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Farewell and thank you from a most unforgettable year

The last 12 months have been unpredictable and rewarding.

Former editor-in-chief Noah Coffman said one year ago in his farewell post: “Of all the years to be the Inside NU editor-in-chief, I sure picked a doozy.”

Yep, he got the doozy.

He got one of the worst Power 5 offenses in modern history; we got a pandemic. I guess it all evens out, right?

After 12 months that felt more like 10 years, it is time for a peaceful transfer of power. I can assure you there will be no insurrection at the McCormick Foundation Center — that place during COVID is more secure than the Capitol.

Lia and I are handing over the reins to Daniel Olinger and company. I’m sure the seven people reading this know Dan and his excellent, thoughtful and innovative work. His film reviews always teach me something new about the sports I cover, and he is primed to take this site and this community to new heights. Dan will be supported by editors Mac Stone, Will Karmin, Ben Chasen, Didi Jin and Michael Barthelemy, each of whom adds different, valuable talents to the staff. I look forward to seeing what they do, and you should, too.

We took over just under a year ago, confined to our homes and our local parks in which we took walks. We leave, having traveled to every single Northwestern football game this season, both Big Ten basketball tournaments and the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. And no one got COVID from these trips! We have been incredibly fortunate.

Thank you to our readers, for sticking with us through sports and no sports. I realize it’s pretty easy for the site to generate a lot of traffic when the football team does well, regardless of the quality of our coverage. I hope we added value, context and enjoyable content to what is hopefully the weirdest football season any of us will ever remember. Everyone’s engagement and support of our work means more to us than you may ever know. We surely had room for improvement, but I hope it was evident that we left everything we had on the site. I apologize for not moderating the comments on some of the game threads and certain articles as quickly as I should have. At least the COVID truthers among us unearthed themselves?

Throughout the past year, we have seen the unimportance of sports in the grand scheme of things, and we’ve also seen just how powerful and healing sports can be. Inside NU, especially during football season, gave me direction during a directionless pandemic. I actually kept track of the days of the week. In another world, I wasn’t supposed to be in this country this past fall.

Inside NU helped me salvage what was basically a year lost of a college experience. I remember coming home late after Northwestern’s season-opening thrashing of Maryland and thinking, “Wow, how cathartic is that?” Not just watching an offense that went forward, but feeling like I had a purpose that night — covering a sporting event for the first time in eight months. I am incredibly grateful to everyone who helped make the sports seasons possible and the many media relations departments, especially the Northwestern athletic communications staff, that helped us be on-site everywhere we went.

I’ll finish by thanking our staffers. They all contributed to everything we’ve achieved this year and did it under unthinkable circumstances. But our staffers pulled through, and although we were far from perfect, I’d like to believe we pushed the boundaries of sports- and Northwestern-related content during a time devoid of any athletics.

I have an unhealthy amount of confidence in their ability to keep taking this site in the right direction. I remember how excited I was last June to send out our annual recruitment tweet, but I was nervous. Would we get any interest from incoming freshmen during a time when the state of college and college sports was so murky? Turns out we recruit like Nick Saban and got a damn haul. You’ve all been phenomenal. Most of all, in a year as crazy as this one, when freshmen were told just a couple of weeks before fall move-in that they were no longer coming to campus, I hope that Inside NU gave you some kind of connection to a school and community that had yet to formally welcome you. If that was accomplished, then I can feel good about the job I did.

I owe immense gratitude to Noah, whose guidance as editor emeritus and encyclopedic knowledge of Northwestern sports was invaluable over the past year.

And finally, a thank you to my co-editor-in-chief Lia. From the endless planning and texting to complaining and celebrating, there’s no one else I’d want by my side. When I was down you picked me up, and when you were down I’d like to think I did the same. We led this site through a pandemic, and I don’t think we will forget the events of the past year anytime soon.

In my first article for Inside NU in October 2018, a Big Ten Football Power Rankings, I said watching Campus Eats on BTN is more entertaining than watching Rutgers play football. Some 230 articles later and despite a few Greg Schiano pandemic victories, I generally still agree with that sentiment. A lot has changed since then, but some things stay the same.

So for one last time, thank you — and I hope you liked the tweets.