Since October 2018, I’ve had a document saved on my laptop simply titled, “Is this a senior column?” It began as an ordinary weekly column before I decided it should be saved for a more momentous occasion. So I changed everything to past tense, as if I was reflecting on that week from a later perspective (like now), and saved it for a later date. Here’s the (mostly) unedited text of that document:
In October of 2018, I had a pretty terrible week. I’ll save you the specifics, but let’s just say it was the combination of several not-so-pleasant events in my personal life.
That week, more than any time in my life, I could’ve used sports to rescue me from my thoughts. I desperately could’ve used the uniquely powerful capability of sports to brighten our days and, in that moment most of all, distract us from reality.
Instead, that week contained some of the worst three days of sports that I’ve ever experienced. On Sunday, the 1-3 Giants looked like they had finally figured out how to play football. Eli Manning led an inspiring fourth-quarter comeback, and it seemed a season-saving win was on the horizon. Then the Panther’s Graham Gano hit a ludicrous game-winning field goal from 63 yards out as time expired.
The next day, the Yankees took on the Red Sox in the Bronx, with the ALDS tied at 1-1. They lost that game, 16-1. The very next day, the Yankees were eliminated by Boston when their ninth inning comeback fell short in heartbreaking fashion.
It’s always painful when the Giants lose, or especially when Yankees lose to the Sox — but on top of everything else, it was almost unbearable. While miserably watching the Yankees’ once-promising season come to its brutal end, I remember being told by a friend, “Just remember, that game has no direct impact on your life.”
In a way, he was right. What does a bunch of men hitting a ball with a stick have anything to do with my life? Aaron Judge is hitting that home run whether I’m watching or not, Aaron Boone is waiting too long to pull that pitcher no matter how loud I yell at my TV.
But he was also wrong. Because whether for good or worse, sports, and the teams that I root for, are central to my identity. And yes, the cruel reality of sports is that — unless you’re a Patriots fan — the lows are far more common than the highs. But the highs are worth the wait.
That’s as far as I got. While I chuckle at some of those words — in hindsight, I had much more trying weeks to come — many of them still resonate with me.
Sports suck sometimes. In fact, sports suck most of the time, at least when you’re talking about your favorite teams. Only one team can win it all every year, and that means about 30 teams are ending their season in misery.
When I arrived at UConn, I was arriving at the Basketball Capital of the World. Then I watched in horror as the men’s team lost to Wagner on opening night of my freshman year, and that pretty much set the tone for the rest of the four years. Thank you to Queen Nancy Stevens and the 2017 field hockey team for providing the Class of 2020 a national championship during our time here. Beyond that, it was pretty rough. I mean, Geno, come on. Not even one?
But there’s a reason that despite the unrelenting losses and failures, we remain so dedicated to sports. There’s a reason why, in this unforeseen pandemic, the absence of sports has been especially difficult to bear.
It’s because, as I wrote over a year and a half ago, the highs are worth the wait. And the highs don’t have to be championships, either. At UConn, I’ve witnessed several moments that I’ll never forget. The women’s basketball team notching its 100th straight win. Hurley and Co. taking down Syracuse at the Garden. The men’s hockey team’s wild comeback win over BU in 2017, their record-tying seventh-straight. Goal Patrol chaos at Morrone Stadium. And this year, two improbable and electrifying Senior Night victories for the men’s basketball team and the Ice Bus. Those highs make all the lows worthwhile.
Thanks to this newspaper, I’ve had the opportunity to not just watch these games unfold from the sidelines, but also see what happens after the final buzzer. I’ve been fortunate to interview coaches and athletes, travel to Memphis, MSG and the beloved XL Center, and after all of that, write what I hope were meaningful, interesting stories.
I think it’s telling that during that dark week, I didn’t just look to sports — I wrote about them. My first instinct was to open up Microsoft Word and write, as ridiculous as it was that I was pretending to be a senior looking back almost two years from then. Writing, and writing about sports, has become an outlet that I will very much miss.
With that said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the people who gave me that outlet and made the Daily Campus a second home. Thank you to Dan Madigan and Tyler Keating for believing in a shy freshman who was too afraid to open his mouth during meetings. When I arrived at UConn, I had no plans on writing for the school newspaper, and certainly had no idea that I would go from that first Around the American article to Sports Editor. Thank you to Dan and Tyler for pushing me to be a better writer and for providing me a platform to express myself.
Thank you to Steph Sheehan for showing me that a sports story could be a work of art. My basketball recaps never quite reached your level, but I never stopped trying. Shout out to our fellow Memphis companion, Judah Shingleton, as well as DC Sports Hall-of-Famer Bryan Lambert, both of whom never failed to make me laugh.
Thanks to Mike Logan for being an incredible Sports Editor last year and for always answering my panicked questions this year. Those were some huge shoes to fill, but fortunately, I did not have to keep the section afloat alone. Thank you to Kevin Arnold for putting up with me for a whole year, always being a great editor and friend — I’m still sad we didn’t make it to Fort Worth. Thanks to Mike, Jorge, Sean and the rest of the staff for making our jobs easy and a joy. Danny and Conner, I can’t wait to see what next year holds, but I’m sure it’ll be great.
Lastly, thank you to everyone for reading over the years, especially to my friends — mentioning that you had read my recap or column that day meant more than you know. And most of all, thank you to my parents for always encouraging me. Because of you, I could count on at least two page views on all my stories.
When I first began that “senior” column and stashed it away unfinished, I thought I’d be prepared when it came time to finish it. I’m not.
I also could not have foreseen that, when it came time to finish it, the sports world would come to a screeching halt, or that my senior year would end like this. I’ve found a new appreciation for things that I had taken for granted, whether that be baseball on a summer afternoon or spending every day in the unforgettable place that is Storrs, Connecticut. My time at UConn has come to an end, but I’m so grateful for that time here. And when sports do come back, it’ll make moving on a little easier.
This is certainly a low for many of us. But when life (and sports) resume, the highs will be worth the wait.