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From Owen to the Kerneys, thanks for the goosebumps

Who knew it would happen so fast?

Anyone who is a fourth year or knows a fourth year has probably grown accustomed to counting the lasts. You know: This is my last registration period or my last class for my major.

Well at the risk of sounding cheesy, this is a very special last for me. This is the last article that I have the privilege of writing for The Cavalier Daily.

And I do mean privilege.

Along the way there have been trials and errors, good moments and bad, laughter and frustration. But the feeling of seeing my name in print has never changed. From the first article to the one in your hands, I always smile - just a little hint of joy on the inside.

It all started in just October of my first year at the University - October 23, 1996, to be exact. My first article, a feature on wide receiver Bryan Owen, appeared that day.

I taped it on my suite wall in Dobie House. Every article followed it for the next several months. Ask my then-roommate Matt Steinberg. He'll probably tell you it was kind of silly. And it was. But I had never had anything published before.

Features still are my favorite type of article to write. Trying to tell a story, to paint a picture of one person's life. We all have a unique tale. I like to put it in words. I like to tell you about the people.

That's why I get that little tingly feeling when an article that I wrote appears in the paper. Because you, the readers, get a chance to see the picture through my eyes, to catch a glimpse of that person, to get to know in some small way the Anthony Poindexters, the Adam Halls, the Jess Hulls. To, in a sense, meet them.

I'll never forget meeting ex-Cavalier defensive end Patrick Kerney's parents. The football team was pitted against Florida State in Tallahassee. I was on my way to cover the event. The Kerneys were on my flight.

I knew they were Patrick's parents because of their attire. The two were clad in orange and blue. His dad's stark white hair and his mom's classy straw hat with a Virginia-colored bow still stand out in my mind.

Also both wore buttons that had a picture of their son. Not No. 58, not the defensive end who tied the school record for sacks, not the lacrosse player turned walk-on, but their son.

I realized right there, that regardless of the league, pee-wee or professional, the parents never change.

We shared a cab from the airport and eventually witnessed Patrick put together a dazzling performance. They were incredibly nice and down-to-earth people. We had the same flight home the next day and I talked briefly with his dad while we waited for our delayed flight.

I saw them again following Virginia's Peach Bowl loss to Georgia. His father said hello in the tunnel beneath the Georgia Dome while we waited for the players to come out of the locker room. Patrick had taken fluids through an IV throughout the game, but still managed to play. Incredibly well, I might add. But the most telling thing I ever saw him do came during the media frenzy afterwards.

As the players exited the locker room, they were curtailed by the media relations people to individual interview spots. Patrick walked right past the beckoning director and over to his family. Not The Washington Post, not USA Today, but his family. He gave his dad a long, endearing hug. Then he hugged his mom and gave her a kiss on the cheek. The same for his sister. The media could wait and they did.

Moments like those are why I've loved every minute of my time at The Cavalier Daily. That's why my skin quivers just a little when my article appears.

Yeah, it is kind of silly. But hey, my parents are reading and parents never change. After all, it's their son.

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