Rob Piersall Reflects On His Time At The New Paltz Oracle

Perhaps my biggest regret in my time at SUNY New Paltz is not having joined The Oracle sooner.

When I transferred here in Fall 2015, the first thing my R.A. told me to do when he found out I wanted to be a journalist was to go to The Oracle office and pick up a story. He asked me the entire year each time he saw me if I had reached out yet. I didn’t. 

I don’t know why I didn’t, but I have kicked myself ever since for not taking his advice. 

It wasn’t until a calendar year later when I had class with then-managing editor of The Oracle, Jack O’Brien. I had mentioned when introducing myself to the class that I wrote for a website called Mets Merized and had been for a couple years.

We chatted after class often, and he said I should pick up a story in the sports section. That semester, I finally did. 

The first story I did was on men’s basketball, and I haven’t looked back since. I loved seeing my byline published in the physical copy of the paper and being able to get the scoop on what was going on around New Paltz. 

That was the only story I picked up that semester, but it must have made a good impression, because a week or so later, then-Sports Editor Melissa Kramer sent me an email asking if I would like to join the staff as a copy editor for the Spring 2017 semester. 

I had a tenuous idea of what a copy editor was, but I accepted because a position with the word “editor” in it must be a good thing. 

In the email, Melissa invited me to the final production night of the Fall 2016 semester so I could get a taste of what the newsroom was like before diving in the next semester.

I was so nervous.

I walked into the office to a room of mostly unfamiliar faces and people I kind of knew from class and didn’t know what to do.

Anthony Mitthauer-Orza, who would be my fellow sports copy editor the following semester, took me under his wing, sat next to me and showed me the ropes. 

I quickly adapted to the flow of copy editing and cracked some probably unfunny jokes in order to loosen myself up, and hey, it worked. I elicited some laughs and struck some conversations and the rest was history. 

Here we are, a year and a half later, and I have been fortunate enough to go from sports copy editor to second-in-command. 

Time flies and it’s bittersweet having to say goodbye to The Oracle, but when I think back to my time at New Paltz, some of my fondest moments will have taken place in the friendly confines of these four orange walls. 

Without further adieu, I want to thank some of the best friends, colleagues and wonderful people I could have ever asked for in my young life so far.

Jack O’Brien: Jack, without you, I don’t know if I would have ever made my way up to the fourth floor of the SUB to pick up a story. Your persistence in getting me to take that first story was the first push I needed, and I can’t thank you enough. Working under your tutelage last spring made me understand how important The Oracle is and how silly it is to be a journalism major here and not work for the on-campus publication. I leave you with my parting words: Let’s get f*cking freaky now.

Mike Rosen: Mike, I remember meeting you the first time I was in the office. We quickly bonded over the Mets, you added me on Facebook, and most importantly, you treated me like a friend who you’d known for 10 years and made my transition to The Oracle a very comfortable one. Working as your copy editor for two semesters was a delight, and I’m proud to say that in those two semesters, our section thrived week in and week out. Thanks for always giving me a Devils column each week and bringing some new and fresh ideas to the section. You’re going to do great in graduate school and I know for a fact you’re going to be a big shot in the sports world one day. 

Anthony Orza: Anthony, or as I like to call you, Tony, you are one of the best, most genuine people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in my life. Whether I was stressed, nervous or needed a helping hand, your calming demeanor always helped me through it. It was a blast having you by my side as sports copy editor last spring and seeing you flourish as features editor this past fall. While I missed having you in the office this semester, I know that you needed preparation to accomplish all the great things you are going to. Don’t forget the Lonely Man’s Pizza or That Can Be Found In Aisle Six. I know I won’t! 

Matt Ferremi: First and foremost, I just want to tell you that I’m so glad you were around this year. Being a super senior is hard, but when you have a friend who is in the same boat as you, it makes things a whole lot easier. When you joined the sports section replacing Anthony, we never missed a beat. We were just as strong this past fall as we were last spring. You embraced your roll as copy editor immediately and took the news section by its horns and did a terrific job. I’ll forever smile at the memories of us cracking “It’s Always Sunny” jokes, quoting Francesa, putting B’s in front of words that don’t need them and having breakfast special after breakfast special at Bistro. You’re one of the best friends I’ve ever made and I can’t express how much fun I had working with you this year. I can’t wait for our next trip to Cooperstown, and booling out in Philly this summer. 

