Senior sendoff: Just a kid from Ohio

Henry’s brother, Ethan, “reading” him a book circa 2001. Apparently, the key to being a writer is learning how to read upside down. Photo courtesy of Princess Pamabama.

HENRY BREDEMEIER | MANAGING EDITOR | hbredeme@butler.edu

I’ve written nearly 100 articles for The Butler Collegian, and there is no article that I have had a more difficult time writing than this one. Pardon my French, but how the f*ck am I supposed to succinctly wrap up the past two and a half years? It’s simply an impossible task. But, with mere hours left until the end of my Collegian journey, I have no choice but to suck it up and give it the ol’ college try. So here it goes: 

To be perfectly honest, I don’t want to be writing this right now. There are a million things on my plate: not failing my classes so I can graduate, finding a job, finding an apartment and enjoying the final moments I have as a college student. But here I am, sitting at my desk at 2:30 a.m. on a Sunday night trying to reflect on my years working for The Collegian when I should probably either be sleeping or writing my journalism capstone. I’m sorry Dr. Karaliova, I promise it will get done.

But this is what The Collegian is. It’s stressful, time-consuming and criminally underpaid. It seems as if every time I am drowning in other responsibilities, the pesky Collegian finds a way to make itself a priority. Yet, somehow, some way, it’s all worth it.

Maybe it’s the people. Getting to work and laugh with all the great people on the editorial board is something I will always cherish. Maybe it’s the rush I get when I wake up on a Friday morning to news that the men’s or women’s basketball coach has been fired, and I immediately have to jump into action and write a breaking news piece. Maybe it’s having an outlet to write about things I care about. Maybe it’s the duty I feel to help hold this university accountable when it seems like no one else will.

Whatever the reason is, something keeps me coming back. But, as we publish our final issue and usher in a new wave of editors and reporters, there is no coming back. It’s time for the Collegian’s favorite Ohioan to say goodbye.

My time on The Collegian and at Butler has been defined by sports and, in fact, I wouldn’t have even visited Butler if it weren’t for sports. See, my amazing late-grandfather, Papa Dave, gave me Pacers tickets for Christmas in 2016. I chose to go to the game versus Oklahoma City to see Russell Westbrook chase the triple-double crown. I went with my dad, who had the genius idea to visit a college on the trip. I reluctantly selected Butler as the place I’d visit, mostly because I remembered their Cinderella runs in the NCAA Tournament. I had zero expectations — I just wanted to see an NBA game. Butler had a slightly different idea.

Fast forward two years and I’m in my second semester on campus, with no clue what I want to do with my life. As an exploratory studies major, I’m taking the aptly named exploratory studies class with Professor Heather Lee. Now, no disrespect to other professors or classes I have taken at Butler, but this class had the greatest impact on me. I was forced to take time and learn about myself — to reflect on what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be.

I was tasked with parsing through every major that even somewhat interested me, weighing the pros and cons of each. In the end, I realized something crucial about myself: I don’t want to do something for the money, I want to do something I love. At that point, everything clicked into place. I knew I wanted to do something with my passion for sports and my love for writing, so what better job to pursue than being a sportswriter?

At the end of this class, we were asked to write down one goal to achieve by the end of 2019. My goal was simple: to apply to the Butler Collegian sports section. For whatever reason — unwarranted anxiety, general laziness or simple forgetfulness — I ever-so-slightly missed that mark and applied in early 2020, the second semester of my sophomore year. Not only did this exploratory class illuminate what I wanted to be after college, it pushed me to join the best student-run organization on campus. For that, I sincerely thank you, Heather.

Fast forward another two-and-a-half years and I’m somehow the managing editor for this publication, which baffles me to this day. Before being named managing editor, my only editorial experience was as an assistant sports editor for a mere four months. Yet, at the end of the year, editor-in-chief Meghan Stratton asked me if I’d be interested in giving up the sports editor role and applying for managing editor. I thought it was a joke — I barely had experience helping run a section, let alone the entire publication.

