Why Fall 2015 was a sad semester for DI Sports

By Peter Bailey-Wells

The Daily Illini sports staff lost another member of its extended family when former staffer Deep Chatterjee passed away.

Deep hadn’t done any work for us since 2014 ended — he wasn’t a journalism student, and wasn’t integrated into the journalism community like Brett Lerner, who passed away in October and would have turned 21 on Monday.

But that doesn’t mean Deep leaving us doesn’t hurt. When you’re young and someone you know dies, regardless of how close you were to them, it’s hard not to feel like you got punched in the gut. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Deep and Brett and the scores of college students nationwide who don’t make it from convocation to graduation weren’t supposed to leave us so early.

The feeling reminds me of the James Taylor song “Fire and Rain.” Taylor sings:

I’ve seen fire, and I’ve seen rain. I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end. I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend. But I always thought that I’d see you again.

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It’s unusually cruel that Deep passed away because — like Brett — he had so much more to accomplish. We didn’t know if Deep would ever walk back through our doors with an idea for a video or a column, but we always assumed we would see him on the Quad, at the bars or walking around Champaign-Urbana.

On a personal note, I really didn’t know Deep nearly as well as I knew Brett, but there’s not much I wouldn’t trade to get both of them back here with us for a little longer.

Deep’s roommates — who are in all of our thoughts — include a pair of former DI Sports staffers. Nick Fortin covered men’s basketball for us last year and Alex Ortiz was our inaugural sports video editor and Deep was his first employee. The most consistent video series Alex produced last year was a roundtable of the three of them. In the video, Nick is as goofy as usual, Alex is as serious and business-like as he ever is and Deep is somewhat quiet but clearly knows what he’s talking about.

Although all three had moved on to different things, Alex and Nick would often join us out on campus on Thursday nights each week and a few times Deep came with them. They were no longer our co-workers, but they were still our friends.

Deep also did a few podcasts with Dan Collins, one of our assistant sports editors, and the pair, who love soccer, delve into the Premier League with gusto. Deep was mostly following the lead of his more journalism-minded peers, but he dived in to the work and made it more enjoyable for those of us who watched him do it.

Along the lefthand side of this story are several samples of Deep’s work. Please take a look at them.

We’re tired of tragedy here in the DI Sports department. Surely we aren’t as tired as the families of Brett Lerner and Deep Chatterjee, and we certainly aren’t asking for special treatment. But, as we roll into 2016, we’d like to suggest that you be extra appreciative of your loved ones — as we will be appreciative of ours.

Because in 2015, we lost a pair of guys who we always thought we’d see again.

Peter is a junior in Media.
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