Position: Online Co-Head Copy Editor
College: University of Missouri
I’m going to be a Missouri Tiger next year. To almost all of you, that’s not a big deal. I’m just another kid going off to college.
But what if I told you that just a month ago, I was superstitiously switching my socks at halftime of the National Championship, praying for a Jayhawk comeback.
Jayhawks are supposed to hate Tigers. Trust me, I know. My room is painted crimson and blue, with autographs from Drew Gooden and Danny Manning and photos with Bill Self hanging throughout. I spent my whole life cherishing the few times I was in Lawrence, whether cheering at Allen Fieldhouse, or putting far too much Tabasco sauce on slices of pizza at Schlotzsky’s after football games.
Right now you are probably thinking, “This guy is biggest backstabber since Benedict Arnold.” Who knows? I might be.
But if there is one lesson I take away from East, it won’t be about circular integrals, the populist movement or the literary significance of Miss Havisham in “Great Expectations.” The most important lesson will be one I’ve learned multiple times – in track, cross country and journalism. It’s a lesson of trial and error, of experimenting, of not settling with your first idea.
Only a few months after watching the greatest Jayhawk team of my lifetime steal the National Championship from Memphis, I started my journey at East. I became a football player and a pretty dang bad one at that. I was the third-string tight end for the Freshmen B-Team. My biggest contribution to the team was my one catch: a lowly two-yard snag that I bobbled and dropped, but somehow painted the illusion of catching by landing on it. To put it bluntly, I sucked at football. Every minute that Mr. Layman’s lectured on about gangster math, I was dreading the moment I’d have to put on those pads in forty minutes. The up-downs, the murderous hills, the screaming of coach McGrain as I failed to get low enough on my tackles–it just wasn’t for me.
And as the years went by, being a KU fan just wasn’t me. Yes, almost every shirt I own probably represents the ‘Hawks in some way, but I started to feel like the wannabe fans I mocked for years. I don’t really know what it was; it just became something casual. I didn’t care as much. My knowledge of the starting lineups dwindled tenfold. Heck, last season I couldn’t even name the starting quarterback of the football team.
This realization epitomized this March, a time where even the most fair-weather fans cheer until they’re red in the face from cursing out the ref who is just giving the game away. Yet, I found myself just not watching KU’s first game, and instead watching the entire Tiger loss against Norfolk State. And the thing was, I was pulling for Mizzou. I ended up watching another KU game until the Elite Eight, when I was essentially forced to at a watch party. It was then that I realized I was no longer a fan.
It was like when I realized I never wanted to be a football player. It just wasn’t right.
It reminded me of when I took a chance on something I had once hated, running, and turned into a varsity cross country career, where I would meet the best friends I’ve ever had.
Throughout high school, I’ve continued to not just go with my first idea. In track, I’ve gone from a shot-put thrower to an 800 meter runner to a mile runner to a two mile runner and back to 800 meter runner, all in my four year career.
So what does any of this have to do with me deciding to go to Missouri, possibly the worst thing any true Jayhawk fan can do?
Well, when I visited Mizzou, just to appease a family friend and my mom, I kept looking for things to hate. But it didn’t happen. In fact, I found myself loving the feel of Columbia.
It was just the right fit for me, as much as I hated the idea at the time. I could actually see myself slaving through the night in their journalism school, taking a morning run through scenic Columbia, and it wouldn’t hurt that some of my friends would be going there. It was familiar, but different. But I still questioned if I could actually turn on Big Jay and company.
And then I realized that my life has never really gone according to plan. I’m not a football player. I’m not a straight A student. I’m not the senior leader whose voice commands the attention of the room.
I’m not the huge Kansas fan I once was.
MU felt right. KU didn’t. It was as simple as that. And East has taught me that if something just feels right and you enjoy it, you should stick with it.
And who should care about where I go to college? It’s my choice. I’m the one spending the next four years of my life there. Now, I’m not saying that MU is better than KU. I’m just saying don’t knock something, before giving it a shot.
And that is why I’m going to Missouri.