Athletics is a way of life

Emma Collins

On May 9, I will head to Paulson Stadium one last time as a student of Georgia Southern University. This time, though, I won’t be wearing my finest game-day dress. I won’t be going to an Eagles’ football game. Instead, I’ll don a cap and gown and walk out onto that field to receive my diploma.

I hate to get all sappy and mushy, but attending Georgia Southern was, without a doubt, the best decision I’ve made so far in my life. Of every choice I have ever made, I know that this one benefited me the most. Being a citizen of the Eagle Nation is something that I will always be proud of. Becoming alumni is something that I will consider an honor.

Much of the joy and excitement that college has provided for me has been a result of football, soccer, basketball and baseball games. Without Eagle Athletics, I think the time that I’ve been at Georgia Southern would have been really boring. I can’t imagine Fall semesters without Freedom flying over the stadium, without the team charging onto the field or without the excitement of screaming fans.

Amazingly enough, I didn’t really like to watch sports when I first arrived at Georgia Southern. To me, football was something my dad watched on the weekends. Since we only had a TV in our family room, my mom and I couldn’t watch anything else but what my dad chose to watch. So, to us, football was a form of torture—something neither one of us understood.

But when I came to Georgia Southern, I found that football was a way of life. It was a sport that an entire school seemed to understand, so I asked lots of questions and eventually learned the rules of the game. Understanding the game helped me figure out that it was actually an enjoyable sport to watch and I’ve been hooked since Fall 2012, when I attended my first Georgia Southern football game at Paulson Stadium. Eventually, I learned the rules of basketball and soccer, and now I enjoy being a spectator of those sports, too.

Being able to write about different sports and athletes has been a pleasure and a privilege for the last two semesters. I’ve had the opportunity to meet many of the coaches, and they have always been so willing to sit down and talk with me. Men’s soccer coach Keven Kennedy is one of the friendliest people I’ve met at this school. He always remembers me and asks questions about what’s going on in my life, even if we’re out on the soccer fields during one of the team’s practices. I want to thank him for always being so gracious and friendly when we meet.

I also want to thank all the athletes that I’ve interviewed. Many of them spoke to me when they had just finished playing a physically and mentally demanding game, when they were sweaty and would probably would rather have headed to the locker rooms. But, they were always polite and talkative.

So, in just over a week, I’ll walk out onto that field, holding my head high and trying not to let my heels sink into the grass. I’m beyond proud to be an Eagle, and when I walk across that stage and shake President Keel’s hand, I’ll feel as proud as I’m sure the football team does when they walk off the field after a victory. Except, I’ll probably be shedding a few tears.

Farewell, GSU. Thanks for all the great memories. These have been the most amazing years of my life. I wish it wasn’t time to leave.