SENIOR COLUMNIST: 116 articles, 2 handshakes and a desk

David Cassilo

When this issue hits campus, I will have written 116 articles. Already in the books are 24 sports sections and one magazine. There were hours upon hours of work in preparation for all of this. Yet, when it’s over, what I will remember most are two handshakes and one circular desk.

The first of those two handshakes came one evening in Boston. Dumbfounding even myself, I, along with the assistant sports editor Nate McGann and photo editor Mike Dokas, were on the court to watch Villanova try to advance to the Final Four against Big East rival Pittsburgh.

The game, and I will swear by this biased opinion for as long as I live, was one of the best ever played in NCAA Tournament history. Nobody led by more than five points the entire second half. 

While each tension-filled moment occurred in front us, Nate and I kept turning to each other, secretly conveying our emotion because you aren’t allowed to cheer sitting in press row.We smiled with anticipation when Villanova appeared set to win, squirmed in our seats when Reggie Redding threw the ball away and choked out our words when Levance Fields tied the game on two free throws.

Then came the play. Scottie Reynolds dashed across the floor, bumped into Gilbert Brown and went up for the layup. Shot. Buzzer. Basket. No more press etiquette. The assistant and I jumped up and hugged each other. As the confetti fell and the crowd roared, my mind raced. I was proud that in some small way I was part of this. One day students would break out their old issues of The Villanovan and flip through the sports section to remember this run.

While I stood on the baseline, Dwayne Anderson walked past me on his way to the basket to cut down the net. We saw each other, and although we both knew this was a special moment, we didn’t have to say anything. We just shook hands.

A few hundred miles south and a few months later, another equally special moment took place for Villanova in Chattanooga. In what was my last official duty as sports editor, I headed down to Tennessee with Nate  for the FCS title game between Villanova and Montana.

Oddly enough, I was pressed into photo duty for the game after we learned our photographer couldn’t make the trip. While my amateur skills provided less than stellar photos, the game itself made up for those shortcomings.

Being able to watch Matt Szczur fly past me on the sidelines, hear a crushing block from Brandyn Harvey and witness the team fidget with anticipation on the bench as the clock wound down were all unforgettable images.

However, above them all was seeing that smile across Head Coach Andy Talley’s face after the win. The man who quietly helped rebuild the Villanova football program was finally getting his due. He was someone I had the chance of knowing when he invited me to his office every Monday to talk about the past weekend’s game. He is one of the nicest people I have ever met, and I could never have been happier for somebody.

After the game, there was a celebration at the hotel. I went over to him and congratulated him for a great season, thanking him for all his help. 

Then Coach Talley reached out his hand to me and thanked me for everything I did for him.

In between Boston and Chattanooga, there is a circular desk in the newspaper office in 201 Dougherty Hall, and for many nights I have sat there with my newspaper family and just talked. I talked with my first sports editor about how bad our New Jersey Nets were. Found the only other person in the world who watched “MTV Jams” as much as I did. Had a two-hour argument with my editor in chief about whether I would go to a 6 a.m. basketball game. Secretly communicated with the news desk through text messages and facial expressions on nightly occasions. Spent many nights hunting down an assistant sports editor who lives the most ridiculous life I know. Reminisced about road trips with a photo editor who is hungry enough to eat a frozen breakfast sandwich.

The writing was fun, and the experiences and games were unforgettable, but it is the people who have made this great. Thanks to everyone. It was something I will always remember.


David Cassilo is a senior communication major from Chatham, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected]