For the past four years, I have written hundreds of stories for the Indiana Daily Student, but this is the first time I have used first person.
It’s never been about me and I never want it to be. However, with my time at IU coming to a bittersweet close and with what would have been my dad’s 56th birthday Saturday the 28th, I thought it was time for me to explain why I write about sports.
It’s for him.
My dad died from a heart attack on August 19, 2012, weeks into my junior year of high school. His death came just over a month after sports journalism became my passion. He was never able to read any of my stories, but he’s inspired each of the thousands of words I’ve written since that day.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him and what he meant to me. Being an only child, I had a special bond with my father.
My dad was my soccer coach from the moment I first kicked a soccer ball. He took me to baseball games as a baby and indoctrinated me into Notre Dame football. He was the reason why I love sports, and it was our undying bond.
A month before he died, he and I went on a road trip to Washington, D.C., so that I could attend a Sports Management Camp at Georgetown University. During that week, I fell in love with sports journalism.
Sports became my shelter in those months following his death. I turned to my favorite teams as a welcome respite from the tears and the sadness. I volunteered as the manager of the Cathedral High School soccer team, a group that embraced me with open arms and allowed me to escape my grief. I will never forget that team and what it meant to me.
Yet sports writing is where I found my sanctuary. Every sentence that has appeared in the IDS with my byline has been molded by my loss and how it has redefined me. I am a survivor of tragedy. I am a fighter who refuses to give up no matter the circumstances. I am someone who wears a smile on my face, despite the adversity I have faced.
In this way, death has no power over me. The pain isn’t gone, nor will it ever be. This is because when you love someone so much, losing them will always affect you no matter how many birthdays go by where they aren’t there to blow out their candles.
Yet you become more powerful by how you live out the days following your loss. I know confidently the only way he would want me to live is to passionately follow my dreams. Through the IDS, I have been able to do just that.
Sports have always been my normalcy, my safe haven through life’s challenges. Since his death, I have felt most at peace amid the thousands of roaring fans at arenas and stadiums across the Big Ten. It’s in those moments I silently soak in the crowd and the spectacle, and I often ask myself what my dad would think if he could see me now.
I know he’d be proud because I have endured and not for a second have I relented on the pursuit of my dream. Through tragedy I haven’t asked for sympathy. I have not felt sorry for myself.
While he’s been gone so long that his words fade from memory, his spirit lives within me each and every day.
I’ve come a long way as both a person and a journalist since August 2012. These have been two intertwined journeys — and forever will be. Sports are my connection to my dad and my way of remembering him.
I’m never going to be the same without him, but I have every reason to continue down the path he helped pave for me.
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