All I ever wanted to do was write some sports articles in my spare time.
Now, one term as editor, 200-plus articles and several nasty e-mails later, this column marks the close of a long and satisfying era in my life.
While technically I still have one article left - an opinion column for The Cavalier Daily's graduation issue - I'm much more sentimental about writing the words you're reading now.
However, that doesn't mean that the millions ... and millions ... of my diehard fans (a list that includes the staff of The Declaration, "Jim Beam" who regularly posts at thesabre.com and current Cav quarterback Dan Ellis) should reach for that box of Kleenex. Nay, I say. NAY! This last column is an occasion to celebrate.
In the past, departing staff members like myself have compared The Cavalier Daily to a family. My experience, however, has been more like a roller-coaster ride. So, in the words of the automated voice on the monorail at Disney World, I'm ready to "take small children firmly by the hand and prepare to exit." Of course, I don't have any little tykes handy, but perhaps I can borrow one of the seven Shawn Kemp has fathered with seven different women.
Perhaps more than any other type of journalism, sportswriting provides an array of dizzying highs and humbling lows. One day, you might be covering the Virginia-Virginia Tech football game; the next, you're covering a home baseball game in February in conditions so frigid that the ink in your pen has frozen solid and the press box could pass for a meat locker.
Looking back, though, I have no regrets about getting sucked into sportswriting. Aside from shifting my goals from wanting to be the next Gerry Spence to wanting to be the next Peter Gammons, writing sports for The Cavalier Daily has given me unforgettable memories and experiences.
I've had lunch with Dick Vitale and swapped jokes with Michael Wilbon. I organized and supervised a 20-page ACC hoops preview issue. I've been to BYU, New York City and over half the schools in the ACC. In just four short years, I've covered both the ACC Men's Basketball Tournament and the NFL Draft. Some in this profession go an entire career without achieving either.
But the places I've been and the people I've met are rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things. It's more important to look back at what I've learned. After all, I am a student at "The University" (tm), even though such enrollment was somewhat theoretical at times.
So as a testament to the ever-lofty pursuit of knowledge itself, whether you're trying to find a cure for cancer or racking your brains to remember who finished third in the Heisman voting in 1987 (ask Jed Williams, he probably knows), I shall close with a list of Important Things I've Learned. There are 13.