It’s been a long, tedious, eventful, yet enjoyable journey. Now, I have the task of putting into a few words what the past four years at Western Carolina University have meant to me.
In this column over four years, I’ve dealt with wins and losses, love and hate, life and death. However, this is by far the most difficult one of all to write.
So many things to say, so many people to thank, so much advice to give – so little time and so little space.
The journey began with a summer school session prior to my freshman fall. Quite an experience being dropped off, settled in, and then watching helplessly as my parents drove away leaving me with no transportation for over a month. All on my own, yet not alone.
I purchased the ticket, loaded into the ride, and sat on the front row to gain the full ride experience. Please secure all loose items and keep your arms inside the car.
It was that fateful summer that I wandered into a communications professor’s office searching for something. What I found was a position here with the Western Carolinian, a great advisor, and great friends.
The ride lurches forward and pulls away from the station.
That first year as the Assistant Sports Editor, tutoring under the now infamous “Teflon” Don Costello, I did my best to learn and better my writing. I learned not to take things for face value and to question authority no matter how innocent it appears.
After being promoted to THE Sports Editor three years ago, confrontation ensued; the Chancellor-appointed Task Force on Athletics. Instincts and Jedi-training kicked in like a hound on a trail, sniffing out the details and calling out the insignificance.
We climbed the first trestle, feeling the car rock for the first time, anticipating the first rush downward.
In addition to displaying my work on the pages of the Western Carolinian, I decided to broaden my horizons by branching out of the print media microcosm and explore the wonders of radio. What started as a hobby to fill lonely nights and to provide a release turned into much more.
With the help of Ryan “Stress” Hipps, Kyle “Slushy” Kessler, and Dave Bartholomew, we started our own sports talk show. Judging by the number of calls — or lack thereof — don’t reckon many people took notice.
Last fall, teaming up with Steve Crumpler and Greg Bauer, the Dot Sports Network was born. Adding the likes of Brett “the Hitman” Knight, Jason Carter, and Brad Snyder’s “word of the day,” DSN covered women’s soccer, basketball, and fought for time covering the diamond.
Oh, and have you had your cobbler of the day? Unfortunately, cheddar pear cobbler couldn’t propel either Catamount round ball team to a title, but man was it fun. And “THE” FANS were there for every bite!
We’re now at the top. The ride stops, it seems like forever. Looking back, it wasn’t a stop at all — naw, instead it was merely a pause as time marched on.
And I couldn’t recap college without talking about, yes, wrestling. Whether it is the memories of watching Nitro and Raw in the dorm room Monday nights, or partying with Sunday night pay-per-views, wrestling is a big part of the modern college life. Can’t leave out the road trips to see the WCW and WWF in Knoxville, or even CPW out of Franklin in the National Guard Armory in Sylva.
It was all so exciting I couldn’t help but jump right in. With names like Empire, Hardcore Harv, Kudzu, Guido, Thug, and Pure Talent, the Pan-Universal Wrestling took it to the sandpit in front of Reynolds for two years. We even had a Fijian announcer—That’s my dog, Big Willy!
Loopdy-loops, swirls, and slinging from left to right, being pulled from all sides. Yet, I kept smiling and enjoyed it.
Since being a student-journalist at Western Carolina University I’ve seen “The Cats” be replaced with a big gold “W,” carpet replaced with fake grass, and actually got to touch the Old Mountain Jug during its one-year stay in Cullowhee — better than 14 previous graduating classes could say.
I witnessed the creation and flourishing of a new sport in women’s soccer, as well as Catamount regular-season domination in baseball, volleyball, and of course, track & field.
Received the opportunity to travel to big D-I schools such as Duke, Maryland, Northwestern, and Louisiana State, as well as making trips to Charleston and Greenville for conference tournaments.
I experienced triumph and tragedy at both Lowe’s and Daytona Speedways, as well as many meaningful Saturday nights with my father at local bullring tracks.
Through my four-year college career, I’ve been very fortunate; fortunate to have great opportunities, fortunate to have loving family and friends to support me through everything. And fortunate to be able to leave the section in the capable hands of Cory.
I’ll leave the “Corn-dawg” with these tidbits of advice; be careful whom you select for Pigskin Picks — it’s embarrassing to lose to non-sports members of the staff. Tuesday nights always seem longer than any other day of the week. Big pictures and staff writers are good because it means less work for you.
And always remember that App sucks, 24-7-365.
Zooming round the final turn, pulling back into the station.
I’ll finish this final column perhaps the same way I’ll conclude my radio announcer career later next week; by quoting a song from Garth Brooks. This epitomizes not only my but the sentiments of many other graduating seniors heading into next weekend’s commencement.
“And now I’m glad I didn’t know the way it all would end; the way it all would go. Our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain. But I’d had to miss the dance…”
Thanks for the memories.
The ride is over… for now. Please use caution exiting and always remember that it’s all about the memories.