I couldn’t have been more than five years old that day
when I walked into the family room and found my dad watching the
game on TV.

Courtney Lewis

“Who’s playing?” I asked, still mostly
oblivious to the world of college football.

“Michigan and Michigan State,” he answered.

I asked who he wanted to win. He said Michigan State.

“Which ones are they?”

“The green ones.”

“Oh,” I said, thinking for a moment. “I want
the blue guys to win.”

Based on the superior color scheme and the chance to oppose (and
antagonize) my dad, I had decided my allegiance.

I had no idea what I was signing up for.

How could I know that I had just applied for a lifetime
membership to a passionate and loyal club, that I had just brought
the state’s great divider into our household?

Soon, I was refusing to wear green clothing of any kind and
ribbing my dad about his lame Spartans any chance I got.

As I learned names like Schembechler and Russell and Moeller and
Fisher, I dreamed of attending the school whose sports teams had so
firmly captured my heart. But I never imagined this.

For four years, I’ve been in the privileged position of
being as close as you can get to Michigan sports without actually
being a part of it. I remember standing in an endless line at Metro
Airport at 6 a.m. one morning this fall, watching all the weary
business travelers and knowing I had the best job in the world. I
was being sent, on the Daily’s dollar, to Oregon to watch a
football game and then, afterwards, to ask the players and coaches
what the heck had just happened.

My friends would’ve killed to trade places with me.

Being a sportswriter has both magnified the thrills and deepened
the heartbreak. I’ve experienced plenty of both. Two moments
stick out: Standing on the sideline, watching the roses appear as
the final seconds ticked off of the Ohio State game last November,
and sinking in my seat when Minnesota’s Thomas Vanek ended
Michigan’s Frozen Four run after I’d spent my entire
junior year — nearly every day from September to April
— chronicling the rollercoaster that is Michigan hockey.

The most unexpected reward has been the people I’ve met
simply because I carried the title “Daily Sports
Writer.” With some, it was just for a moment, one
article’s worth of peering into their world. With others,
I’ve spent four years working alongside them, through games
and road trips and 2 a.m. computer crashes, and developed
friendships I will cherish even after distance and time has
extinguished them.

My final column has been in the back of my mind for the last
couple weeks, but it wasn’t until this morning that it really
hit me.

This will be the last time my name sits at the top of this page,
the last time my words appear in this newspaper.

My column and I have had kind of a love-hate relationship all
year. I drove myself insane each week deciding how to fill my
allotted space. Initially, my concern was that I would run out of
things to write about. In the end, the problem was there were so
many things to choose from that I was always wondering about what
got left out and went unsaid.

The most gratifying part has been that people not only read my
stuff, but also cared enough to respond and tell me what they liked
or why I was wrong.

The first time someone thanked me for what I wrote stopped me in
my tracks — I still feel like I should be thanking people for
reading my columns, not the other way around.

And I was humbled when I read an e-mail last week and learned
that what I write can actually change the way someone thinks and
even behaves.

With my time at this University and my space in this column
running out, I’m sitting here thinking about all the hours
I’ve spent in this building, all the effort I’ve poured
into this column and this newspaper.

I know that whatever I’ve put into it has been far
overshadowed by what I’ve gotten out of it.

Thank God my five-year-old self liked the color blue better than
green.

Courtney Lewis would like to give a shout-out to Pete, so he
can finally stop bugging her about putting him in one of her
columns. She can be reached at
“mailto:cmlewis@umich.edu”>cmlewis@umich.edu

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