To reduce my life to a terrible baseball cliché, I'm down to the last strike of the final out in the bottom of the ninth of my Duke career.
The deeper into denial I get about this fact, the more I imagine myself years from now like a washed-up minor leaguer, waxing poetic on the glory days.
"Yeah, I was in the show," I'd say. "I was in the show for four years once-the four greatest years of my life. You know, you never handle your expenses in the show, somebody else pays your bills. It was great. You have blue books for exams, the basketball stadiums are like cathedrals, the on-campus hotel is five stars with room service, and the women all have long legs and brains."
I feel as if I'm already romanticizing college, and I haven't even gotten my diploma yet.
After years of cynicism, I couldn't figure out what was suddenly fueling this fire of nostalgia. And then I realized the answer was simple: the bucket list.
Before this year started, I created a list of things I wanted to do before I left Duke, or kicked the bucket so-to-speak.
It got me thinking about all of the athletics-based experiences unique to Duke and how, as part of my drawn out farewell to my readers, I wanted to leave you all with a Blue Devils bucket list. Some items I crossed off my freshman year, some are still waiting to be taken down on deadline (what can I say, I'm a newspaper girl?), but ultimately, all are worthy of being enumerated in this space.
1. See a Duke-North Carolina game in Cameron Indoor Stadium. I know this seems obvious, but seriously, I don't care if you have to blue tent, white tent, walk-up, or even sneak into the arena-you have to see the greatest rivalry in all of college basketball live. Not just because it's an experience unlike any other. But also because years from now, you'll tell someone you went to Duke, they'll ask you about it, and there's a good chance you'll wish you had gone, even if you don't like sports.
2. Actually attend a Duke Football game. As someone who saw more Duke Football games sober than probably her entire graduating class combined, I can tell you underclassmen that you have it so lucky. David Cutcliffe is the man, this team is more entertaining to watch than my high school football team (something I can't say about all the Blue Devil gridiron squads to take the field in my time here), and is only going to get better as time goes on. I would love to come back for my 10-year reunion to a school with an actual football culture, but the fans have to meet this program halfway.
3. Go to a men's soccer game on a nice Friday evening and snag a super-cool giveaway. I don't know why, but the athletic promotions people go all-out to get people excited about soccer, throwing everything from free pizzas to T-shirts to scarves at any student who is willing to walk through the gates of Koskinen. One of my bigger regrets is not getting one of those navy blue Adidas Duke scarves. Those were nice. Plus, soccer isn't nearly as boring to watch in person as it is on TV.
4. Get tickets for opening night at Durham Bulls Ballpark. I went my freshman year and B.J. Upton, a current star for the Tampa Bay Rays, hit a walk-off grand slam in front of a sold-out stadium to give the Bulls a 5-4 victory over the Toledo Mud Hens. It was one of the coolest games I've seen. Additionally, you can impress your friends from home with your intimate knowledge of the Rays' young roster, mail them a vintage Bulls T-shirt and remind them politely that, yes, the rose does go in the front, big guy.
5. Travel to Raleigh for a Carolina Hurricanes game. This is the one thing on the list I haven't done. I know it's technically not too late, but I also know I'm probably not going to get around to it. I've actually never been to a hockey game (I came of age in a dark period for the Chicago Blackhawks), so it definitely would have been a cultural experience for me watching a bunch of Southerners root like crazy for dudes on ice.
I apologize to you in advance because I'm absolutely missing a ton of things you should do before you leave this place, but the great thing about bucket lists is you can keep adding things until the very end.
And I know I plan to go down swinging.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.