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My Way: Gabe Angieri’s Senior Column

Tomorrow I will walk across the stage in the Bryce Jordan Center and become a Penn State alum. When I do so, I’ll become the first member of my immediate family to graduate college, which is something I’m extremely proud of.

Four years ago, I graduated St. Anthony’s High School and was getting ready to take my talents to Penn State. I knew a few people from high school who were coming to Happy Valley with me, but for the most part, I was leaving my life on Long Island to spend the next four years in Central Pennsylvania. I don’t remember exactly how I felt at the time, but I wasn’t the most confident person back then, so I can only assume I was feeling a bit uneasy.

Luckily for me, upon arriving at Penn State, I immediately discovered the thing that would ultimately become my college experience. That thing was Onward State, the largest student-run media outlet in the world. Little did I know back then, I would eventually go on to lead Onward State for a full year, experiencing all the highs and lows that comes with that responsibility.

About halfway through college, I came to a stunning realization through a song that’s over 50 years old. That song changed my life and became my everyday motivation to persevere and make the most of what life handed me on a daily basis. By taking a step-by-step journey through a Frank Sinatra classic, I’m going to tell the story about how I went through these past four years “My Way.”


And now, the end is near // And so I face the final curtain

The curtain lowers on my college career tomorrow. Not a day went by this past year when I didn’t think about Onward State, and while I’ll still always be following along with the blog, that daily grind is now done. My life is completely changing, and it’s very bittersweet. This blog has given me so many opportunities, a ton of memories, and friends that I’ll have forever.

I don’t know if I’m mentally ready to move from OS, but unfortunately, that’s not up to me. This is goodbye to the blog I’ll always love and cherish.

My friend, I’ll say it clear // I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain

I’m certain when I say that being Onward State’s managing editor has been the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life. There have been some down moments over the past year, and there have been times when I’ve doubted myself. However, I’m better for it. I needed to step up to the plate and lead Onward State, and I’ve successfully done that.

A good friend of mine asked me a few weeks ago if I would do it all over again. If I had the luxury of going back in time, would I become Onward State’s managing editor again? Yes, I would. I have too much love for this blog and everyone in it to go about it any differently. I would never quit on them, and more importantly, I would never quit on myself.

I’ve lived a life that’s full // I’ve traveled each and every highway

A couple of weeks ago, I came to the realization that I’ve done all that I can do in college. My time here is done. I’ve accomplished so much and have lived such a full college experience. I led an incredible blog for a full year and dedicated my life to making it the best I possibly could. I covered Penn State football, which included trips to the Outback Bowl and Rose Bowl. I traveled out to Arizona and assisted the Associated Press in its Super Bowl 57 coverage. I had my own talk show for nearly four years. I was a sports anchor and reporter for a full semester. I’m not a big grades guy, but I did all of this while also maintaining a GPA that I’m proud of. That’s pretty awesome.

On a personal level, I met some of my best friends, fell in love, made memories I’ll remember forever, lived on my own without my parents for the first time, embarrassed The Daily Collegian in dodgeball, ate nine hot dogs in two innings at a baseball game, and became a big beer guy. Oh, and I traveled so many highways. That’s what driving to Wisconsin, Iowa, Auburn, Indiana, and Tampa to cover Penn State football games will do to you.

And more, much more than this // I did it my way

This is me taking dodgeball way too seriously during our sweep of The Daily Collegian. I’ve always been a bit too competitive.

Regrets, I’ve had a few // But then again, too few to mention

Naturally, I have some regrets from these past four years. Specifically, I have regrets from my time as managing editor. I tried my best to be a good leader. I know I wasn’t perfect, and I’m damn sure I made mistakes. But, I gave everything I had to this blog. Even if it wasn’t good enough at times, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I did all I could. As Teddy Roosevelt once said in his “Man In The Arena” speech, “There is no effort without error and shortcoming.”

So while I have regrets about the way I may have handled certain situations, I can sleep good at night knowing those experiences made me a better person and leader.

I did what I had to do // And saw it through without exemption

When it became apparent that we didn’t have a replacement for former Managing Editor Matt DiSanto, I stepped up to the plate. I didn’t really think about the logistics of it, so I basically just dove in blind. I was primarily a sports writer before leading OS, so I was entering uncharted territory. When I realized that, that scared me…a lot. However, there was no going back.

