April 25, 2003

An Angel Packs Her Bags

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I admit it. I’ve been writing this column in my head since I stepped down as sports editor in early March. Now as the words materialize on my computer, it doesn’t sound as eloquent as I imagined. Over the past four years, I’ve read and edited some amazing final columns, but this is not one of them. So instead of looking to my predecessors for inspiration, I’ll turn my head elsewhere.

On my desk are several media passes I’ve collected. There is the one from the Breslin Center, two football season passes and one from Brown, an Avaya-sponsored pass from Lake Placid, one to Bright Hockey Center (that the nice people at Harvard were so hesitant to give me), a 2002 NCAA lacrosse first-round game pass, ones from the 2002 and 2003 NCAA men’s hockey regionals and the crown jewel, the 2003 Frozen Four pass.

On the wall is the 2002-2003 men’s hockey schedule and the back page of the March 24 Sun. Next to my bills are the pocket schedules for the fall, winter and spring seasons. I have two years of programs and media guides under my bed along with a used pair of sneakers someone got as a joke from one of the athletic department sales. There’s a french fry from homecoming and the magnetic football schedule. I have a picture of Matt Underhill over two game-used pucks: one came over the glass at Colgate, and the other was a gift.

Finally, next to my bed is former hockey team manager Rohan Gopaldas’ framed jersey signed by all the members of the 2001-02 team. All of them are there including the coaches and managers, I checked. Rohan, I’ll give it back once you can find me a suitable replacement.

Over the past few years, I’ve gotten things signed for friends on and off The Sun but never for myself. These artifacts decorating my room are all I need. When I look at the Breslin Center pass, I think of the hospitality that the Anderton family showed me when they took in a complete stranger for Thanksgiving dinner. I was in Michigan to cover the Cornell-Michigan State basketball game, but Jim, Denise and their daughter Sarah are what I remember best from that trip. I wish that I could have made it back to East Lansing to visit since.

The Underhill picture is how I recall Jenna Cho, a former photographer for The Sun with whom I shared many road trips. The Lake Placid pass reminds me of former sports editor Shiva Nagaraj and our crazy road trips around the northeastern United States and Ireland.

My favorite relic right now is the ECAC towel that Alex Fineman, Alex Ip, Scott Jones and I got on the recent trip to Albany. The four of us snagged huge beach-sized towels with the ECAC logo on it. We probably took four times our share, but we were there first. While getting the towels and concealing them from the towel-less AP writers was fantastic, it paled in comparison to that evening. That night we won the ECAC championship — it may very well be my favorite moment in these past four years. Alex, Alex and Scott, it wouldn’t have been a quarter as great if you three weren’t there.

These mementos, although coming from games, tournaments and seasons, represent for me the people with whom I shared them. I’m grateful to The Sun for giving me the opportunity to cover Cornell athletics for the last four years, but I’m indebted to it for introducing me to all the wonderful people I’ve met during that time.

Usually columnists divulge some personal and meaningful story that explains the significance of their moniker in their final piece. I wish I could iterate a heartfelt narrative or life-changing moment, but there is nothing behind mine. It’s merely a play on my last name.

Entering my sophomore year, I wasn’t even supposed to be a columnist. When someone quit The Sun, one position was left open and I was the only person to apply.

I went down to The Sun’s offices the night before my first piece would run. I had a pre-written column, but I forgot the part about finding a name for it. It was a pretty big mistake on my part since I would have to live with the moniker for the next three years. After a list of woeful options that included There Is No Spoon, Tom McNulty Sucks and With Wings, Without Wings stuck along with the picture that looks nothing like me. Apologies to sports editor J.V. Anderton and then-assistants Shiva and Charles Persons for having to suffer through that process with me as you were assembling two supplements.

Since then I’ve come up with wonderful monikers that I’ll just have to save for when I become a famous syndicated columnist, which will happen right after I get a job … that pays.

****

Two years ago, I spent hours agonizing over how to thank people, so last year I had one catchall ‘Thank you’ for brevity’s sake. This is my last chance to show my appreciation in writing. Screw brevity, I’m going to have my say. Hold tight, this may take a while.

Mom and Dad — Even if I wasn’t impressed with myself, I always knew that you were proud of me. Whether I was upset with grades, friends or the paper, you made me feel like a success, and I know I was in your eyes. That meant the world to me. How can I thank you for the last 21 years in a paragraph. Thanks for bringing up my good articles and never mentioning the bad ones, for supporting me emotionally and financially, for giving me everything. Now about those tickets to the Ring.

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