Luckily for me, current editor-in-chief Ellie Allen believed that those four months were the perfect amount of time to prepare me to be second-in-command. I would hate to call either of these fantastic people “crazy,” but I still have no idea what they were thinking. Even though I may question their sanity after that decision, I want to thank both Meghan and Ellie — two of the hardest working people I’ve ever met — for believing in me.

Now, rather than blabbing along about what The Collegian means to me, I’d like to take some time to thank the countless people who helped me along the way and who made this experience worth it.

First, I need to thank last year’s sports editors, Drew Favakeh and Drew Sandifer. In just four months, they took me under their wings and made me a better writer and editor. Sandifer gave me my first opportunity to cover the men’s basketball team, an experience that greatly assisted my ability to do so full-time this year. He taught me how to manage a beat as prominent as that one, and I read his men’s basketball “What You Need to Know”s and “Beyond the Box Score”s religiously.

From Favakeh, I learned how to effectively tell a story and make every word I type mean something. Favakeh is genuinely one of the best writers I have met, and getting the chance to talk through and restructure my work with him made me exponentially better. To the Drews, I wouldn’t be here without you. Thank you.

I also want to thank the entire 2021-22 editorial board. The work all of you have done over the course of the year has been simply amazing. Every single one of you has been an enormous part of putting the paper together, and the sheer talent of this group is something to behold. Beyond that, each one of you makes staying in the office until 4 a.m. every Tuesday bearable. The delusional conversations, the absurd headline suggestions and having to defend the honor of Ohio to you nonbelievers are things I will not soon forget.

I want to thank Dr. Karaliova, the best advisor anyone could ask for. You have stood by us, advocated for us and supported us through thick and thin. Beyond your role as the advisor for the Collegian, you have also given me immense support in my academics. Without you, I wouldn’t be heading down to Phoenix this summer for the News21 Fellowship. Thank you, Dr. Karaliova.

I want to thank Ellie again, as well as my fellow managing editors, Emma Beavins and Francie Wilson, for being a part of the best leadership board I could have asked for. Emma, while I unfortunately didn’t get to spend as much time with you because of your little five-month vacay to Italy, this operation runs so much better with you involved. You are the best line-by-line editor on this staff, and your constant positivity helps me not go insane every week – thank you.

Francie, over the past nine months we have spent a lot of time together and we can still barely go five minutes without breaking into an argument or pushing each other’s buttons. Despite our innumerable differences, I’m not sure there’s anyone who is more committed to this paper than you. Thank you for spending the past nine months in a constant state of stress to help this paper run, we couldn’t have done it without you.

Ellie, beyond giving me this opportunity, I couldn’t have gotten through this year without you. Your steady hand has guided this paper through all the bullsh*t, and there is no one who could have steered the ship better than you. You’re leaving this paper in a better place than when you took over, and I speak for the entire staff when I say thank you.

Lastly, I want to thank my family for their relentless support of me through all of this. The feedback I get from each of you every Wednesday makes all the hard work worth it. I also want to thank my best friend and girlfriend, Kate, for dealing with my perpetually-stressed self — I couldn’t have done this without your love and support.

Now, as my final article for The Butler Collegian comes to a close, a few words of advice for the next editorial staff, who I’m positive will continue to do amazing work.

First, your job is not only to do good journalism, but to hold this university to account, because no one else will. Don’t be afraid to tell the stories that others won’t address. Be relentless. Make yourselves heard to the people of power on this campus.

Second, have fun. While this is a job, it’s supposed to be fun — albeit a lot of times it won’t be. Get to know your fellow staff members, find out what makes them laugh. It will make Tuesdays go a lot faster.

Finally, don’t take it for granted. I joined this staff what feels like moments ago, and with a blink of an eye, it’s over. Enjoy every meeting, every story, every laugh. Because before you know it, you’ll be writing your goodbye, too.  

Authors

Related posts

*

Top