Victories and victory laps

I can rarely tell you what day it is, but I can always tell you what happened in last night's game. Sports are my calendar.

The dog days of summer drag on until football season and the school year finally begin. The first few weeks are drawn out and exciting because you think there's so much time to savor it—next thing you know it's the playoffs and finals and basketball season all at the same time.

Basketball season flies by and March almost always ends prematurely, fading into drafts and graduations and promises that next year will be "the year"—the year you watch your team go all the way or finally get your GPA up or reconnect with lost friends.

Sometimes they throw an Olympics or a World Cup in there just to make things more exciting, but no matter what, you end up right back where you started—summer nights at the ballpark, waiting to start the cycle anew.

This year is different. The cycle has turned into a ticking clock. The next Senior Day is ours.

Everyone goes to college hearing that it will be the best four years of their life—which is great when you're an 18-year-old with it all sitting ahead of you. When it's three years later and those best four years have melted away into your last seven Saturdays in Wallace Wade and a dozen or so nights at Cameron, it doesn't feel like that much.

That's the downside of living your life by the sports calendar. You are always looking forward to the next thing—the next game, next year's team, next year's crop of recruits that are always without fail poised to turn your program around.

Spending a lot of time thinking about tomorrow makes it pretty easy to forget about today.

In the past three years, my job has taken me from the sidelines at Duke to the Carrier Dome and the Georgia Dome and seemingly everywhere in between. That has given me far more than the chance to cross a few items off my sports bucket list—I've racked up a lifetime's worth of memories in the process. With one more year before my life takes a drastic turn, I have the chance to add to that stash.

The only problem is, I'm not sure if I want to. I worry about losing people at the expense of sports and sports at the expense of people.

I don't know if I want to live my life by the sports calendar this year. I don't want senior year to fade from football season to basketball season to graduation in the blink of an eye. I could spend this next year concentrating on things that are probably more important—like my grades or finding a job or my last year of going to school with my sister.

I would redshirt if I could. Who wouldn't want to tap into their fifth year of eligibility? The only thing stopping my classmates and me is that a fifth year means another fat tuition check. I don't think any of us is hoping this one goes into OT.

But if there's one thing sports has taught me, it's that you can't script anything and gameplanning only gets you so far—stories, like games are meant to evolve organically, and the most memorable ones are always the most triumphant and the most agonizing.

If there is one thing to not worry about, it is that being a senior brings out the best in you, both on and off the field. There are two times players are guaranteed to perform their best—when they're in a contract year (in hopes of earning more money in free agency) and when they know they have the chance to go out on top (see Michael Jordan, Ray Lewis, Tim Duncan and Tim Duncan after he realized he could somehow get better and win another championship). Most college seniors can easily identify with one or both of those categories.

So turn the calendar to a new year. Ready or not, it's time for my last ride.

And the best part is, there's no pressure—if I was really that great, I would have gone pro after freshman year anyway.

Daniel Carp is a Trinity senior. He served as sports editor of The Chronicle's Volume 109.


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