Rachael Purtell: My fearless leader. We bonded immediately over having the same initials and fondly referred to each other as alter egos. Right off the bat, I admired how hard you worked, whether it was as news editor, managing editor or working alongside you as EIC. You were a great coworker, but an even better friend. We have taken this paper to new heights and I have no doubt in my mind that in the next year, you are going to do even more terrific things with it. All the wing nights, hang sessions at Pencil Trill, diving for beer pong balls and bar crawls will be some of my finest memories from my last year plus on the paper. If anyone is qualified to run this paper, it’s you and I’ll be watching with a smile on my face from the sidelines. I love you Rach and we are going to wreak havoc on New Paltz this summer. HERE WE GO HAWKS! 

Brandon Doerrer: I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed having you in the office this semester. Even though we haven’t hung out as much this spring as I would have liked, you are always on my mind and I know you’re doing great things with your internships and will continue to do great things in the future. Our hangs last year were so much fun and since you’re just an exit away on the thruway, I hope you come hang this summer. 

Amanda Copkov: Amanda, you’re the kind of person who I always saw from a distance and was like “Man, I really want to be friends with that person!” Well, upon joining the paper, we really hit it off. You always laughed at my silly jokes and listened to bomb music, making production nights and conversations such a pleasure. I’m glad we got to see The Menzingers last year together and just chatting with you on the ride home was super rad. I hope France is treating you well, and when you come back to the states, we will be sure to throw some ‘bo’s in the pit. 

Sam Manzella: Sam, you are one of the most brilliant writers and people I have had the pleasure of working with. You already have an awesome journalism gig, and you’re just getting started. You are going to be so successful in life and I am so excited to read all the awesome stuff I know you are going to come out with. By the way, we still need to have our Huckleberry date! I’ll hold you to that! 

Natalie Aguilar: Well, Natalie. The position of managing editor is yours now. And it’s well-deserved. You did a complete 180 after the first production night and have done better and better each week since then. Your section this semester was outstanding and I have no doubt you are going to thrive in this role because you have the great personality and characteristics to do so. Take it and run with it, because this paper is going to be yours one day. If you ever need anything, I’m just a phone call away! 

I would like to also thank Melanie Zerah who will know what I mean by “” and “Anthony Mitthauer-Orza?” and would copy edit something for me in a second when I asked, Meg Tohill, who could bust into singing “Wannabe” within .02 seconds of it playing, Jackson Shrout who I shared countless hours of conversation with about music and more specifically Carly Rae Jepsen, Erica Ascher who is one of the kindest people I ever met and taught me what “1s” “2s” and “3s” were on my first production night and answered all my questions without hesitation and Briana Bonfiglio who always chose the best pop-punk songs to play during production night. 

As for my new staffers, you have been terrific and I’m so happy to see how you have bonded and what the future holds with it in your hands. I know Max Freebern is going to be one of the best news editors this paper has seen with his journalistic mind, Gabby Wood is going to bring a beautiful flair to the arts and entertainment section while continuing to write the most savage of album reviews. Jake Mauriello is going to bring his wittiness and light-heartedness to features and Jimmy O’Neill is going to continue running the sports section like a boss, only this time there will be a lot less turbulence. 

To Alicia McGowan, Matt Schenfeld, Nicole Bressi, Madalyn Alfonso and Cloey Callahan, you are a great core that is going to help the new copy editors in the future blossom into the terrific writers, leaders and friends you all are. Julia Thornton, your presence will be missed, but you are off to bigger and better things at Binghamton. And to Emma Hines and Schuyler Forsythe, you guys don’t get enough credit because you don’t have bylines, but our paper wouldn’t be nearly as aesthetically pleasing if it wasn’t for your contributions. 

Adam Bosch, Lisa Phillips, James Gormley, Nancy Heiz, Holly George-Warren and Howie Good: thank you for all the important advice and lessons both in and out of the classroom in my time at New Paltz. Every article I write, I write with you in mind. Thanks for being such pivotal figures in my life and making me into a 100 percent better writer and person. 

I leave you guys with my AP stylebook so you can daddy up when need be, countless pens to throw on production nights (but not too hard!), the ability to play Brokencyde to loosen everyone up and my affinity for Main Street Bistro’s breakfast specials, who single-handedly fueled me during publication weeks.  

New Paltz Oracle, farewell and thanks for all the beautiful memories.