Well, it’s certainly been a brief four years my friends.
I’ve covered countless beats during that time. I toiled through rebuilding seasons with the soccer teams, a season with each tennis team respectively as they tried to find the right mix, two wonderful years with the women’s hockey team that ended in a national title and, of course, two years with the football team that were each capped with return trips to the Rose Bowl.
But no beat was closer to my heart than men’s hockey.
Yes, I’ll admit it: I love hockey with unquantified passion.
After a season of struggle, the hockey team almost had me convinced I was going to cover another down year for my final lap on the beat after a 1-7-2 start. As fans and critics tried to persuade me with their outsider beliefs that head coach Mike Eaves should be fired or that this team with all their talent was such a waste, I held onto my convictions that they were capable of something great.
Enter the WCHA tournament.
Sitting in the press box at the Xcel Energy Center, I was a ball of nerves for three days straight. On the verge of breaking out in tears at a Badgers’ loss, I was stunned again and again as Wisconsin continued to win game after game until that beautiful moment they hoisted the 2013 Broadmoor Trophy – the last one in the WCHA as it’s currently known.
Their run earned them a spot in the NCAA tournament. With a fourth seed, Wisconsin traveled to Manchester, N.H. and got smacked by UMass-Lowell 6-1.
I didn’t travel to Manchester. As far as I knew, my final days covering the team were some of the greatest I had ever experienced. A week later it was all finished, but I never had to say goodbye. I never shed a tear. The ending was perfect.
And maybe that’s the way I need to leave not only The Badger Herald but also Madison — to let it go in this open-ended way.
As far as I’m concerned these last four years – with all their ups and downs – are exactly like my final days covering hockey. They were wonderful, nerve-wracking and eventually made me feel like I was on top of the world.
There was move-in freshman year, sporting a confident exterior that hid the well of insecurities, waiting to be unpacked in turn. The nerves set in but eventually went away.
More than a year later, I was already covering a major sporting event: the Women’s hockey team’s 2011 NCAA Title. I was living a dream. I was covering the sport I love, doing exactly what I love. It felt like nothing could slow me down – not even a nasty bout of strep throat or the awful city that is Erie, Penn. (Apologies to any natives, but that town is not my cup of tea).
And I didn’t slow down. During my junior year, I stepped into the football and men’s hockey beats. But I also faced my own personal crises; those few moments that creeped into my life every now and then, making me question whether I really wanted to write, whether I could really make a career of it. In the face of self-created, minor adversity, I knew I didn’t want to do anything else.
Finally, my senior year, that playoff push and insane tournament run which just served as a quick metaphor for my college career.
I’ve been dreading my ultimate goodbye to this wonderful city and all the brilliant people in it.
So instead of worrying about it or attempting to write some perfectly worded farewell, I’m just not going to say anything.
Sure, come Sunday, May 19 there will be tears and hugs all around as I part ways with some of my greatest friends and move onto the daunting, scary, real world. But there will be no goodbyes on my part.
Until next time.
Kelly is graduating in a week and, well, is thoroughly freaked out by it. She is moving back home to the great state of Minnesota to cover some baseball for the summer before worrying about finding a full-time job. Feel free to keep in touch via Twitter @kellymerickson.