As I have only been at this sports desk less than a year, I am writing this with a tear in my eye.
My left eye.
The eye that peers into the camera and finds you there in some athletic endeavor.
Seniors 2012, you are my first graduates.
It is a proud moment to know you will soon be walking in cap and gown, a uniform much more distinguished (well, arguably) than school colors with matching numerals and monstrous insignias.
Time has passed so fast I didn’t notice the gray hair in my ears.
I remember your awkward little baby steps.
That first dribble and first turnover.
That sprained ankle. That touchdown. The goal. The trifecta!
The bumps and bruises from balls and bats way too large and heavy for tiny hands. That sudden career change from ballet to volleyball. That oversized uniform that now is five sizes too small.
You have been such good kids!
I haven’t had to change a diaper.
I never had to wait up past your curfew, never had to call your best friends’ sports writers, never nagged you about homework or to do the chores you forgot to do, or dig deeper into my wallet than it was made to be dug into.
Nope. My job raising you has been easy.
I know I embarrassed you at times... wearing my baggy sweats to your outings... gyrating my arthritic hips to the rhythm of your warm up music... clapping too loudly during your performance... wearing matching Region V T-shirts.
I know you were embarrassed when I would introduce myself as your sports writer and go on and on about all you did.
We get that way, though!
You stepped out onto the courts, fields, mats, trails and pitches with a lot of what we have come to call “senior swagger.”
I don’t know where you get that.
You have picked up none of my traits.
My genes are not among you.
You look nothing like my side of the family.
My karma reflects a pale version of what awaits your exciting Tao and Chi.
It is you who have influenced me.
I am keeping your photos on my desk top... your first goal... the one of you huddled with all the other sports writer’s kids... you asleep on the bench.. you celebrating on the pitch.. you high-fiving after a winning shot... you fist-bumping the officials... you distraught in defeat...
I can’t believe I, you, we, made it! Wow!
So now... off you go... go on... don’t look back over your shoulder with those big eyes you used to get the umpire’s call or the referee’s sympathetic whistle.
Just keep walking... move along... one strong step after another.
You have four or so more years of athletic and academic education ahead of you that I, your sports columnist, will again have little to do with.
This time it is all on you.
No more Squirts, or Mitey Mites, or Tornados, or Juneau Jumpers, or J.V., or Falcons Field or Adair Kennedy or Treadwell (boo hoo hoo).
No more car-pooling with other kid’s sports writers.
It is sad you will be so far away, but exciting too.
I look forward to hearing about all you do... after all you are my first graduates (sniffle sniffle).
Know that I will still be here, no matter how far away you play.
Know that you always have a little corner here in my section of print, tucked nicely away on the front page.
Ummm, and know this too... I don’t do laundry either.