Forever a Kernelite: saying goodbye


Kentucky Kernel sports editor Hunter Shelton peers over an edition of the Kentucky Kernel inside McVey Hall in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb

Hunter Shelton

With all of my heart, I am going to miss being a part of the Kentucky Kernel. I wish that I had some profound analogy to accompany this lede, but frankly I’m just sad.

There’s zero time to process any of the emotions that tag along with the college experience. In a flash I went from stumbling my way around campus looking for White Hall, to soaking in the somewhat pungent air that usually accompanied McVey Hall for hours, laid back on the illustrious blue couch that dingily sat in the Kernel office.

They say time flies, and my four years at Kentucky soared.

Growing up in Lexington, I was indifferent about attending UK. I wanted to branch out and do the whole “new place, new me” thing, but I understood that for many reasons, staying home was the smart choice.

I breezed through high school in the most average manner possible. I didn’t do any extracurriculars, my time playing baseball was finished, I simply went to school, got my grades and went on my way.

When the time came to think about college, I knew I wanted to go, but I had no idea what I wanted to study.

Journalism ending up being my first and only choice. My writing skills were decent, and I knew that writing about sports in some facet was a possibility, but the whole thing was relatively unknown to me at the time. Tates Creek High School had no functioning newspaper, so I never got that first taste of student journalism until college.

Eventually, I got involved at the Kernel and began to realize that my once lackadaisical affection for writing about sports had turned into an ignited love and passion for storytelling through college athletics.

The Kentucky mens tennis beat will always have a special place in my heart for being the first team I covered on a regular basis. Looking back, it was drab and shabby writing at best, but i’ll be damned if I didn’t spend numerous nights on the bleachers inside the Boone, crafting those clever 450-word gamers.

However, nothing can compare to the past two semesters. Being sports editor has been a true privilege and has provided me with some of the most fond memories of my life.

I could list the games and the venues forever, but sitting courtside at Madison Square Garden for Kentucky versus Duke takes the cake, and I can’t imagine that anywhere I go for the foreseeable future in my sports reporting career will top that.

While I will cherish some of the stories that have come from my coverage of games, I will value the stories and moments that I made with my fellow Kernelites even more.

There’s so many things to say about the Kernel. Aside from producing award-winning student journalism, it provided me with a crew of unbelievably talented individuals, many of whom I now call friends. I finally found that nook I was looking for, which is why i’m sad my tenure is coming to a close.

I have no doubts about my future as a sports journalist, but I do doubt that i’ll ever work somewhere as special as the Kernel.

The countless nights spitballing headlines, searching for that final sentence to finish a story, catching that second wind once midnight rolls around. The craziness and the camaraderie of it all is a frazzled whirlwind that manages to conclude in a neat bow, with a fresh newspaper hitting the stands around campus the next morning.

It’s all worth it, and every time one of those nights ends, I can’t wait for the next one. But there won’t be a next one for me.

When you find that special something you care deeply about, you do anything you can to stick around. As great as another year as sports editor sounds, that ol’ diploma is calling my name, and I’m not so sure I can stomach another handful of political science electives.

I don’t want to say goodbye to the Kernel. As graduation day gets closer and closer, I find it harder to compress my feelings of happiness, sadness and uncertainty about the future.

Regardless, i’ll leave Rupp Arena on May 6 as a graduate from the University of Kentucky and begin to pursue my career as a sports reporter. Thanks to the top-notch people involved with the best student newspaper in the Commonwealth, i’ll be ready to tackle any deadline that comes my way.

Here’s to the Kernel. Support student journalism!