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Turning the Page

This feels like farewell, but I know it’s not.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Boston College Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

As my colleague and friend Arthur Bailin wrote two years ago, “one of man’s greatest faults is the inability to process events that come in the long term.” As I sit in a hotel room in South Carolina typing this, those words are starting to make sense for the first time. It’s been nearly 72 hours since I graduated, left my room in Ignacio, and said my tearful goodbyes. I still don’t think it has ended. My mind truly believes I’ll go back in a week or two. There are still tailgates to crash and classes to attend. But deep down, I think my heart knows there aren’t. Instead, just under 2000 of my classmates have scattered in the wind to go begin the next chapter of their lives. Many have jobs, graduate school, and service opportunities set up. Some, myself included, don’t know what that chapter looks like. Personally, I don’t intend to find out right away. I want to take a while to appreciate what just happened.

I have a mixed relationship with Boston College. I think a lot of people do. That’s the result of being anywhere for so long: there is rarely just good. There have been highs, there have been lows, and in between I went to class. But I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. And as I reflect on how I got here, I have been thinking about how much sports have shaped my experience at BC.

Quite frankly, this was always going to be the case. When I was looking at schools four years ago, I knew I wanted a few things. I wanted to get out of the Bay Area, where I grew up. I wanted a defined campus (my BU tour taught me that), academic excellence, ad I wanted to be near a real city. Everything else was up for debate. There are so many schools that fit these criteria. Sports set BC apart.

Why? To answer that, I think you should understand one of the most focal parts of my upbringing: Cal football. My two parents are Cal alumni, and because of them, Blue and Gold runs in my blood. As such, I attended Cal football games with my family for my entire life. Many significant moments occurred at California Memorial Stadium. I charged my first field there when Cal beat Stanford (@Brian Favat). I had my first “real” conversation with my dad when after a heart-wrenching loss to Washington. I learned I needed glasses when I couldn’t read the scoreboard on the other side of the stadium. I could go on, but I think the point is there: college sports have always been incredibly important to me.

I won’t say D1 sports are the only reason I came to BC, but they were certainly a factor. When I toured BC, on a windy and rainy day in Spring 2014, I fell in love with the place. It felt like college. My tour guide, a fellow economics/history major, went on and on about how much he loved BC sports, and how his favorite moment was upsetting USC. It reminded me of my parents, whose time at Cal was punctuated by “The Play”: five laterals and a lifetime of memories. I wanted the same.

This decision has rewarded me with so many memories over the last four years. Much like non-sports moments on the Heights, some are good and others are painful. For every time there’s an Alex Tuch OT snipe to win the 2016 Beanpot, there’s Wake Forest 3 – BC 0. There’s charging the field after clobbering Miami and there’s being forced to wear a Minnesota Women’s Hockey National Championship T-shirt next to the Flutie Statue (sent by my Minnesota cousins). But that’s what loving a place is all about: the highs and the lows. Winless seasons make upsetting #1 Duke all that much better.

Branching out of that, I will cherish my memories at BCI in particular. I love the people I work with, and I love what we get to do. I love the privilege and responsibility of covering Jerry York, AJ Dillon, and Kenzie Kent. I never needed a reason to go to every basketball game. I paid for the Gold Pass and I might as well use it. BCI just gives me access to the free food in the media suite and a mouthpiece to talk about Steve Addazio. That you, the readers, seem to appreciate what I have to say makes it all the more worthwhile.

It has also given me connection with others who love BC as well. The interactions I’ve had with students, professors (special shout out to Dr. Rutledge, Dr. Rogers, and Dr. Lyerly), and Alumni familiar with my work is something that money cannot buy. This tweet literally made every hour I’ve spent watching random teams’ games and scouring websites for relevant statistics worth it:

With all that said, there are some thank you’s I must give.

To Arthur: Thank you for putting me onto this role when you departed from the Heights two years ago. When we met in a WZBC radio show, I wondered whom this kid was that knew so much about BC sports. You took a young freshman under your wing, and I am eternally grateful for both your mentorship and friendship.

To Laura: thank you for giving this opportunity to me, a kid who’s previous writing experience was a semester-long stint at the Heights before I quit. You took a leap of faith and I can only hope I have rewarded that faith with unnecessary hot takes and competent writing.

To the rest of the BCI staff: your groupchat is perhaps the most meandering thing I’ve ever seen, and I love every second of it. I’m still not sure how I power rank apples. I don’t think I’ve even had all of these apples before. How am I supposed to rank them? Thank you for the support and wisdom in my hours of need and the flexibility to take whatever assignments get thrown at us.

I’m don’t plan on leaving BCI at this time, but I am departing from the region for the foreseeable future and I don’t know when I’ll be back. But I do know that I will be back. I love this place too much to say farewell.

So instead of saying goodbye, I leave with the words of my favorite animated tiger:

ta ta for now

Patrick Toppin

BC 2019