Appreciating the Game They Play

As often as I have tried to deny it, a harsh reality is staring me down in the face: I am soon going to be graduating from college.

The thought of leaving this magnificent cow town for good is enough to send me into a panic, so I won’t get into all that too much here. But that fact also signals the end of being able to share my weekly thoughts and feelings in this column, which has become one of the greatest privileges I have had so far in my writing career.

I have been able to use this column to talk about everything from my sad life as a Mets fan to playing Nintendo 64 with my roommates. But most importantly, it has given me just another outlet to talk about my long-beloved Huskies.

Indeed, I have just three more opportunities in my Daily Campus career to share an opinion that nobody ever asked for. And with them, I’d like to share some final stories from the past few years of working and growing up with this newspaper, starting with a quick lesson in getting put in my place.

The last two fall seasons presented me with the opportunity to cover the UConn men’s soccer team, which had been some of the most fun I could have ever had on a beat. But it wasn’t in the past two seasons covering the team that I learned one of the most important lessons I think I could have learned as a young journalist. That lesson came within my first few weeks of freshman year, when I had the chance to fill in for someone who couldn’t cover a game.

The game was an early October home match against Manhattan at a time where the 10-0 Huskies were the No. 1 team in the country. UConn would ultimately crush visiting Manhattan 3-0 in a match that highlighted the incredible talent that lined the 2011 roster.

After the final whistle came postgame interviews with some of the players, a terrifying prospect for a rookie writer like me who’s only goal was not to make a fool of myself in front of future MLS stars. But sure enough, that’s exactly how I ended up feeling.

I still don’t remember exactly how I worded the question, but to this day I remember the feeling of regret before I even finished asking it. I asked the game-winning goal scorer Carlos Alvarez, who is now a midfielder on the Colorado Rapids roster, if he was relieved that his team was able to get an easy victory after two tough battles leading up to the night.

And I’ll never forget his response.

“I didn’t think it was too easy,” he told me, getting rightfully bothered. “It might be easy for you guys watching up in the press box, but it’s always a battle. We’re always working. It’s never easy for us.”

I wasn’t considering how hard the team had worked up to that point to make their win look that easy. I wasn’t considering the fact that I was interviewing a man with sweat, dirt and blood caking his jersey while I watched the game drinking coffee comfortably in a sweater and jacket.

Though it was such a quick and simple interaction, it was one that I needed and was lucky to get at such an early point in my career in this sports department.

I am forever grateful to Alvarez for putting me in my place, because it was true.

He wasn’t being rude, and he obviously wasn’t being inconsiderate. He was simply reminding me of something that no sports writer should ever forget: Playing the game is the hard part. Sitting back and writing about it is infinitely easier. And anyone who thinks opposite may need a similar reminder as to who’s on the pitch, and who’s sipping coffee from the press box.

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