The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Farewell

Although Chuck Norris gives it a run for its money, no single force is more destructive than time. It rips through our childhood with merciless speed and catapults us into the back-breaking world of taxes and doctors' appointments, never asking whether we'd like to hold onto the moment just a little longer. In the sports world, time throws great athletes into oblivion, renders dynasties mere blips on the radar and puts a stop to great games which just aren't supposed to end. It's the track star's foe, the running back's curse, forever's kryptonite. In this particular case, time has taken me for a wild three-year ride with The Cavalier Daily, and it has made this column my last.

Seeping through the myriad words I have published in this newspaper are the memories which produced them. I remember my very first game assignment in February of 2009, a women's basketball home contest against Virginia Tech. I had a sprained ankle and was on crutches at the time, but when legendary Cavalier Daily icon Jack Bird asks for a favor, it's difficult to say no. That day taught me that sportswriting is no cinch, as I had to make the perilous trek from the U-Hall parking lot to the press box without the convenience of my legs, then quickly learn the art of taking game notes, conducting interviews and writing a story on deadline. Covering games has been a far simpler task ever since, and I thank Jack for that.

That game, a 69-61 win against the Hokies, remains one of my few outstanding memories which feature a Virginia victory. Indeed, I hardly could have picked a worse time to attend U.Va. from an athletics standpoint. During my freshman year at Wake Forest, I stormed the court after the Demon Deacs crushed No. 2 Duke into submission during a home basketball game, and I watched a competitive football team finish the year by winning a bowl game. During my three years at Virginia, I witnessed the Cavaliers compile a 42-49 men's basketball record, the football team put together a 12-24 mark and, perhaps worst of all, the two teams combine to go 0-8 against Duke, whose arrogant fan base I always have held in contempt. No bowl appearances or postseason victories for me, unless you count the men's basketball win against Boston College during the first round of last year's ACC Tournament, which happened while I was in Spain.

I have to say that all the losing has served me well as a sportswriter, as it has forced me to become more invested in the games than the outcomes. As the football and basketball beat writer this year, my heart never expected the Cavaliers to win, meaning I could focus on the intricacies of the game without worrying about whether or not Virginia was going to mount a comeback. It wasn't going to, I told myself, so just shut up and write.

I suppose that's a pretty depressing outlook, but not half as depressing as the last Virginia game I ever covered. I was sitting directly in front of Mustapha Farrakhan and Sammy Zeglinski at the press table when they fumbled that casual loose ball out of bounds with 11.6 seconds left to play against Miami, after which the crowd let loose the most sadistic cry I have ever heard in a sports arena, an eerie mix of shock and delight in seeing something at once completely unprecedented and utterly tragic. After the Shakespearean plot drew to a close, Virginia players looked as if they had just witnessed a truck run over a litter of puppies; even their stoic coach had a hard time keeping his composure during the post-game press conference.

The other basketball memory that sticks out in my mind is the Jan. 15 Duke game. On that day I drove down to Durham with fellow sports editor Andrew Seidman, who - bless his little heart - had to put up with my uselessness as I puked my guts out on the way down. Squished between the court and throngs of rabid Cameron Crazies is not the ideal place to nurse a stomach virus, but the experience of being at Cameron Indoor was truly awesome and something every basketball fan should do before they die.

Not all of my experiences have been tarnished with defeat, though. Covering the 2009 national champion men's soccer team was a truly special opportunity, and not just because they won the whole shebang. That fall, I learned that coaches and athletes can be as relatable as anybody else, as coach George Gelnovatch and the players graciously carried out one-on-one interviews with me on what seemed like a daily basis. The NCAA quarterfinal against Maryland that year was easily the most exciting U.Va. soccer game I ever attended, although I went to that one as a fan rather than a reporter. Maryland brought a boisterous contingent of students to that one, all of whom sulked with their arms folded across their chests as we shamelessly rubbed in the 3-0 triumph.

I wish I could dive into all the other memories: making the journey to L.A. to cover the USC football game, and seeing the glitz and glamour of Compton from the window of my motel; reporting on the men's track and field team's first ever ACC outdoor title; writing about former Virginia men's basketball coach Dave Leitao's new employment at Newcomb Dining Hall in an April Fool's edition; co-hosting a rather shoddily run sports show during The Cavalier Daily's short-lived experiment with video production.

Thank you, Paul Montana, for introducing me to this newspaper and putting me on the right track. Thank you, Dan Stalcup, for giving me careful feedback on my first tender-footed attempts at sports writing. Thank you, Jack Bird, for being a living legend. Thank you, Andrew Seidman, for showing me what it takes to be a good journalist. Thank you, Ashley Robertson, for helping me to realize that the biggest perk of basketball coverage is the free cheesecake. Thank you, Ben Gomez, for keeping the Texas pride alive in the office. Thank you, Sean, for keeping this newspaper on its toes on a daily basis. Thank you, Life Section, for letting me run four semesters' worth of wacky humor columns. And thanks, Mom and Dad, for being my biggest - and possibly only - fans.

My goal in all of this was to keep the reader informed, engaged and entertained. I wanted people to take something valuable away from my articles, and to do that I promised to never publish anything half-assed or run-of-the-mill. I hope I succeeded in that.

As I bid you farewell, I feel like time got the best of me again. After reeling me into its gently ebbing waves for four years, it is ready to spit me out to shore once again. I don't want to leave. Not this newspaper, not this school.

Then again, as Dr. Seuss once said, "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

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