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My (kinda) farewell and heartfelt thanks

It’s been real.

Ryan Kuttler

When I was in the eighth grade, I was kicked out of my middle school choir for bad-mouthing the director.

You’re probably wondering, “Why the hell am I reading about some guy’s delinquent early-teenage behavior on a Northwestern sports website?”

Fair question, reader. Give me a little bit of time and I promise we’ll get there.

As I was saying, I talked a lot of trash about the director (Mrs. Shepard, if you’re reading this, my sincerest apologies, for I was but an annoying, buzzcut-wearing, scrawny boy). It got back to her pretty quickly, and soon, I was given the boot. In getting kicked out of the choir, I lost my elective course for that term and was given only one replacement option that fit my schedule: creative writing.

Unlike my co-Editor in Chief Mac Stone, I’m no poet. But the class was pretty open-ended in its structure. My teacher believed that writing wasn’t creative unless it was inspired by and rooted in what the writer truly cared about. For middle school me, that was sports. As such, with complete disregard for the name of the class and without the slightest bit of creativity or word-play whatsoever, I started writing for the first time about the sports I spent all my time outside of class playing and watching.

Some five-and-a-half years and a great deal of gained maturity later, I found myself in the middle of a pandemic with too much time on my hands and far too little to do. Heading into my sophomore year at NU, I was an Inside NU reader and a journalism major, but hadn’t thought about writing for the site until a recruitment tweet from my friend and then-INU co-Editor in Chief Eli Karp hit my feed one summer day.

At that moment, I thought back to that middle school creative writing class. Sure, I was forced to be there, and yes, what I was producing could in no way be defined as creative writing. But I had fun and was engaged while writing those pieces. However distant I was in reality to the subjects of my “stories,” I felt a part of the action in the most exciting world of all to me, the world of sports. Hoping to reignite that fire within me, I applied to work for the site.

Now, with 186 bylines and eight incredibly fulfilling months as co-Editor in Chief of Inside NU behind me, I can say with confidence that getting kicked out of that choir was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Without the unplanned redirection, I never would’ve discovered my passion for sportswriting, and as such, never would’ve made the incredible memories I have as a member of this staff.

All good things must come to an end, though. It’s time for this online community to be passed on to its newest set of leaders. Sarah Effress will be taking over the EIC mantle from Mac, Daniel Olinger and me starting tomorrow. I don’t need any evidence to know that her selection was the best decision we made at the helm of this site. With the help of Didi Jin, Michael Barthelemy, Gavin Dorsey, Iggy Dowling and Bradley Locker, she’s going to take Inside NU to new heights. I’m incredibly excited to see what’s next, and you all should be, too.

I also won’t be fully leaving Inside NU like many EIC’s do at the end of their terms. I joined Dan and Mac as co-Editor in Chief just a year into my time on staff, and feel as though I have a little bit of unfinished business left to conduct. I’ll be staying on as Senior Advisor to this new editorial board to ensure a smooth transition and to provide them with any veteran insight they may want. I’ll also hopefully have more time to write some features and help out with regular site coverage.

But this is the last time you’ll hear from me in this role, one that has challenged me and developed my skills as a leader and writer far more than I ever expected, one that has taken me across the Midwest and beyond, one that has introduced me to incredible people and helped me establish friendships that will last a lifetime. This job has given me so much, so it’s only fair that I express my thanks to everyone who got me here and made it what it has been.

First, I have to thank my predecessors, Eli Karp and Lia Assimakopoulos. I never would’ve joined the Inside NU staff or become nearly as engaged as I did without your support. I hope I did you both proud while wearing the incredibly oversized shoes you left behind. I’ll miss seeing both of you in Evanston next year, but am so excited to watch you go out and kick ass in the professional world.

To Daniel, who believed in me enough to elevate me to co-EIC nine months ago despite the fact that I had only been on staff for a year, I appreciate your trust and every bit of niche basketball analysis you’ve shared with me and anyone else within earshot. To Mac, thanks for bonding with me over our shared appreciation of Brockhampton, Dorktown videos and baseball. To both of you, thanks for teaching me how to lead as a part of a unit and for picking up the slack when I wasn’t at my best.

To the Inside NU staff, thank you so much for your dedication to making our publication what it is and for always pushing us to be better. Watching some of you join our site and grow as writers throughout the year was one of the greatest joys of the job. As I reflect on my experience as co-EIC, my most fervent hope is that you all appreciated my leadership as much as I appreciated your contributions.

To everyone working in Northwestern’s Athletic Communications department, thank you for reliably providing us with the access and materials we needed to do what we do and for treating us like professionals. The NU sports media world is a special one in which student journalists are front and center. Throughout the year, in addition to everything Inside NU’s had to offer, I’ve enjoyed engaging with pieces and writers from our peer publications like The Daily Northwestern, North By Northwestern and WNUR Sports. This thriving student media landscape wouldn’t be possible without the mutual respect held between all those apart of Athletic Communications and the student-run publications they work with.

Lastly, I must thank all of you who read and engaged with our content throughout the past year. I understand that it wasn’t the most fun year to be a fan of NU’s most prominent programs, and I’m as unpleased as you about that, but I’m still grateful for all the stories we got to share. Together, we experienced a national title for the field hockey team, a historic season from Veronica Burton, a shift in the landscape of college athletics, the first year of a new AD’s administration and some really memorable wins for so many Northwestern student-athletes. I hope you found a way to enjoy the highs just as I did.

Without a doubt, there were things that we could’ve done better. There were stories we missed, comment sections unmoderated for too long and surely many more errors that I cannot presently remember. But in the end, I think we provided some pretty damn good coverage and content in a year where that wasn’t always the easiest thing to do. I hope you all enjoyed it, and I hope those of you who didn’t love what we did give Sarah and company the chance they deserve.

So I suppose now is the time to wrap things up. I have no grand lessons to leave you with, other than to enjoy and support women’s sports — especially at NU, where the female student-athletes are often the best on campus — and to treat those around you with respect and dignity, no matter the circumstances. Beyond that, all I have to say is thank you, once again, for reading and, now and forever, Go ‘Cats.