By the time I graduated high school, I
think I had “asked out” or pursued more than 100
girls.

J. Brady McCollough

A few of them really stick out in my head. I spent third and
fourth grade chasing Erin Jackson around the playground, only to
have her choose David Griffin — who wasn’t athletic
enough to chase her anywhere.

In seventh grade, I let the preacher’s daughter know of my
intention to be her boyfriend. She ended up dating one of my best
friends at the time, Doug. I had to hear all about it. Let’s
just say Doug put good use to his pool table.

But no matter how little success I had finding the love of my
life during adolescence, I always knew things would be different in
college. They would have to be — college girls would be
mature and ready for a J. Brady-sized commitment.

I came to this campus to fall in love, above all else. I wanted
to experience what I’d seen in all those romantic comedies,
and it didn’t take long to find it after I realized it
wasn’t anywhere near the dance floor at the frats.

 

Amy

I met Amy in the computer lab in South Quad Residence Hall
freshman year. She was a real looker. Great smile, hearty laugh.
She was full of life, ambitious and intellectually stimulating. I
was hooked.

I was in love.

Love was everything I always imagined it to be. Love was telling
her things after knowing her for two days that I had never told my
best friends. Love was listening to everything that came out of her
mouth, soaking it up to the point it became a part of me. Love was
sacrifice, as I continually ignored my obsession with videogames
and sports to learn more about her interests.

Love was dependence. Love was her calling me a day after leaving
for the summer to tell me she missed me already. It was me tearing
up when she said it. Love was her crying on the other end of the
line a week after we parted for the summer, and me telling her it
would be OK.

Love was desperate. Love was telling our parents we were staying
at friend’s’ houses and meeting in State College —
halfway between our hometowns of Buffalo, N.Y. and Bethesda, Md.
— for a night. (Sorry, Mom. Please still come to my
graduation!)

Love was going biking later that summer on a bike that was way
too small for me. Love was her taking care of me all weekend
because I broke my nose on that bike ride. Love was her wiping pus
off of my nose one minute and kissing me the next. Love was
considering stunting my growth at the Daily by covering
women’s basketball instead of hockey my sophomore year, so
that I could have more time to spend with her.

Most of all, love was fleeting.

I realized this standing near the corner of Packard and Division
one night at the beginning of sophomore year, bawling my eyes out
because she decided she didn’t love me anymore. I realized it
when I left her voicemails minutes later and said things I never
thought I’d say about her.

Love was suddenly painful and exposing, and after one
relationship, I had two scars: one on my busted nose and another on
my heart.

Having accepted that my nose would always bear a scar from Amy,
I had to find a way to start healing the other. A few days after
the break-up became official, I strapped on a shirt and tie and
marched into 420 Maynard St. on a mission. I was going to cover
hockey; I had to. The editors at the time took a chance on me.
Maybe they could see how desperate I was for something new to
love.

 

Epiphany

Beginning the year in a sophomore slump, I forced myself to pour
my love into the Daily. From the surface, the sports section was a
bunch of dudes who loved sports — sweet! But they were
committed dudes. Talented dudes. Dudes who cared enough about the
paper to give up the traditional college experience.

I remember the day I fell in love with the Daily and sports
journalism like it was yesterday. It was a November Saturday night
in Omaha, Neb., covering the hockey team’s series against the
Mavericks — nothing like CCHA hockey to make a man weak in
the knees. After interviews that night, I realized that I was born
to be a sportswriter. Born to be on the road with the team,
chronicling its agony and ecstasy. Born to bring athletes to life.
Born to tell their stories. Born to make them human for you, the
fan.

As the scar on my nose became less glaring, my other scar began
to do the same. I was in love all over again.

Love became an entirely new entity for me. Love became a battle
between the Daily and my family’s wish for me to get a degree
in something practical. Love was crying myself to sleep a day after
returning from that fateful trip to Omaha because my mother —
always firm in her convictions — told me that if I
didn’t pass Calculus 3 (a pre-req for my Statistics major),
she would make me quit the Daily. I was flirting with failing, and
I was scared — as scared as I’d ever been of
anything.

Love was considering dropping my financial ties to my family and
taking out loans for the rest of my years so that I could continue
working at the Daily and major in something less practical. Love
was “cowboying up” like a true Red Sox fan. I hired a
tutor and passed the class. Love was the feeling of seeing that
“P” on Wolverine Access, knowing that my dream of
running the sports section and covering Michigan football was still
alive. Love was making sure that I didn’t waste another
minute on this campus, and that meant spending every minute at the
Daily.

As Managing Sports Editor in 2003, I learned more about love
than I ever could have in a relationship with a girl. I learned
about selfless love. It was my job to put above my own desires the
section as a whole and each of its 35 to 40 staffers. I gave
everything I had to the Daily, but what it gave back was so much
more.

Love was watching Gennaro Filice, Daniel Bremmer, Ellen
McGarrity and many others grow as writers and editors and fall in
love with the Daily under my tutelage. Love was bringing my best
and most real friend, Jim Weber, back to the Daily because I knew
he needed it as much, if not more, than I did.

Love was passionate. Love was sending portfolios to every
newspaper in the country, begging for a chance to write. Love was
screaming like a school girl on my porch when I got the call from
the Tampa (Fla.) Tribune in December of my junior year saying they
wanted me to come down for a few months and write some sports. Love
was the relief in knowing I had my foot in the door.

Most of all, love was reciprocal. The movie “Moulin
Rouge,” while being cheesy, teaches a timeless lesson, one
that I only could have learned at the Daily: “The greatest
thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in
return.”

 

The last love

Less than two weeks until graduation, love is uplifting and
depressing at the same time.

Love is having slumber parties with Peter Janowski, a.k.a.
“The Dude.” Love is calling Eric Ambinder at 3 p.m.
Friday, pulling his studious butt out of the UGLi and taking him to
Dominic’s. Love is yelling “BAY-BAY!” to Mark
Bonges as many times as possible because when I’m interning
at the San Antonio Express-News this summer, nobody will understand
the power of a “BAY-BAY!” Love is singing Backstreet
Boys’ “I want it that way” with Naweed Sikora
Friday at Mitch’s karaoke night. Love is doing everything I
can to know that when I leave Ann Arbor at the end of May, there
will be no doubt that I did it big these four years.

Love is sitting with Jim at China Gate a week ago and talking
about why graduating from college is so much worse than from high
school. It’s trying not to tear up thinking about how
it’s almost over. Love is seeing Bob Hunt in the Union,
wondering if I’ll ever see him again and giving him a
bear-hug. Love is uncertainty and instability in the face of an
intimidating future.

This is it for us — me, the crazy sports columnist and
you, the reader who somehow bears with me for 35 love-filled inches
even when you have doubts about where I’m going. Some of you
are lucky enough to be coming back next fall. Here’s a tidbit
from an old-timer: Love can be experienced in many ways. Make sure
you give somebody or some place your love before you go.

Thanks to Mom, Dad, Granny and Granddaddy, who loved me and
taught me how to love. I can be reached at bradymcc@umich.edu. And
I’m out.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *