A final farewell to The Dakota Student

There are plenty more stories I wish I would have made the time to tell, yet with only one left after three and a half years of working for The Dakota Student, I still don’t quite know how to end it.

I’ve met incredible people who have told me about their lives — some saying things you could predict before they even said it, and some who made you tilt your head and wonder how they’d have the guts to tell a complete stranger something so personal about themselves.

I think that’s my favorite part about this job.

There were times I found myself caring more than I should have about interviewing someone who taught me more about campus ATMs than I would find useful. I can tell you about that statue with the eternal flame where Old Main used to sit; I’ve learned how many times a small-town North Dakota girl ignored the people who told her she couldn’t buy a professional basketball team before she did.

After spending some time as a news reporter and web editor, these past two years as the sports editor have taught me more than I imagined, while serving as the men’s hockey beat writer for the past three seasons has allowed me to collect experiences beyond what I ever expected.

My first assignment was to accompany a fellow journalist to an event and get a quote from a student standing in front of me. He looked just about as horrified as I was.

It got easier, though there was seldom a time during three seasons as the men’s hockey beat writer that I managed to avoid the intimidation before I prepared to ask Dave Hakstol a question and face his constant eye contact.

My younger brothers and I were the kids who used to wait outside the tunnel in the stands after the games as we were growing up, hoping for a handful of autographs from players like Zach Parise or Brandon Bochenski. The time Mike Prpich handed my brother a broken hockey stick made me jealous for longer than I’d like to admit.

We were familiar with Scott Hennen’s voice that boomed loudly inside Ralph Engelstad Arena, and the goosebumps that accompany the collective “home of the Sioux” at the end of the national anthem.

Suddenly I had a seat in the press box at Ralph Engelstad Arena. I never made the run up the steps from ice level to press level after postgame interviews without feeling winded, and I never walked out the door of the place I visited countless times as a kid without wondering if that was real life — I might have had the best job I never knew existed at a student newspaper.

One of the highlights was being in Boston covering the Frozen Four. Seeing “The Dakota Student” listed on the seating chart near names like John Buccigross or reporters who had been covering the game for decades made me realize being a student journalist doesn’t have to limit opportunities.

I was working alongside some of the best in the business; not only then, but also when I was around people at UND or in the DS newsroom. And I don’t think I truly realized that at the time.

I’m grateful to have had a job that I’ve genuinely enjoyed and looked forward to each time I worked.

As a newspaper, we’ve experienced many of the same things as other students, but we’ve seen them from a unique perspective — inside the newsroom we’ve spent countless hours in every Wednesday and Sunday.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s just how loyal this staff is to the paper.

There was a time a few years ago when a snowstorm stranded a majority of the editors at a conference in Minneapolis.

We were going to potentially miss putting out an issue of the paper, and yet a 9 p.m. phone call from an editor after a five-hour drive home asking if we would help start putting a paper together didn’t seem the least bit unreasonable.

We had time all along.

It’s funny how many people say they don’t have time to do things, yet they always have time for the things they put first. Everyone has the time, but they also have their priorities.

The people I’ve learned from — in the office, at the rink, during interviews — they’ve taught me that people should be a priority

Those people have stories we can tell in The Dakota Student, yet doing them justice sometimes seems a daunting task.

I won’t forget the time I saw the very first athlete I interviewed break down in a post game interview after his last game because he cared that much about this school, his team and the community.

I’ll miss meeting people and hearing about the things they care about, who suddenly sparked my interest in things I never guessed I would care about, too.

You’ve inspired me; yet I should have told you then instead of now. Maybe you won’t even see this.

But if you do — thank you all for allowing me to tell your stories.

Elizabeth Erickson is the sports editor of The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].