There’s a dusty wooden jewelry box on a nondescript table in the basement of my home in Muskegon. I haven’t opened it in more than four years, but hardly a day goes by that I don’t think about its contents.
Without a particular small nicknack in there, I don’t know if I’d be here right now, writing this column and graduating from the best damn university in the country.
When I was in middle school, my grandpa — the man who introduced me, at a very young age, to Michigan football, and was consequently my hero — had a stroke. The articulate, well-read and always interesting man was never quite the same after that, but he’d have moments where his eyes would light up and grandpa was back.
On one such occasion — one of the last I had with him before he took a turn for the worse — we were lounging around, watching TV, when he sprang up and hurried down to his bedroom to grab something.
“I want you to have this,” he said, holding out his hand to reveal his class ring from the University of Michigan.
When I got into the school, my grandma cried. It almost felt like fate — to follow in his footsteps. But that’s where I diverged from the path he set for me.
Mom, dad, grandmas, grandpa: Thanks for helping me out so much the last few years; there’s no way I could ever repay you for what you’ve given me. But I have a confession to make:
In the last four years, I’ve worked upwards of 60 to 80 hours a week putting out a newspaper for college students. As you can probably imagine, that doesn’t leave the time one would like to be able to allot for studying. I’ve stayed up until four in the morning sometimes, desperately playing Tetris with InDesign and newsprint to put out a paper that inevitably ended up soaking wet on the floor of the UGLi bathroom.
I’ve driven the equivalent of the earth’s circumference in University-owned mini vans, rocketing through Pennsylvania in the middle of the night to make it back in time to host the weekly story meetings.
I’ve screamed at some of my best friends I’ve made in college, and broken friendships over seemingly petty happenstances (well, for those who never worked at the paper). And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve questioned whether all this bullshit was really worth the terrible things I had to put my body and mind through, just so bored students had a Sudoku puzzle in Biology 118.
I’m not exaggerating, and I thought it was probably time to let you in on this little secret of mine.
But I promise, I wouldn’t have made such a sacrifice if I didn’t look back at my work at the Daily as one of the best things I have ever done — and probably will ever do.
The friends I’ve made, I’ll have forever. The people I love, I’ll never forget.
And the people who have been affected by the words I’ve written for the Daily (both positively, like the teacher who called to tell me she used my story to give her inner-city students hope, and negatively, like the Maize Ragers who deemed me the Bum of the Game, twice, and focused their unwieldy heckling talents at me), are all the proof I need that sports writing is my passion, and I hope to do it for a long time.
It’s hard not to be corny in a column like this. So I’ll just come out and say it: Courtney, Mike, Scott (and Brody), Nicole, Ruth, Clif, Gare-bear, Peej, Felds, Jason, Meisner, Jake, Chanel and everyone else I’ve worked with — I fucking love you. You probably don’t all feel the same, especially now that your life doesn’t involve “Chair Monkey” anymore, but I fucking love you.
Pyzik, Alex and all the other eager sports youngsters — don’t you dare quit, even though I promise there will be times you’ll want to. And the reason I say that will become painfully clear when you’re all standing in a circle with your fellow seniors after the last nightside, taking straight pulls of Johnny Walker and crying and reminiscing.
I still can’t retrace all the steps that led from my grandpa’s ring to The Michigan Daily managing sports editor. It doesn’t seem to flow, but I know it does.
All I know is this: just short of tattooing an English-style ‘D’ on my buttcheek, the Daily will always be with me, and it will affect every step of my life, both professionally and personally.
And I don’t care if you enjoy the Daily or you wipe your ass with it. Thanks for picking it up day-in and day-out.
— Reid already misses taking naps on the photo couch and booking a room at The Ritz. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org