Nearly two years ago this summer, I booked a weekend flight back home, slipped into a dress shirt and tie, and interviewed at the newspaper I grew up reading. I was working at the Boston Globe that summer, bracing for a three-month stint in Dallas covering high school football for a fall internship, and quite frankly the prospect of being so far from the East Coast made me nervous.
I was born in New York City, lived in Falls Church until college then moved to Boston. I wanted to come home, to work at the paper that had been dropped onto my doorstep every morning, until my parents canceled their subscription when I left for school, at which point I got mad because what was I supposed to read in the morning over vacation?
At The Post, I arrived prepared to interview for a job in high schools. I had memorized the districts and the conferences, calling back to my days at George Mason High School. Instead, when I arrived at the office, an early-morning flight threatening my ability to stay awake, I was asked about the University of Maryland.
In my 13 years in Falls Church, plus the holiday breaks that followed, I attended one Maryland game. It was a basketball game at Comcast Center, with tickets comped from a childhood friend’s father. We sat in the upper level, though I don’t particularly remember where, or when, who the Terrapins played, or who was playing for them, or who won. I remember the walking approach to the building and that it took a great while to lurch around the Beltway and down Route 1 in rush-hour traffic.
So I returned home a blank slate, cramming research into the final weeks of my internship with the Globe. My first week covering Maryland was the week of the 2013 football opener, against William & Mary, the start of Coach Randy Edsall’s second season. Thanks to the first of what would become many torn ACLs, a true freshman, Perry Hills, was the new quarterback. Over the next two football and men’s basketball seasons, I was fortunate enough to cover games, witness court-stormings, visit new cities, eat a lot of barbecue, meet readers and hear stories. Alex Len’s mother made me blintzes. Members of the football team welcomed me and photographer Jonathan Newton into their Thursday-night bowling league. A walk-on running back who has seen far more horror than his peers shared his journey for Veteran’s Day.
Now, as the Big Ten move approaches, it’s time for a change. I am moving off the Maryland beat to cover the Washington Capitals, a new challenge in a new world. The Twitter handle will stay the same. So will the e-mail address. Roman Stubbs will take over the Maryland beat and this blog space in the coming days, and he will no doubt excel. I’ll be hanging around throughout the summer, helping ease the transition into preseason football and the Big Ten move on July 1, but consider this farewell. A hearty thanks are due to all those who wrote, e-mailed, tweeted, commented, said hello and shared their stories. You readers were here long before I arrived, and will follow Maryland long after the puck drops on a new personal challenge.
A big year is coming in College Park. A new era begins next month. New cities to visit, new teams to watch. The football team has a brutally tough schedule to face, an injury-riddled past to shake and arguably the league’s best receiving corps to help. The men’s basketball team faces a critical year under Coach Mark Turgeon, NCAA tournament-less in three seasons, with another roster reset that has made the Terps at once the oldest they’ve been under Turgeon (four seniors) and the youngest (five freshmen).
So thank you to everyone for the past two years. For welcoming me onto the beat, for correcting my mistakes, for asking insightful questions, for challenging me to becoming a better reporter and writer. But I’m not going far. So stay in touch, okay? That would be swell.