In a rare moment this weekend, I felt relatively old. Obviously I’m not old (relative is the operative word), just old in the way that when you’re a freshman in college and go back to visit your high school and think, “Wait, these kids are in high school? They’re so little! I never dressed like that when I was that age!”
I’m not sure there’s a right way to measure the passage of time. Some cultures use the sun. Others use the moon. Andy Dufresne marked it with rocks while he plotted his escape at Shawshank State Penitentiary. College students can see their growth as they move from freshman to sophomore to junior to senior year.
Like many others, I see it through sports. There’s winter, spring, summer and fall, but baseball, basketball and football seasons also cover the whole year. Today I know there are 518 days until the next Matt Harvey Day for the New York Mets.
And three Duke sporting events this weekend made me feel relatively old. Like a senior. Like there’s a light at the end of the Duke tunnel called graduation. And this isn’t a tunnel I want to leave yet.
First, Saturday morning I went to the exhibition basketball game with my parents. It was my last parents' weekend with them and my first time at Cameron Indoor Stadium with them before I (fingers crossed) graduate in May.
What really did it, though, had little to do with that. Three of the top recruits in the country—Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow—were at the game for their official visits. I’ve read about these guys more than I care to admit. I guess I’ve known this for a while, but it only really hit me Saturday: I won’t even be here (fingers crossed) when they are, if they choose to come to Duke.
I’ll remain a Duke fan forever, and I’ll still follow recruiting even after I graduate. It was just a jarring moment in which I saw these three players who could very well be the future of Duke basketball. I just may never see them play from Section 17.
Next, and immediately after the basketball game, came football. I first began following Duke football in 2004 when one of my brothers came to Duke. I didn’t know much, except that they were bad. Very, very bad. They won four games in his four years at Duke. In 2006, they didn’t win a game. That year, Virginia Tech beat the Blue Devils 36-0 and made them look like a bunch of high schoolers, landing vicious (and illegal) hits on Thaddeus Lewis all game. At least T-Lew is having the last laugh now as the starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills.
Anyway, now in 2013, look how different things are. Last year was a big step for Duke football when they made the Belk Bowl and nearly won it. But at the end of the day, they were a sub-.500 team that gave away potentially its biggest win of the year… to none other than Virginia Tech. This year? They’re not only bowl eligible yet again, but they beat Virginia Tech—a top-25 team—on the road. It’s been a long journey for Duke football and its fans, and the growth of the program makes me feel relatively old.
Finally, on Sunday afternoon I went to the women’s soccer game. The game was my first last—Senior Day, the last home game of the season. I’ve loved the women’s soccer team since freshman year because they have not only been quite good—making the national championship game my sophomore year—but also they play the game the right way and are some of the kindest people on campus.
When the seniors were introduced before the game, some of them cried. And fittingly, Kaitlyn Kerr—who has had three major knee surgeries and fought her way back on to the field after each one—sang the national anthem, and you would’ve never known how hard she was bawling only moments before.
In different ways, those three Duke sporting events showed me how much time has passed and how little I have left here. And as antsy as I am for this next basketball season to start—it may prove to be the most fun one I have here—the sooner it starts, the sooner it will end.
The one inevitable truth with time: we can’t control it. So as Andy Dufresne tells Morgan Freeman’s “Red” in the Shawshank yard: “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” That’s important to remember when time here goes so quickly.