Overtime: The Fork in the Road

Thomas Aiello reflects on his decision to join The Fordham Ram.

Thomas Aiello reflects on his decision to join The Fordham Ram.

If this serves as a template of a thank you, good. That’s what this is supposed to be.

​​So many sports figures have been at a crossroads in their life: LeBron James jumping ship from Cleveland to Miami, Luis Figo leaving Barcelona for Real Madrid, Johnny Damon choosing the Yankees over the Red Sox or Primetime Sanders being on both sides of the Dallas Cowboys’ two rivals: San Francisco and Washington.

But they always had people close, telling them where to go when the fork in the road came along. Pointing out their mistakes and working to fix them, pushing them into making smart decisions at the fork in the road.

Rewinding to March 2021, I came to a fork in the road following my time in quarantine in O’Hare Hall. I placed myself out of favor in WFUV. I wasn’t doing anything productive with the career path I wanted to choose. My ambitions of working in the world of sports media were there, but I wasn’t doing any of the things I was supposed to be doing. 

I had a decision to make: make something out of my Fordham tenure to pursue the career I wanted, or be useless and work a 9-5 job with an hourly wage. 

To play the words of Yogi Berra, I took the fork in the road. 

My good friend Ryan Gregware, who also just so happens to be my current boss at WFUV, told me that I was being lazy (to my face, I might add) and needed to get my act together. One of those avenues was to write for The Fordham Ram. 

I had another friend who was in the newspaper and just so happened to be the sports editor of Volume 103: Alex Wolz. I pitched an idea about my experience in a quarantine dorm at Fordham (which he liked) but redirected me to the future (and fabulous) editor in chief of Volume 104, Ava Erickson, who was running the culture section at the time.

So beyond that, I slowly started becoming a consistent writer for the sports section of Volume 103. I wrote over the summer about three or four times all while playing catch-up with WFUV. By the time we got to fall 2021, I had found a new passion: writing. 

I kept writing blog pieces, eventually moving to feature pieces. My first two were about the NCAA’s Name, Image and Likeness protocol and what an athlete’s mindset is like. 

By the time December rolled in, it was finals time and I had seen applications for Volume 104 staff positions. I was in a good spot at that time: I was a key member of the basketball broadcasts for WFUV, as well as a consistent talent for other opportunities, I was working for the sports information department, and was doing decently well in school and social life.

I was assigned to help work a camera for a soccer game at Jack Coffey field, and was stopped by another good friend of mine in the broadcast booth: Volume 103 Managing Editor Dylan Balsamo. One of the other assistants in the sports section, Michael Hernandez was also in the room and I was talking to them about the Ram. 

Both of them, especially Dylan, encouraged me to apply. I felt unsure of myself, I didn’t know of the other applicants in consideration, and zero clue about being an editor for a publication. 

So I filled out the application, conducted my interview with Rachel, Vanessa, Hunter and Erica on Zoom and received an email that had my name next to “assistant sports editor” for Volume 104. 

As myself, Nick and Maddie put it jokingly: All three of us were very UNQUALIFIED to run the sports section. We had absolutely no idea what we were doing. 

But we had help: Hanif was a very efficient managing editor for this volume, keeping everyone on their toes and troubleshooting with precision. Michael and the copy team had milked their red pens empty every Tuesday night catching all of our formatting errors, all to help make us better. 

Sebastian, Hasna and Matt all played key roles in organization, troubleshooting and the business side of things. Pia, Nicoleta and the social media crew got things onto platforms in timely manners while making the posts look professional.

Alex and Dylan would come by every-so-often to check in on us, help with any InDesign problems we had, discuss things happening with the Fordham sports teams, entertain us and always look out for us.  

How could I forget my sports people? For Nick and Maddie: I really don’t understand how lucky I was that you guys were my editor and fellow assistant for this volume. Though I graduate this coming May, you both are going to flourish in whatever you choose to do. Thank you for teaching the three G’s, the USMNT, life in the south and one liners that pack powerful laughs.

To the entire Volume 104 staff: You have been a new branch of family for me, everyone on the staff is awesome and will continue to shape the world with positive change. It’s been a true honor working with the best staff this publication has ever had.

I would like to think most of the decisions in life I make are good, but the next time I come to a fork in the road, I’ll be taking it.