A new outlook in retrospect


Cole Jacobson

I’ll start this off with a disclaimer; I’m only writing this because the Chronicle’s Opinion section needed to fill space, and I happened to be visiting the staff’s layout session this weekend. And I say that not to diss the Opinion writers, but to justify to myself that I’m writing for a high school newspaper a year after I graduated, and to let my beloved Sports section know that I don’t intend to betray them by writing this.

I could write pretty extensively about my freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania, giving some generic claims like you’ll be academically prepared coming from Harvard-Westlake, you’ll find enjoyable extracurricular activities, you’ll meet a great group of friends and so on.

I wholeheartedly agree that these statements are true, and I loved my freshman year. But considering the Chronicle’s audience, I figure I should talk more about the pride I’ve had for Harvard-Westlake in my first year away.

First off, as the self-proclaimed “Best to Ever do It” within the Sports section, I obviously have to comment on high school sports, and I have to say the state of Harvard-Westlake athletics is strong. I followed along on HWTV as my former football teammates shocked the media, their classmates and potentially even themselves en route to the school’s first playoff win since 2009 – with perhaps a bit of jealousy that my team couldn’t do the same a year ago. Similarly, I took pride in the fact that my old boys’ track team finished in the top three of California’s best league for the third consecutive season.

As for the sports I didn’t play, reading about boys’ basketball’s run to a state title with a first-year coach, girls’ basketball qualifying for the CIF-SS Open Division, boys’ cross country taking a CIF-SS title, lacrosse reaching the divisional semifinals, baseball making its way through the playoffs and water polo coming within a goal of its third straight mythical national title, there’s no question that Wolverine sports are continuing to dominate across the board.

Additionally, I can’t write a column in this paper without giving a shout out to my Sports section. With a staff that only includes one senior in Bennett Gross ’16, both he and my former apprentices in the class of 2017 have stepped up dramatically and made me proud with some great content throughout the year, whether it was Joe Levin’s ’17 viral column on my former teammate Marshal Cohen ’16 or the consistently killer coverage by Gross and Jake Liker ’17 on the internet sensation of Cassius Stanley ’19.

Overall, not only have you all proved that people besides me were actually capable of live-Tweeting games or taking photos all along, but you’ve also remained a hilarious bunch and welcomed me back whenever I’ve been back in town, and I’m glad to call you guys my family even from 2,500 miles away.

As is fairly obvious from the preceding paragraphs, there were facets of high school that I missed. I would’ve been down for another chance to throw on the pads for Harvard-Westlake – feelings exacerbated even further by the success of this year’s team. I saw the incredible job done by Mike Mapes ’16, Gabe Golob ’16 and the rest of the Head Fanatics this year, and longed for an experience like that as I sat in lackluster student sections during Penn games. I looked back fondly on the in-class Backyard Baseball and the Dr. Seuss-inspired Tweets from my senior year with the Chronicle, aware that The Daily Pennsylvanian hasn’t offered such opportunities yet.

Thus, while I’ve loved my time at Penn so far, Harvard-Westlake will always be a part of me. Is it weird that combining my visit to the Harvard-Westlake football practice and my time spent with Chronicle layout, I’ve now spent three of my five days since arriving back in L.A. on campus – a ratio that has potential to increase further if I’m using the school’s weight room during the summer? Probably, but I still embrace it. This school played a key role in shaping me as a person, and that lesson has reached me arguably as much as any of the ones I’ve picked up in Philadelphia.