April 23, 2008

Twenty-One Moments to Remember

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Birthdays are a time of reflection, usually of the internal variety. Then again, most people don’t have a bi-weekly column read by a few dozen people on a college campus. Even fewer of these people get to write a column published on their actual birthday. So, with that said, I present to you a brief history of my life up to today, my 21st birthday.

1 I’m born. My mother gives me two middle names, the second of which is Word. Hilarity ensues.
2 I cry very little, and am often happy, which explains why I am now often sad and cry a lot.
3 No one bothers to teach me how to throw a baseball, football, or shoot a basketball. I vow to have my kids training from the day they pop out of the womb.
4 I bust my lip open while running when I fall on two tiled surfaces meeting at a 90-degree angle (ironically in a tile store). Thus begins my life-long fear of tiles.
5 My mother takes a picture of me at the local community pool. I am sucking in my stomach and flexing my arms. My life-long feeling of physical inadequacy begins.
6 While all the kids are running around the field in a giant clump, typical of youth soccer leagues, I wander off towards a glimmer in the distance. It’s a dime. I tuck it into my sock. It’s by far the coolest thing that happens to me that soccer season.
7 After years of training, I still am unable to follow the clump around the soccer field — clearly I learned at an early age to play by my own rules. Still, a booted ball lands at my feet at about midfield. With no one around me, I start dribbling the ball triumphantly towards the goal. Once a few feet from the goal, I awkwardly wind up and send an off-balance shot into the net. The stunned look on the goalie’s face is only the first of several hints that I have just scored on the wrong goal.
8 I tell my mom I want to be a cop for Halloween. She gets me an outfit that includes a see-through mesh vest, tear-away pants, aviators and a hat that resembles a sailor’s hat. Upon seeing pictures later, I become convinced that it was made for midget strippers.
9 I have my first “girlfriend.” I get dumped for my best friend. Years later, I feel vindicated when I steal minutes from him on my ninth-grade basketball team.
10 I stop wearing sweat pants to school every day.
11 My friend invents the nickname Tree Trunk Legs for me. It sticks.
12 When our goalie misses the first game of the season, my seventh-grade coach switches me from defense to goalie. I play so well that I take over the starting job. For half a season, I play lights-out, only allowing two goals in four games. Everyone starts a rhyming chant — “Way to be, Cory” — whenever they see me. I feel awesome. People love me.
13 I sit on my violin while watching the NBA draft. I am in Year 9 of a 13-year violin career and have just moved up to a $5,000 violin. In my defense, the Bulls have just drafted Marcus Fizer. In the Bull’s defense, he’s currently tearing up the Developmental League.
14 I win the Mr. Hustle award from my ninth-grade basketball coach. He said he knew I deserved it when I got a bloody nose during our big matchup with Latin, one of our rival high schools. What I never told him was that I got chronic nosebleeds (paving the way for countless cocaine addiction jokes in the future) and it had just started bleeding when I sneezed during a free throw.
15 Trying to teach us how to set good, firm picks, my tenth-grade basketball coach asks me to run at him while he sets a pick. Determined to show my toughness, I sprint as fast as I possibly can at him, ricocheting off of him like bullet off Superman’s chest. He was a 6-4 former Division I basketball player. The whole team, coach included, laughs while I writhe on the ground in pain.
16 The Cubs get five outs away from the World Series. I cry all night and don’t go to school the next day.
17 I fall rounding third base on my way to scoring the tying run against the team we’re trailing by one game in our conference race. I had been put in solely as a pinch runner.
18 I discover self-deprecating humor.
19 I have the following interaction with an athlete.
Him: “Hey, nice article.”
Me (terrified of any pause): “Thanks man,” pause. “I heard your coach liked it too.”
Him (confused as to why I would mention his coach liked it): “Huh.”
Awkward pause.
Me: “Well, good game then.”
I quickly leave.
I learn that I am incredibly awkward/uncomfortable around Cornell athletes.
20 I fist pump and yell in a completely non-ironic manner after draining a free-throw line jumper to win a pick-up basketball game to 15 played on the half-overgrown, uneven, and broken tennis court in the backyard of my fraternity house. I tell myself it’s the small victories that count.
21 I spend the last 400 words of my column thanking various people who are graduating this year. I realize that no one really cares about who I want to thank or what I have to say except the people themselves. I decide to do it anyway.
The 125th Editorial Board: Until I got the chance to work on a new editorial board this year, I had never realized that the dynamic of each board changes drastically, and the dynamic of the 125th was certainly unique and unforgettable. A little older, a little drunker, a little frattier, a little weirder, a little lazier, a little more liberal and a little more wolf-coaty — and we all found a way to get it done. It was a pleasure working with each of you. I’d like to individually thank the graduating seniors within the Sports Department.
Mike: You were one of the most dependable people, let alone writers, that I’ve ever been around. Your dedication and commitment as a Senior Editor were unmatched and you made being on a beat with you easy — being on a beat with Harrison taught me that. The Schoellkopf Field press box was far lonelier without you this semester. You drove me to work harder to be a more knowledgeable reporter and better writer. Your obsession with small details that bother you and few other people will always make me laugh.
Lance: I’m not going to lie, I was pretty intimidated by you when we first met — mostly because you were like 6-3 and wore polo button downs. Then I saw you rock the New Balance and baggy jeans and I knew we would get along. But in all seriousness, you brought a degree of levelheaded humor to the Sports Department. You were easy-going when I was freaking out. When we goofed around, you knew how to get us focused and get shit done — mostly because you wanted to get the hell out of that building.
Josh: You fed me loads of information about being a journalist. I probably listened to about 80 percent of it, and remembered about 70 percent of it. Still, that embodies most all of my knowledge of how to be a good sportswriter, how to investigate, what makes a good story, how to cover a game and how to run a sports section. You truly love Cornell sports, and I picked up on that passion. It wasn’t only your passion for Cornell sports, though, it was your passion for the Daily Sun. It inspired me to think creatively and think about what I would want to do with the Sports Section. Everything you see in the paper during my year as Sports Editor is an extension of ideas you gave me.