I went back and forth last spring deciding whether to apply for the position of sports columnist for The Ithacan. Writing for each week’s issue was something I had not taken on before, and I decided to go for it. I could not be happier. Looking back over the past four years, taking myself out of my comfort zone has led to some of my best memories.
I should first thank my editors, Matt Kelly and Taylor Palmer, for encouraging me to pursue any column idea that has popped into my head. That freedom to pursue any story that caught my attention has been the most enjoyable aspect of writing this column week in and week out. Some of my most far-out ideas, like organizing a half-court shootout or writing about the odd relationship of cross country runners and potheads, have become some of my favorite columns.
After my second column of the year, regarding the NFL preseason, Professor Mead Loop informed me, in front of my entire journalism ethics class, that what I had written was more of a “glorified blog post” than an actual column. A columnist, he told me, should bring something more to a column than just their opinion, be it personal experience or original reporting. I protested a little, but I knew deep down that with writing that column, I kept myself firmly planted in my comfort zone. Since then, I have done my best to heed Professor Loop’s advice — keep this column away from simply being a clone of the sports rants that can be found all over TV, the Internet and in print.
I have often written about my experience as a member of the Bombers cross country and track teams. As I reflected on what four years as an athlete have meant to me, one memory from this past fall stood out in particular.
With a mile to go in the New York State Cross Country Championships, the course entered a brutal section of hills until the finish, and I hate hills. As my lungs burned, my legs shook as I swerved side-to-side, desperate to hold onto my position in third place. I heard the voice of my coach, Jim Nichols, yelling at me, “You love this!” My first thought was: “Are you kidding me? I am completely miserable.” Then, after a moment, I realized he was right. Despite the pain I was in, there was nowhere else in the world I would have rather been.
For the first time in my life, I cannot say what I will be doing in six months, but I cross my fingers that it includes running and writing about sports. No matter what the future holds, I can say without a doubt that it has been a great four years as a Bomber.