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First-Year Lessons

Behind the Mike

By Michael E. Ginsberg

Time goes so fast at Harvard.

Between courses and extracurriculars, most of us lose track of the days. It was only a few weeks ago that I realized that this, my first year as an undergraduate, was rapidly coming to a close.

I began reflecting on this past year. Like any new experience, it had its ups and downs, but I came away from this 12-round bout with the gods of nostalgia clinging to my back. And nothing made me feel better than reflecting on my work here at The Crimson.

Which is funny, because my work here almost never happened.

Writing for The Crimson wasn't something I had planned to do when I got here. In fact, I intended to avoid working on any publication, because I was afraid it would suck up all of my free time.

I remember coming to the Crimson's open house in those early days back in September.

Like I said, I didn't plan on coming. But a couple of guys in my dorm mentioned they were going, and the awesome beast known as Freshman Week Peer Pressure took over. I found myself heading to 14 Plympton.

After getting the spiel from the various boards (and a slide show from the business board that looked like something George Lucas had a hand in), I talked with the sports editors at the time, John Trainer and Tarek Farouki.

I liked sports, but I couldn't write at all. I'd never worked on my school daily (well, more like monthly) paper. I didn't really like writing. And I hadn't a clue about interviewing techniques.

John and Tarek reassured me that no experience was necessary.

I signed my name on their comp sheet, but in the back of my mind, I thought. "I don't have time for this." It was just going to be one of those sign-up-and-never-show-up-again type of deals that seemed to happen all over freshman week.

I was in greater error than Bill Buckner (well, maybe not). The next day, Tarek called me and assigned me a field hockey game.

I accepted. Was I crazy? I didn't know the first thing about field hockey. Heck, I didn't even know where the field was, let alone the hockey part.

Nervous now, I remembered that my sister's high school played field hockey.

In a panic, I called her and had her explain the rules to me.

Feeling better, I began preparing hordes of questions for the players and coach.

The next day, I headed down to Cumnock Field to watch the game. And a funny thing happened.

I got hooked.

I figured out the rules, and pretty soon I was emotionally involved in the game, rooting (inconspicuously, of course) for Harvard.

Still intimidated, I went and got my first interviews with the players and the coach. They were extremely accommodating, and I began to feel more confident as I interviewed further.

Getting back to The Crimson, I pecked out my first story. It took me two hours and it needed more help than the AL West.

Tarek was the story's savior. He patiently edited it, teaching me some basic stylistic points about sportswriting.

Use only two to three sentences per paragraph. Have a catchy lead.

Use good game details.

Since then, I've covered a whole plethora of sports, sports which I knew nothing about before my work here.

I also was given a column, an opportunity I'd never dreamed of having.

Most importantly, I've met a lot of fascinating people, both in the newsroom and on the fields.

I wouldn't trade the time I've spent here for anything. In all likelihood, I'll never have the chance to work for a daily paper again.

Between choosing concentrations, houses to enter in the lottery and extracurriculars, I've learned a lot about the value of being open-minded this year.

I hope I don't forget it.

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