The independent news organization of Duke University

I just want to say thank you

farewell column

Thank goodness I canceled my plans to golf that day. Something in the universe must have told me that shooting 120 should wait until another day. 

Because of that, I was at my desk instead of on the seventh hole on the day when I got the news that Mike Krzyzewski was retiring. That started the second-craziest 48 hours of my life, and after hours of briefs, columns and social media posts, I was texting Vol. 115 Sports Editor Derek Saul.

“You should highkey fly in for press conference,” he wrote. A few hours after that, I was on the red-eye from LAX to RDU to attend Krzyzewski’s first press conference since the news of his retirement broke. 

I had no way of knowing it then, but some of the words Coach K said at his retirement press conference in June 2021 are the same ones repeating in my head now: “How lucky are we.”

I’ll concede maybe my single year as sports editor and Coach K’s 42 years as head coach of Duke aren’t exactly an apples to apples comparison, but I am feeling pretty lucky right now. 

From being in the Superdome for the Final Four surrounded by 70,000 fans for Duke-North Carolina in Coach K’s final game, to covering the same games as sports reporters who I look up to like Dana O’Neil and Wright Thompson, my time as sports editor has been filled with opportunities that I truly would not have gotten anywhere else.

I spent a Tuesday night in November at Madison Square Garden covering Duke-Kentucky with a guy I met in my first week at The Chronicle and has since turned into one of my closest friends. Four months later, I was there for Duke’s shocking home loss against North Carolina … and the one against Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship. A month after that, I stood in the tunnels of the Superdome and watched Krzyzewski ride off in a golf cart with his wife Mickie in what turned out to be his last public appearance as the Duke head coach. 

Those times are just as important to me though as the late nights in the office where we spitballed more corny headline ideas with the letter “K” than I can possibly count. And the two nights I spent wandering through K-Ville talking to students in the final days of Krzyzewski’s K-Ville

Don’t get me wrong, the big moments were truly special, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from The Chronicle, it’s that you never know when a lifelong memory is going to fall into your lap. I first realized that after I became “the kid who got roasted by Coach K,” and it’s something that has held true since then, although maybe not quite to the same level as going viral on Twitter for 48 hours. (Those were the craziest 48 hours of my life.)  

When I first walked into The Chronicle office, I had a plan: major in economics, and this whole journalism thing would be a fun hobby to do when I had time between any of the finance clubs I expected to join. 

Fast forward to now and I am in a grand total of zero economics clubs. My major is English because The Chronicle made me realize that my true passion is reading and writing (no, Coach K did not play a role in me switching majors). I want to stay in journalism after college, and I couldn’t be more excited about that future. 

I have The Chronicle to thank for that, and this past year as sports editor in particular. It goes all the way back to Derek welcoming me in when I was a clueless freshman and our Vol. 116 Sports Editor Evan Kolin taking me under his wing last year. To Max Rego and Alex Jackson, you both have had my back this entire year and never flinched when Sunday nights came around and we had seven articles to edit by Monday morning, and for that, I thank you. To everyone else on staff, I thank you for writing rich stories about Duke’s 27 Division I sports and having a relentless commitment to covering all that goes on in Duke Athletics. 

I’ll miss the corner desk in 301 Flowers but I know the new owner of that spot has a bright time as sports editor of his own ahead. 

Now, I think I’m going to go makeup that missed tee time. 

Jake Piazza is a Trinity junior and was sports editor of The Chronicle’s 117th volume.


Jake C. Piazza

Jake Piazza is a Trinity senior and was sports editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.

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