The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

Column | The Last Dance

Jermaine+Sykes%2C+assistant+sports+editor%2C+poses+for+a+photo+with+a+copy+of+The+Pitt+News+March+Madness+Edition.
Nate Yonamine | Assistant Visual Editor
Jermaine Sykes, assistant sports editor, poses for a photo with a copy of The Pitt News March Madness Edition.

I’m an opinionated person, so it’s natural that over my time at The Pitt News, I loved writing sports columns. I love writing, period, as I’ve written nearly 100 articles since joining The Pitt News in my sophomore year.

But this is a column I’ve dreaded writing since I took the job as assistant sports editor. How could I possibly live up to the amazing senior columns written by my predecessors? 

Comparing myself to others is something I’ve done my entire life. It’s something that has haunted me and caused me to doubt myself at times. 

These thoughts have affected me for as long as I can remember. Whether it was comparing my play on the football field to my brothers and teammates or comparing my grades on a test with friends in middle school, I was always comparing myself to something.

A big part of the reason why I am in Pittsburgh is because of this false sense of imposter syndrome. I loved the University of Pittsburgh when I was applying, but I would be lying if I didn’t say a huge driving factor in coming here was to escape.

As a Maryland native, I thought by coming to Pitt, I’d escape from this constant comparison and live my life carefree. But it only worsened. 

The start of college was nothing like I expected it. During my first year, I struggled through my coursework as the effects of COVID-19 kept me trapped in my dorm room with nothing to do but “study” — AKA, play video games — and hang out with my friends.

The effects of this imposter syndrome tripled in one evening. As I walked down my Nordenberg dorm hall, I overheard a person talking about me.

“Jermaine is a cool guy,” the person said. “But how does a guy like him even get into a school like this?”

Honestly, I wondered the exact same thing. How does a guy like me end up here? What were my qualifications? What am I even doing with my time?

Starting my sophomore year, I began focusing on what I could control. I got involved with The Pitt News and started writing for the sports desk, which isn’t something I ever imagined myself doing. 

One thing I learned quickly was that there’s no point in comparing my writing to others. That wouldn’t make my writing any better. In fact, my first article with TPN probably set a record for most editor comments ever. But like anything, you get better with reps.

Over the years, I got better and better, and while never perfect, I think that my effort to show up and try put me in positions to do cool things. 

I believe my effort is what got me an opportunity to cover Pitt men’s basketball in my junior and senior years. Traveling to cover games and connecting with people in the industry is something I’ll cherish and never forget. 

The most beneficial opportunity I got while with TPN was when I was offered the assistant sports editor position. I had big shoes to fill, following in the footsteps of TPN sports desk legends Brian Sherry, Richie Smiechowski, Dalton Coppola and Stephen Thompson.

Whether I lived up to their footsteps or not, I am proud of what Brian and I accomplished. We hired and trained new writers, created a fun and inclusive environment and led the sports desk’s increased article output in 2023-24. 

I am proud that I used my editor position not as a power or scrutiny tool, but as a way to make writers better. I tried my best to mentor them and I wanted them to know they could always rely on me for advice or help with anything. The position taught me that I could use my leadership skills to help promote the success of others. Leadership means more than just giving orders and giving feedback. 

I am proud that I joined an editorial team full of talented individuals who will do great things with their lives. I hope that I was able to help them, or at least put a smile on their faces every once in a while.

To my successors, Aidan Kasner and Matthew Scabilloni, I wish you the best of luck, but I know you don’t need it. I know my guidance and training, along with your talent and creativity, will take the sports desk to even greater heights.

As I bid farewell to The Pitt News, I don’t know if I’ll ever write another column, or article, again. My calling is to continue to help and encourage the growth of people, and I’m not sure what is in store for me. But regardless, I feel accomplished that I can ride off into the sunset. Like Michael Jordan in 1998, my last dance ended with victory.

But whether I venture into journalism again or not, what I am most proud of is, well, myself. I learned that comparing myself to others gets me nowhere. Hard work, effort, positivity and leadership are things that will show. Another person’s acknowledgment and recognition may seem enticing, but nothing is a better feeling than self-fulfillment.

About the Contributor
Jermaine Sykes, Assistant Sports Editor
Jermaine Sykes is the Assistant Sports Editor for The Pitt News. He is a part of the College of Business and Administration class of 2024 and is double majoring in Marketing and Human Resources Management. He is also pursuing a Sports Management certificate and an Economics minor. He has written over 90 articles as a member of the sports staff.