There is not a lot to say about senior Bryon Jansen’s contributions on the court. He did not attempt a shot in the nine minutes he played this year though he did make all four of his free-throw attempts. Unfortunately, an injured knee at the beginning of 2009 ended his Georgetown playing career.

Strangely, Bryon and I roomed together during our sophomore and junior years. Yes, probably anathema to the sports information folks, a varsity basketball player and the sports editor of the college paper lived together because they were – and still are – great friends. While the Bryon Jansen journey from practice player to wearing a jersey was a tiny blip on the radar of most people, but an important and exciting part of our friendship.

We played a lot of pick-up freshman year and together Bryon and I were on a champion intramural team made up of ringers. I remember the whole thing being a bit weird: A bunch of former high school standouts dominating the freshman league on a team put together by a kid who never played, but just wanted to be on a winning team.

It was at the end of that spring that a skinny kid from Kent, Wash. with a decent but unremarkable high school career at a small Christian school to boast, who had not played competitively in a year, realized that he never lost the urge to play. It wasn’t because the team looked good or the coach had something special, or he had something to prove, but because he genuinely enjoyed playing.

I considered myself a genuinely bad writer freshman year and had the high school essays to prove it. But I stuck on with THE HOYA because it was fun and exciting and welcoming even if I wasn’t the most talented writer. I improved though, and by January was editing other people’s writing.

Sophomore year, we went with a group of friends to the Final Four in Atlanta. I missed the opportunity to buy tickets because I had to attend a wake in New York, but Bryon somehow secured me a Hoya Blue ticket even though I had no connection to the organization.

I will never forget the day last season when I taped a copy of his profile page from the media guide to our Village B door and Bryon’s surprise that he was officially ‘on the team.’ Apparently, only Patrick Ewing Jr. had told him that he had earned a roster spot and even the paper listing him as No. 11, right above No. 15 Austin Freeman was not proof enough. He hoped he was not acting selfishly in wanting to join the team and that he had prayed well enough about the choice. I hoped he was not totally serious – the chance to join a Final Four contender – but he was because that is how humble Bryon is.

I had the media guide in my possession because as the senior sports editor at THE HOYA, I was in charge of that season’s basketball preview magazine. I had made it up to a serious level of the paper and Bryon had made it to the team. He sat on the bench with the team now, instead of with a manager who recorded game tapes. We laughed together after he banked in a three pointer against St. John’s and watched the clip a dozen times. It wasn’t that his first field goal was momentous, it was that the ESPN announcer screamed, “Byron Jensen!” The announcer sounded like everyone else we knew who mistook Bryon for Byron and Fiore for who knows what.

What secrets did I learn? What tips did I push into the paper? What stories did THE HOYA get to run because of my insider knowledge? What stories were influenced by my proximity to a team member?

None.

I never asked and he never offered. As much as I was a reporter and would have loved to have the kinds of leads a team member could give me, Bryon was a teammate, a good one, and he was not going to sell his new teammates out so I could help my team at THE HOYA. We both knew it would be wrong if I heard and published something I should not have. So I never did.

I never saw Bryon practice so I could only speculate as to what he contributed there, in the locker room or during time out huddles. I recall Jessie Sapp and DaJuan Summers speaking highly of him during media day this fall and I think Omar Wattad had a good word on him being a hard worker in practice.

But for all that hard work, the summer of lifting weights and shooting free throws in Seattle and a year of purgatory as a practice player, his career ended ingloriously when he suffered a torn ACL in practice.

For all my hard work at THE HOYA, the long nights, foregoing more traditional pre-med student activities and passing up better grades for long hours, I earned the right to cover the men’s basketball team. Then, a few days after watching the Hoyas win at Connecticut, I quit the beat and the paper. I was tired of it, the deadlines and the way I was always beholden for my time and energy.

Bryon got what he worked the hardest for at Georgetown and then had basketball pulled out from under him. I got what I had worked hardest for, but then gave up my press row seats to every game and became nothing more than a casual fan.

Our senior years will both end very differently from how we thought they would back in September. But they will certainly end in ways wildly different than we could have known that September of our freshman year when I could not write and Bryon was looking for time on an intramural court.

Fiore Mastroianni is a senior in the College and is a former senior sports editor at THE HOYA.

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