I’ve written 1,338 stories during my time at The Daily. This is 1,339. It’s also my last.
With graduation later this week, it’s surreal knowing that my time at The Daily has come to an end. It feels not long ago that I wrote my first story on now-former OU golfer Brad Dalke, a story that included a fact error of Dalke’s age. I will never forget thinking I was going to be fired after writing just one article. Now 1,338 later, I’ve written what appears to be the most in The Daily’s history.
Some are more memorable than others.
Like my first front page story on former women’s basketball player Vionise Pierre-Louis, who wanted to become a doctor in Haiti. Or my Bob Stoops legacy piece on the day he retired. Or my column on Baker Mayfield grabbing his crotch in Lawrence. Or my 4,000 word Kyler Murray profile on his “circle of trust.” Or my in-depth read on former Sooner Rickey Dixon and the concussions killing him. Or my breaking news story on the OU spirit squad being told they can’t do the “horns down” hand gesture. Or my profile on Maggie Nichols, maybe the greatest Sooner athlete ever. Or, finally, my long-form read on COVID-19 and OU football.
From covering soccer, women’s and men’s basketball, football and every sport in between, each story has helped me learn and grow as a writer and reporter. They helped me learn how to build lasting relationships with sources, how to find unique stories in a highly-competitive market and how to write with confidence and poise on some of the biggest stages in sports. They’ve taken me to some of the best venues in sports -- Jerry World in Dallas, the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles, the Orange Bowl in Miami, the Peach Bowl in Atlanta and the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York. They’ve landed me internships few can say they’ve had at the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Detroit Free Press and the Boston Globe. And they’ve taught me resilience, forcing me to overcome obstacles like the passing of my ailing aunt and my Globe internship recently being cancelled due to COVID-19.
The Daily provided me an opportunity to chase my dreams and find what I’m most passionate about. It’s allowed me to become the person I am today, and I am forever grateful for that.
But more importantly, it provided me lifelong friendships and a support system that isn’t easily replicated. I will cherish the memories I made in that newsroom — in Copeland Hall, Room 160. It’s a truly magical place. And I consider myself lucky to be a small part of it.
When you go to college they tell you it’ll be the “best four years of your life.” Fortunately for me, I double majored and got five. They also tell you to “get involved” and “find your niche.” I believe I did that, being able to be a part of incredible organizations like the President's Leadership Class, Camp Crimson, the High School Leadership Conference and, of course, The Daily -- where I made some of my fondest college memories.
I will miss the football road trips, the lunches at Cate, the daily 4:30 meetings, the wooden chair in our adviser’s office, the late-night and early-morning Slack messages, the rare arguments, the constant laughter and the occasional tears. Most of all, I will miss the people who make The Daily what it is.
I’m not sure if college really is the best years of your life. I guess that’s to be determined. I do, however, know I don’t want it to end. But I do find comfort in knowing The Daily, and OU, has prepared me well for whatever comes next. And I know whatever that is, it’ll be great.
Finally, I leave you with some parting advice: Find your passion, be resilient in chasing your dreams and trust in those who believe in you, because they’re the ones teaching you how to make magic.
Thanks for reading,
George Stoia III
George Stoia was a sports reporter from fall 2016 to fall 2017, sports editor from spring 2018 to fall 2019, and enterprise editor in spring 2020. He is graduating with a double major in journalism and sports management.