I took this role head-on. I worked my ass off to become more than a sports writer and to make sure I was capable of doing everything. I felt like some people doubted whether I could do this, and I wanted to prove them wrong. I had a chip on my shoulder, which is a common theme throughout my life. I don’t like failing, and I made it my mission to make sure I wouldn’t fail as managing editor.

I planned each charted course // Each careful step along the byway

For the past year, my life revolved around Onward State. Everything I did was planned around my OS responsibilities. I made this blog my profession, my passion, and my No. 1 priority.

My journey this past year was anything but your typical road. There were bumps, wrong turns, reroutes, and near-crashes. However, despite the chaotic journey, I made it to my desired destination a better man, which in the end, was always my goal.

And more, much more than this // I did it my way

Remember when Penn State was smelling roses? That was a fun time.

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew, when I bit off more than I could chew // But through it all, when there was doubt, I ate it up and spit it out

When I took over as managing editor, I was absolutely terrified. I didn’t feel ready at all and felt lost. I very much thought I bit off more than I could chew, and I was desperately trying to figure out how I was going to make it through the next year of my life with, what I thought was, the weight of the world on my shoulders. For the longest time, I was able to defer to those in higher positions than me with any questions I may have had. Suddenly, I became the person people were deferring to, and I had to figure my shit out quickly before I disappointed anyone.

Despite all the self-doubt, I turned into the leader I wanted myself to be. While I never felt like a hit a full groove during my time at the helm, my responsibilities became easier and more routine, and my confidence started to grow. I was doing it.

I faced it all, and I stood tall // And did it my way

My two best friends and roommates — Frankie Marzano and Alex Petersen

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried // I’ve had my fill, my share of losing

While I certainly experienced the highest of highs while in college, I’ve also hit some pretty low lows. I haven’t really touched on it yet in this column, and I don’t feel the need to get too specific, but my life has changed since I stepped foot in State College nearly four years ago. As a freshman, my entire family dynamic changed, and that hit me really hard. It’s something I kept quiet about at the time and didn’t really speak much about it, but man, that was tough. I’ve had family members I was really close to pass away. I lost friendships. These are things everyone goes through, so I’ll save you the sob story, but for me and what I value, it hit hard.

My grandpa was the hardest-working man I knew.

Being in a position of leadership, you’re going to be criticized — trust me, I’ve learned that well. Many will criticize you, but very few will do it to your face. A lot of criticism happens behind your back, and while it can be disheartening at times, I learned to embrace it. So while criticism may be a “loss” for some, it’s never that for me because I know what am, and I know what I’m not. I know where I’ve succeeded, and I’m aware of where I’ve come up short. It’s all love, regardless of if I had to hear some ~things~ through the grapevine.

One of my best friends, Colleen Nersten, was the best at giving me constructive criticism. She was never afraid to tell me when I wasn’t doing my job properly, and she’s one of the main reasons why I became the managing editor that I did. I say it all the time — I couldn’t have run this blog without her.

Fall 2019 contrib class was STRONG, man.

And now, as tears subside // I find it all so amusing

Through all the tears, stress, and sleepless nights, I made it to the finish line with a college career I’m so proud of. I’m at peace with how these past four years, specifically the past year, went. I laugh when I think back on all the hard times because ultimately it was all part of the journey. Leading Onward State made me a better and more confident person.

As I continue to reflect on these past four years, I can’t help but think about all the Onward State legends who came before me, especially those who mentored me when I first joined staff and beyond. Mikey Mandarino, Anthony Colucci, Will Pegler, and Ryan Parsons immediately come to mind. I credit them for how my OS tenure unfolded, and I can’t thank them enough for their guidance and friendship.

The dream team

I also want to use this opportunity to thank my staff one more time. Thank you for embracing me and allowing me to lead you this past year. While everyone may not have agreed with every decision I made, I always tried to do things that were in the best interest of the blog. That, of course, didn’t always play out the way I had hoped, but hindsight is 20/20, right?

FTB

Being Onward State’s managing editor has been the honor of my life. For The Blog, always.

To think I did all that, and may I say not in a shy way // Oh no, oh no not me, I did it my way

Jump around

For what is a man, what has he got? // If not himself, then he has naught

These 16 words, to me, are the most influential and powerful words in this beautiful song. Confidence has always been something I struggled with, in all aspects of my life. My biggest takeaway from this song is that you have to be your own biggest fan. Nothing matters in life if you don’t believe in yourself. As long as you have yourself, you can make anything work.

