PICHINI | My most formative experience at Cornell
If it wasn’t for a vote, I wouldn’t be writing this column, and I wouldn’t have been as involved with The Sun as I have been. Let me explain.
Before coming to Cornell as a sophomore transfer student in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, I spent my freshman year at Boston College. At BC, I had no particular direction or goal, so when club recruiting began, I attended the briefing for the school’s independent student newspaper, The Heights.
Shortly after joining the sports section, I found a good rhythm covering the Boston College Eagles in a variety of sports. When November rolled around and it was time to elect the Editorial Board, I decided to throw my hat in the ring for the Associate Sports Editor position.
In my election, I was pitted against another very capable writer, so I wasn’t exactly expecting a win. After delivering my speech and answering many questions from current editors, I returned to my dorm and received a surprising call – I was elected to the position.
As I later learned from the sports editor, I had won the election by a single vote. If I had lost, my involvement with the newspaper would probably have diminished, and my working time for the newspaper would have been just a dot on my radar.
Instead, I got intrigued by The Heights, and I fell in love with the work I was doing. It was enlightening to bring the athlete stories to life on the page, and the moment I transferred to Cornell, I knew I wanted to continue that work.
Once I set foot on campus during orientation, I contacted then-sportswriter Raphy Gender ’21 via Twitter, who along with assistant sportswriter Christina Bulkeley ’21, welcomed with open arms. Fortunately, I learned that there was a vacancy on the editorial board because one of the assistant sportswriters was studying abroad. Within two months, I was on the editorial board and back to doing what I loved.
As Associate Sports Editor and later as Senior Sports Editor, I grew tremendously in terms of writing, motivation, and leadership. When I started at The Sun, I remember spending between ten and over 25 hours a week in the paper, as a football and basketball reporter while working once a week.
Although it was a huge time commitment, it was incredibly rewarding. Not only was I seeing and documenting the startling success of Cornell’s sports teams — including men’s and women’s hockey simultaneously achieving a No. 1 ranking — but I was growing as a writer while developing close friendships with my fellow editors.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Ivy League sports were then canceled for the entire 2020-2021 academic year, leaving a huge content void. During this time, it was quite a challenge to gather new story ideas. But because we had more flexibility and room for original ideas, our section was able to continue fueling sports through a variety of articles, including feature articles, historical dives and chronicles.
I was very lucky to have a final year covering the Red alongside three excellent assistant sportswriters: Will Bodenman ’23, Liam Monahan ’24 and Aaron Snyder ’23. After our staff experienced a significant contraction in writers during the pandemic, I was able to recruit and strengthen staff to ensure we were giving proper coverage to Cornell’s 37 varsity sports.
Now, weeks away from graduation, I am filled with gratitude for the many people who have helped me on this journey. First of all, I would like to thank all the people who served with me on the editorial board. Of all the organizations on campus, I believe The Sun is an institution with one of the most cross-departmental collaborations, and this is very true for sports. Whether with photography editors, layout editors, or editors, the tireless work of my fellow editors ultimately helped us publish a massive output of articles.
Second, I would like to thank everyone with whom I have worked in the field of sport. We’ve always been such a tight-knit section, and my experience started with Raphy and Christina, and then I had the pleasure of working with Emily Dawson ’21 during the pandemic. Without Will, Liam and Aaron, I don’t know how I would have handled the cover. Their help and input has been invaluable, and I can’t wait to see where Aaron, the current sportswriter, takes the paper alongside Ruth Abraham ’24, Gabriella Pacitto ’24 and Grayson Ruhl ’24 at the helm.
In addition to the many phenomenal people in The Sun, I also want to thank the directors of sports information at Cornell Athletics, especially Jeremy Hartigan and Brandon Thomas. Jeremy and Brandon coordinate coverage of Cornell’s 37 varsity sports with a very small staff, and they served as a liaison between the teams and us – the media. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to fill our articles with insightful quotes from players and coaches, and I’m truly grateful for all the work they’ve done.
When I think back to my three years on the Hill, my experience at the Sun will be one of my fondest memories. I believe the one deciding vote in my freshman election in British Columbia set me on a new path. My foray into journalism has given me so much in the form of skills, friendships and ultimately unforgettable experiences.
Luke Pichini is a graduate of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He served as sports editor on the 139th Editorial Board and assistant sports editor on the 137th and 138th councils. He can be reached at [email protected]