April 30, 2003

Reflections of Wisdom in Denial

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Denial. That is definitely the word I will use to describe my next month here in Ithaca. In fact, I’ve already started. This is not my last column. And this cannot be the last week of school, and I definitely cannot be graduating in a few weeks. I mean honestly, who needs the real world? I hear it’s highly overrated.

To fully succumb to this ailment I’ve been contemplating not writing this week — Scott Jones will threaten not to run it anyway — just to prolong the inevitable. Why would I want to give this up? Not only do I get to speak with great coaches and athletes, but also with the wide array of individuals that read the paper. How else could I get a bunch of slightly inebriated random readers at any of Collegetown’s drinking establishments to walk up to me say, “I liked your column,” and then stumble back to the bar? Unbelievably that really means a lot; I used to think only my parents read this!

Seriously though, last week I was asked by an athlete if I was going to be sentimental and reflective, but I really don’t think that’s my style. In truth, I’ve never been good at good-byes.

So it has been difficult to sit and write this — remember I’m suffering from a strong case of denial — because it does mean so much more than a final moniker. These last few key strokes signify one last sports event, one last press conference, one last run to campus, one last drink at the Palms and one last three-hour conversation about nothing, yet everything. These key strokes are not only ending my column, but also my Cornell career.

When I transferred here three years ago, I could never have imagined how much I would change. It was not only a geographic move that occurred when I took a right on 81 as opposed to following the familiar left. These three years have been a learning experience, as has writing this column.

Which leads me to my moniker; there are a few people who have been wondering about its meaning since August. Surprisingly enough it was the one person whom the title came from that questioned its underlying meaning the most.

My favorite times in high school were Sunday evenings when my dad and I would play lacrosse way past daylight on deserted fields. We would challenge each other, beating imaginary defenders and goalkeepers, always hitting the game winner at just the last moment.

It was during those times that my dad always reminded me, “Shoot Early and Often.”

It was this advice that I took with me to Geneseo where Early and Often became my lacrosse mantra. Without fail, those were the last words I would hear from my father before the start of every game.

It was those words that mean more than he will ever know.

So although it got a few raised eyebrows followed by a standing ovation over beers at Lindy’s one Saturday night, it inevitably won over its biggest doubters.

Like I said, I’m miserable at good-byes, so I’m going to settle for thank yous, starting with the two most important people.

Mom and Dad, you are the best parents anyone could ask for and I know you have become surrogates to quite a few friends. The sacrifices and stress you have put up with, this semester alone, are amazing. I don’t know any other parents that would drive six hours every weekend to some random field in miserable upstate weather, so as not to miss a game, and without fail have enough goodies and inspiration to go around. Not to mention the stacks of columns that can be produced at a moments notice. You really are the best, and I could not express in these few lines how much you both mean to me!

As far as older brothers go, I lucked out with you Chip. You will never know how amazing I think you are, and how much you have taught me. I am so proud of you and all of your accomplishments. “Bro,” thank you — Deirdre too!

Unk … these columns haven’t gotten me expelled yet … in fact I think they might actually let me graduate from this fine institution. I’m so glad that I’ll be able to share that day with you. Thanks for being the best “Unk” any girl could ask for.

Thank you to everyone at Geneseo. Denise, I honestly don’t know what I would do without you. Thanks for being my partner in crime, in the CIA, in lacrosse, and being my best friend. Oh and the brain is doing OK! Gonnella, thank you for being my big sister and always making sure I get in just enough trouble and always being there to bail me out! Meg, you are definitely my co-conspirator and there is no one I would rather share a sloe gin fizz with. Just remember, “There are two rules tonight …” Too bad they never lasted, well, maybe not!

Thank you to everyone in Pi Phi. You have made my three years here so much fun and I couldn’t imagine Cornell without any of you. Everyday I am so amazed at how different and spectacular you all are. There is no one else I could imagine going out with on Saturday, Friday, Thursday, Wednesday — I should stop now — night. Molly, your Hawaiian flair is unbelievable. You are so genuine, and definitely my favorite person to get in trouble with. If I tried to write about all of the crazy times we’ve had, I’d go on for pages. Karoke to CMT’s Top Ten … enough said. Alyssa, what a roommate! I can’t believe after our semester in the house, you would want to take me back. You’re by far the kindest, most sincere person I know. Never change. Victoria, I honestly don’t think I would have been able to get through this semester without your phone calls, cards, and trips to Syracuse airport. You’re the best!

Thank you also to Brian and Jeremy in Athletic Communications, to Professor Brian Earle, who has been the greatest professor and advisor. I probably wouldn’t even be at Cornell if it weren’t for you. Thank you to my roommates, to my favorite Syosset alums, to the Non Danglers, to Amy, and to everyone else that I have shared these past four years with.

Also thank you to the wonderful coaches I was lucky enough to cover, especially the men’s lacrosse staff, Coach Dick Blood, Coach Steve Donahue and Coach Bryan Scales. You will never be able to imagine how enjoyable your conversations have been. The amount of time you give us is unbelievable, and your enthusiasm and willingness amazing.

A huge thank you to all of the great athletes that make this job so much fun; with special thanks to Ryan McClay and the rest of the men’s lacrosse team. Thanks also to Jacques Vigneualt, Eric Taylor, Liam Hoban, and every other athlete I have been fortunate enough to write about and cheer on.

Thank you also to everyone in the Sports corner. I couldn’t imagine playing hockey, football, soccer, or whatever type of equipment we could get our hands on, with anyone else. Thank yous abound to Amanda, Alex, Alex, Scott, Owen, and Janiga. The amount of time you devote to this paper, and the enthusiasm you do it with, amazes me! Lacrosse next week, anyone?

Although I’d like to write something witty or memorable, I’m in denial. And that would be the first step to admitting I was leaving this place. Instead, have a great summer. Early and Often will be appearing every other Wednesday next semester — just not in the Daily Sun — if Jones agrees to print it.

Kristen Haunss is a Sun staff writer. Early and Often has appeared every other Wednesday this semester.

Archived article by Kristen Haunss