Maybe it would be best to first thank all of my dear friends at Au Bon Pain for their delicious sandwich, drink and chocolate-chip cookie combo. Not that we’ve seen the end of one another, but I think it’s a nice gesture to a least mention the place that has probably taken thousands from me in my four years here. Of course, there has to be a shout out to arguably the slowest Friday’s restaurant in America, which still has provided wholesome chicken fingers with French fries and honey mustard sauce, all for just $8.69. Then there’s J Street, the greatest place to just sit and sit some more and then look at the big clock and realize you’ve missed class. And a big thank you to Mister Days, for providing us with some Tuesday and Saturday night fun over the years. We all miss you more than you know.
Before I begin thanking people and talking sports one last time here, it’s important that we all just take a moment and reflect on the beautiful existence of Fawn Leibowitz, whose Animal House life was cut short by a kiln explosion years ago. Remember in your high school yearbook when you gave those shout outs to all your friends, similar to what I’m probably going to do here? Well, my friend and I used to quote Animal House all the time, and Fawn and Shelly Dubinsky became important women in our lives. For some odd reason, I mentioned her name as Fran Leibowitz in the yearbook, and when the yearbook came out, I couldn’t believe the mistake I made. So, I’m glad I have this opportunity to make up for my error from a few years back.
Anyways, how about those Seattle Mariners? I mean the team loses Randy Johnson one year, Ken Griffey Jr. the next and then Alex Rodriguez and they’re 21-6. One month into the season and Oakland and the Chicago White Sox, two division winners from a year ago, are out of it already. But not those Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and Minnesota Twins. They’re all still hanging around, and in first place nonetheless.
I thought I’d talk very briefly about my experience here at The Hatchet. Again, I’ll emphasize the briefly part. I came to a meeting in the beginning of my sophomore year and asked the editor in chief if they wanted someone to write weekly poems for their arts section. I know, can you imagine? I always thought I was decent at rhyming – I thought my poetry was good, maybe I was wrong, let’s just say I’m glad my sports opportunity came along.
When the editor in chief said The Hatchet didn’t do that poetry stuff, I walked over to sports editor Dustin Gouker and asked if he needed any writers. He said he did, and thus, my sports writing career began as the GW women’s volleyball team beat reporter.
It’s hard to believe how long ago that was, and it’s strange to think my time as sports editor here was a direct result of happening to show up at that fall meeting. In the last three years, I’ve seen some amazing sports contests here – the greatest being Shawnta Roger’s last-second three-pointer to beat Xavier. I’ll be honest, I didn’t actually cover that game. I was just a fan, who got there an hour early just to get a prime seat right by Skip Prosser and the Xavier bench. The game was televised on ESPN, and I made a sign that somehow made it on camera:
Equation: Shawnta + Penders = NCAA Bound.
Well, Shawnta’s not here anymore, and neither is Penders. I guess Val Brown’s gone as well. The recent basketball controversies were certainly my biggest stories to cover as sports editor, but none were as sad as when volleyball coach Yvette Moorehead passed away last August. Having covered the team for three years and even having traveled with them to Philadelphia on one occasion, Moorehead’s passing was very difficult to write about. Given the circumstances and having fallen just short in past tournaments over the last few years, the volleyball team’s Atlantic 10 Championship was the best thing to happen to GW athletics this season.
I wanted to thank Dustin and Rich Murphy for the opportunities and freedoms they gave me, even when I sometimes slept through Sunday’s noon editorial meetings. I know former arts editor Ali Gazan would be proud. Their contributions to The Hatchet were invaluable. And while I’m thanking a few Hatchet people, I wanted to thank photo editor Grant Wernick for providing the sports section with some great photos and for taking a picture of my father and I at the women’s A-10 basketball tourney in Philly last year. My father framed that picture. Then again, my father frames everything.
I wanted to thank Sean Lee, next year’s sports editor, for his hard work and dedication. The sports section is being left in good hands. And of course I have to thank production manager Evan Woodward, who is the heart and soul of the paper. I had more fun this year at The Hatchet than any other. It would have been better if Lechner never left, but, such is life.
Wait a second here, am I getting all sweet and sentimental? Let’s talk sports again. First, despite what some might say, I’m really not that die-hard a Yankees fan. I respect them and I will admit that I’ve probably written more columns about baseball and the Yankees than I have about anything else here at GW. But when the Babe Ruth little league Yankees beat my Minnesota Twins last summer in a heartbreaking semi-final game that saw the Yanks come back from a five-run deficit with two outs in the last inning – let’s just say I never forgave them.
Now, that was an amazing experience, coaching 14 and 15 year olds with my great friends Tom Vecchio and Jason Coburn. There was something very special about having an impact on the lives of these teenagers. And the way they looked up to us made the experience all the more worthwhile. That’s why the three of us are coaching again this summer, to relive that experience. But I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t mind beating the Yankees in the championship this season.
Alright, let’s thank a few pretty important people. To Ms. Jenkins, the lovely woman from the Allen Lee, and to Theodora, the friendly lady at Esteem Cleaners, I will miss you. And I’m sure I’ll miss the thousands of those Pikesville people I seemed to meet along the way. They’re everywhere. And to Deborah and Martin and Ben Neumann and the rest, we had some great times together.
Now to Tom and Jason Fuiman and Joey G and Seth Greenberg and Cramer and Mr. Gambler Anjan Choudhury and Sosman and Coburn and the rest, what can I say? May the Sixers beat the Knicks, may the Eagles one day beat the Giants and may we all one day beat Atlantic City blackjack dealers Iga and Patel.
There will probably be something else I wish I had written when I look back at this tomorrow, but that’s OK. I have no regrets about my college experience, about the crazy time on the seventh floor of Thurston, moving to the Dakota when it was still off-campus housing, then joining The Hatchet and then Kappa Sigma at the end of my sophomore year. The rest from there is history.
It’s hard to believe Coburn lived on my floor freshman year. I’m grateful for our friendship that’s grown stronger over the years. From June ninth to the Sunday night dinners to Tooch and Milano and Juliet and July fourth Val, we’ve got some great stories to tell and many more to be told in the future. Thanks Burt.
You can never predict the way things will turn out in life, and sometimes the sweetest, smartest and most uncommon people appear when you least expect them to. What else can I say about Kristen? Go Cubbies.
To mom and dad, who haven’t yet completely replaced me with Jake, my somewhat aggressive male maltese, what can I say? Your endless support and love mean the world, and I appreciate all that you do. I love you very much.
In the end, I was an only child who came to GW in the fall of 1997 only to leave four years later with some 70 brothers, and some amazing friends and experiences and stories that will last a lifetime. Along the way I’ve just tried to column as I see `em. I’ve enjoyed it more than you know. I hope you have as well.