The game of life

Secret’s out, guys. I’m a huge Canisius College basketball fan.

Always have been, always will be. This year, the MAAC conference tournament is in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Canisius men’s basketball team beat Siena (for the third time this season, may I add) on Saturday night to advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2002. Yet a few short hours ago, in quite a heart-wrenching finish, the Griffs lost in the semifinals to defending MAAC champion Iona with a score of 75-72. 

Despite the loss, being their number one fan (a title given to both myself and my best friend Aly by a few older gentlemen who are Canisius alum) has taught me a lot this year. And don’t worry, my broken heart is being mended by a bag of mini snickers and some wine right now…

What being a number one fan for a class-act team will teach you:

1. The things you love are worth the sacrifice: When you find something you love — a sport’s team, true friend, a passion of any kind — pursuing it and keeping it in your life is worth whatever sacrifices there may be. Whether it’s your sleep, your voice (can’t keep me quiet in the middle of a Canisius basketball game), gas money, time off from work, a stiff neck from a long car ride… you can spare it in order to root for something you believe in.

2. Stay classy. No matter what: Sometimes the calls go in your favor and other times you’re pulling your hair out because you know the shots just aren’t fair. But whether you’re winning in life or losing, don’t let it make you bitter, angry, egotistical or pompous. Be grateful when you’re up. Be humble when you’re down.

3. You don’t always get a second chance: If you’re lucky, you have that next practice, game, season or tournament in your future. Other times, you don’t get that second chance. Make sure that when your game or adventure comes to an end, you’re proud of the job you’ve done and the character you showed when you were fighting mid-battle.

4. Good company makes the game of life worthwhile: Sporting events, road trips, and the many other adventures life brings would not be as memorable without incredible people to share them with. At the end of the journey, you may forget the score or the number of miles you traveled. You will, however, remember the people who were screaming beside you when it all was caught on (an ESPN) camera.

Let's go, Griffs! Thanks for the shot, ESPN ;)
Let’s go, Griffs! Thanks for the shot, ESPN 😉

I’m going to continue to cheer for my team. Because the “team” I root for is more than a group of talented athletes.

Yes, it’s the players, but it’s also the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the family and friends from near and far. My “team” is my community, and when that is your team, how could you not be dedicated? How could you not pour your heart onto the court right beside the ones changing the numbers on the scoreboard? Being a part of Canisius means you’re a part of something crazy and quirky and heartwarming and ridiculous. It means you’re a part of a family.

Canisius, you have always had my heart and you always will. Griffs til I die, baby.

Glad the cameras were able to catch Aly and me dancing in the stands. Score.



To my graduating Griffs

Canisius College, your comfort zone, source of friendship, bubble of forgivable mistakes and the home that fostered your growth and becoming is now taking a back seat. It’s nerve-wrecking, intimidating and at times emotionally draining. But above all else, graduation comes at a time that whether you realize it or not, needs to happen. And you’ll be glad it did.

Maybe you’ll have a job waiting for you, will volunteer for a year or move into a new apartment with old college buddies. Maybe you won’t.

It doesn’t matter. Because no matter what you do after you briskly walk across that graduation stage (and hopefully don’t lose a shoe), I can almost guarantee you that the following things will happen in the next year. And if they don’t, you should probably learn to live a little.

You’re going to fall in love with yourself. Maybe all over again if you’re already fond of the person you’re becoming. You’ll look back and realize that you made it this far and that’s a hell of a lot to be proud of. You’ll find pride in taking care of your body and want to eat healthy and stay in shape and it won’t feel like such a hassle. If you’re smart, you will stop comparing yourself to others. Embrace all of the wonderful things that make you different than the people who will sit beside you in identical caps and gowns. Those little quirks are what make you beautiful. To quote Dr. Suess, ‘There is no one alive who is Youer than You.’

You’ll make a total and complete fool of yourself (on many occasions). Good. Do it now. You have a nice little grace period where people will still forgive you for your mistakes because you’re young and naive. Whether your mistakes happen at work, with friends or with those you have a romantic interest in, trust me when I tell you that they are an absolute guarantee. Take advantage of it. They’ll be laughable later on.

You’ll spend money you know you shouldn’t. And while most people may disagree with me on this one, I hope you do spend enough to make you somewhat uncomfortable. One of my favorite quotes is, ‘spend your money because you can’t take it with you.’ I’ll give you three guesses as to how much I have in my savings account, but you’ll probably only need one. Don’t say “no” to crazy opportunities and misguided adventures just because you’re too scared not to have a little financial cushion. If it means you survive off of macaroni and cheese for three weeks, so be it. You did it in college, didn’t you? The laughs you’ll share with friends and memories you’ll make will be worth it. I freaken promise you.

You will get frustrated with your job (or lack thereof.) Join the club. If you don’t have a job, keep looking. More importantly, keep networking. It pays off. If you do have a job, here are some facts: you have to earn your place and it often comes through long hours, work that you’re over-qualified for and a lot of tongue-biting to make people happy. But give it time. Because that initial job description is not set it stone. Be a go-getter. Shoot out a new idea. Your colleagues don’t like it? At least you tried. And if nothing else, use the position you have to leverage new connections and networking opportunities. There are possibilities everywhere, you just have to fight to see them sometimes.

You will likely question everything you stood for and believed in while in college: Let the uncertainty shake you up. If the questions and exploration of thought brings you back to the place you once were, then you are one consistent individual. If you end up somewhere new, embrace it.

Your group of friends will change. If this one makes you sad, then put in the effort to keep valued friends in your life. Catch up for lunch, call them, email them, or my personal favorite, send them an unexpected card. But here’s one thing to remember: don’t spend too much time mourning over the loss of those that will inevitably fade out of your life. If they taught you something about yourself or the world around you, take that as a positive reason for their path crossing yours and be at peace with it. Some people are just meant to remain a memory.

You will be astonished at how time continues to fly. It doesn’t slow down. The sooner you accept this and come to terms with it, the more you’ll learn to appreciate life for each beautiful moment you’re granted rather than all of the ones you no longer have control of.

Graduating college is a milestone in your life but don’t let it scare you. Find comfort in the fact that no matter where your next path leads you, you can always come back to Canisius and the fond memories that your education has privileged you with. The open arms waiting behind the doors of buildings that turned into second homes will always be available should you need them.

Commencent Ceremony
Canisius College Undergraduate Commencent Ceremony 2012