I’ve been working as a sports journalist since the early 1980s, shortly after I graduated from college. That, in itself, was an adventure as I began my studies in the winter term (back than Grand Valley State College, which is now a university, had 10-week terms), which meant I ended my four years at the end of the fall term … which meant I had to wait some six months for the graduation ceremony. “You’re going to walk,” my wife told me. “We spent a lot of money to get this degree, so you’re going to walk.”
I did walk, but it was not the smoothest of graduation ceremonies. Back then, Grand Valley State was making a transition in sports from an NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) to an NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) school. One of their goals, which has since happened, was to become a national football power. To do that, about the time I was going to walk, the school expanded its football field into more of a stadium, thereby lending credibility to its program. To dedicate the new stadium, my class was going to be the first to walk on the field for the graduation ceremony with hundreds of friends and family in the bleachers. Watching. Cheering.
That morning, a heavy-duty, early-summer Michigan storm blew through the area, effectively flooding the field and forcing the graduation ceremony indoors in the Louis Armstrong Theatre that season, oh, maybe 150 people. That was us, the graduates. The family and friends ended up watching the ceremony on closed-circuit television from the fieldhouse which was almost on the other side of campus. So, my wife and parents got to see me walk, but that was about all they saw. They didn’t get to see me wave to them or anything.
Just think, I could have slept it.