For a short time, my mom believed in me, my dad believed in me, my girlfriend believed in me, and so many of my friends and colleagues believed in me as I embarked on this journey…but I didn’t believe in me. As much as I appreciated it, none of their belief meant anything because it honestly didn’t matter. I needed to believe in myself if I was going to make this work. There was a time when I would play “My Way” right when I woke up every single day just to get myself in the right mindset. Eventually, due in large part to these 16 words, I ended up believing in myself. It sounds corny, but again, we’re talking about me. This is the way I did it.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better,” Roosevelt said in his Man In The Arena speech. “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.”

To say the things he truly feels // And not the words of one who kneels

This column has been strange because I very rarely give myself credit. I’m so incredibly hard on myself, so even when I do something “good,” I’m always thinking about how I can make it great. However, I’m really letting myself be cocky, in a way. I’m obviously biased, but I don’t think there’s a more challenging role a student at this university can take on then being the managing editor of Onward State. You never truly understand that until you’re living it, but the daily grind is unexplainable. News isn’t on a 9 to 5 schedule, so you’re always on the clock…even when you’re on your fifth tall Miller at A’s.

I’ve written stories that have pissed people off, and I’ve written pieces that people close to me disagreed with. That’s OK. As long as I could always justify why I was writing something, which I was always able to do, it doesn’t matter what other people think. For example, when a frat gets suspended, it’s pretty standard to write a story about it, even if mad frat bros threaten to take “legal action” after the fact (still waiting on the “legal action,” by the way). When the university puts its students in danger, it deserves to get called out for it. And, when student leaders attempt to hide information from the public, people need to know about it. If you don’t want to be in the news, don’t make news. It’s simple, really.

The record shows I took the blows // And did it my way

If you’re still reading at this point, then wow, you must really feel obligated care about me and what I’m saying. I’m going to use this section to thank some people.

  • Mom — Thank you for being my biggest fan and supporter…and for answering my ridiculous laundry and cooking questions over and over again. I’m a direct byproduct of how you and Dad raised me, and I can’t thank you enough for everything. You’re the strongest woman I know. I work hard every day to make you proud.
We used to make our own sauce. Does it get any more Italian?
  • Dad — What can I say, pops? Thanks for making me the man I am today. Whether it be for a real-life concern or a for a casual conversation about the Mets or Jets, I know you’re always there for me in a pinch. There’s no way I’d be able to get through these last four years without your support, and I hope I’ve made you proud.
J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets
  • Andrew & Anthony — I wouldn’t be the person I am today without you two. I can always rely on you guys for anything, and it’s comforting to know that you’re always by my side. I’m proud of a lot of things in life, but nothing makes me more proud than being your little brother.
CTGL
  • Casey — I’m grateful Penn State brought us together. When I found out you were a Mets, Jets, and Knicks fan, that actually sealed the deal. Thank you for always being there for me and always knowing how to put a smile on my face. I don’t know what I’d do without you.
Dating a girl in a sorority introduced me to the ~incredible~ formals at Stage West.
  • All my close friends — I’m not going to individually name friends because that’s how I get in trouble, but you all know who you are. I’m me because of all of you. I’ll miss our banter, nights out, sports discussions, and constant inside jokes. I hope we all stay close despite the evident distance between us.
The fellas at Luella’s — the best restaurant in America.
  • Mike Poorman and John Affleck — I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without you two. Mike, you took me under your wing on the Penn State football beat and served as a mentor for me. You made me feel comfortable, and I knew I could always run a potential question/story idea by you. I can’t thank you enough. John, I took two of your classes here at Penn State and learned so much and had a blast. That’s not even where it begins. You believed in me and gave me the opportunity to cover the Super Bowl. Your belief in me prompted one of the greatest experiences of my life. I hope I justified your decision with my work.

Yes…it was my way

I wouldn’t trade my experience at Penn State for anything. Through it all, I truly feel that I did do it my way. Thank you to everyone who has made an impact on me. I hope I had the same impact on you.

For those of you who actually made it to the end of this, I thank you. You may be thinking, “Wow, this is a really self-centered column.” If you think that, I see your point of view, and I won’t blame you for missing the underlying message. Ultimately, I wanted my last post on this site to be a great representation of the way my college career went… My Way.

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

After a four-year career with Onward State, Gabe is now a college graduate and off to the real world. He shockingly served as the blog’s managing editor during the 2022-23 school year and covered football for much of his Onward State tenure, including trips to the Outback Bowl and Rose Bowl. For any professional inquiries, please email Gabe at [email protected]. You can still see his bad sports takes on Twitter at @gabeangieri.

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