuable are the people I've met and the people I've come to know. Don't let anyone tell you differently — Jim Bevan is a gem. Next year will not be the same without a weekly conversation with him about his runners. Casey will always be a pain in the you-know-what, but also the person responsible for turning me into a half-coherent writer. I have a litany of backpage editors to thank for making Whursdays bearable: Tim Faust (Brown '09), Eric Doctor (Lovett '10), Kyle Barnhart (Will Rice '10), Cristina Tortarolo (Will Rice '10) and Connor Hayes (Baker '11). And I can't go without mentioning Yan Digilov (Duncan '11) and Jonathan Myers, who put up with my neuroses as my two sports co-editors.

I went on many, many job interviews this past semester as I worked to secure post-Rice employment. Some of the questions they asked me could be challenging, but there was one that never made me hesitate: describe your proudest moment. Everyone deserves to know the satisfaction of spending weeks planning and then days working and then a final push of several hours too late at night and too early in the morning to create a finished product better than you expected, completing just as the sun rises. Because of the Thresher, I've been there countless times.

Sure, most weeks at the Thresher do not produce an error-free copy, not even close. I can't think of a single Friday morning when I perused the sports section without discovering at least a couple things I could have done better. But the Thresher did give me the tools to become someone who relishes interviews, rather than fears them. Who misses dreaming about cutlines and headlines and picas? Who knows that the most exciting competitions aren't always the ones with the highest attendance?

My friends know that I have complained about my time working at the Thresher more than I've praised it: late nights and early mornings, lack of free time, frustration with editors and workload. Even so, as I look back at my time covering Rice athletics for this paper, I know one thing to be true.

Four years ago, Jocelyn and I didn't realize what we were getting ourselves into. But if we had, I bet we wouldn't have walked up the stairs to the office — we would have sprinted.

Natalie Clericuzio is a former Thresher Sports editor and Wiess College '11. TFW!

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