Here I am, after nearly 15 months, writing my last article for FishDuck.com. I started before I even stepped foot on campus for my freshman year. Doe-eyed and terrified, I contacted Charles Fischer, an incredibly passionate Duck enthusiast who scared the crap out of me from the moment I started writing.
My first article was good, but the title was awful and my pictures were all the wrong size. And let me tell you, I thought that was it for me. Charles yelled at me so much I considered never writing again (I’m not kidding; I was scarred for life).
But I said, “Screw it — I’ll give it one more shot.” My next article took off, getting lots of reads and conversations going in the comment section. I never looked back; I was hooked. This is now my 138th article for the site. Since starting here I’ve been to the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex to record interviews with now NFL players, including the love of my life, Marcus Mariota. Seriously, I’m crazy about that man. I’ve sat in the press box at Autzen, Matthew Knight, and PK Park. I’ve been to Oregon’s Pro Day and talked to NFL scouts. I’ve had experiences I couldn’t have even dreamed about as a kid.
Most importantly, though, I’ve had the opportunity to manage and work with more than 50 of the most incredible, caring and at times frustrating people in the world. I love every single one of you and I will never forget the lessons you all have taught me. Editors including Mike Merrell, Dano Dunn, Gary Lillard and Natalie Liebhaber shaped me into the writer I am now: a confident (sometimes too confident as Mike will quickly point out) and defiant writer who is never afraid to speak his mind. Fellow writers, such as Kim Hastings, Jason Selby and Nik Brownlee have inspired me with humor, passion and fresh takes on old ideas. In just over a year I’ve taken in enough knowledge and experience to last a lifetime, and I have FishDuck.com to thank for that.
And here’s the catch: I’m only 19 years old. I have my entire life ahead of me, and I already have a portfolio of work that I’ll be able to carry around with me forever.
In this, my last post for the immediate future, I certainly wanted to thank those who got me to where I am now, but I also wanted to reminisce on my short time as a Duck thus far. Almost half way into my second year in Eugene, I’ve watched arguably one of the greatest players to ever put on a green and yellow uniform dominate Pac-12 defenses on a nightly basis as if they were high schoolers, eventually earning a Heisman Trophy and a well-deserved spot on the Tennessee Titans roster. I watched Joseph Young carry a young Oregon basketball squad deeper into the NCAA postseason than maybe even some of the players expected. I watched Edward Cheserek break records like they were Kit Kat bars. I watched Liz Brenner do literally whatever the hell she wanted, and excel at it. Seriously, that girl is a stud.
The plethora of not only sports at Oregon, but sports played at such a high level makes Oregon my Mecca. I was a sports nerd my entire life. I was an only child and — no joke — I would sit at my kitchen counter in the mornings and play games with the sports section of the LA Times every morning based on box scores. Yeah, I was that kid. I know it sounds pretty pathetic, but luckily I turned out alright.
I’m currently majoring in Advertising at Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication, and I have literally no idea what I will end up doing in my life. I don’t even know if I’ll want to work in sports moving forward. The best part about that is that if any one asks, I currently have the excuse of saying I’m 19 and I’m not supposed to have my life figured out.
But I’ll always have this. I’ll always have my experience with FishDuck.com to look back on. I’ll be able to tell my kids that when I were their age I was doing things with my life. I was chasing my dream. This is not my attempt to gloat, or to rub my life experiences in others’ faces. It’s instead meant to be a testament that anyone can do anything they want if they just try hard enough, no matter their age or their experience. If you push yourself, if you’re the first to clock in and the last to clock out, you will be noticed and you will excel.
To any aspiring writers, young or old, it’s never too late or too early to follow your passion. I love writing because it’s a beautiful form of art and expression, unlike any other. When I’m having a bad day, just by sitting down at my computer and typing for 30 minutes my troubles wash away behind the 13″ screen. I can trap my demons and worries inside one small word file, and from there my struggles can become art, or even inspiration to those fighting through the same emotions.
That’s a wonderful power, don’t you think? The ability to connect with strangers through story is something that will always amaze me. A few weeks ago I had a guy tell me he was a regular reader of mine, and that he had read almost all of my 125 articles at the time. That was one of the happiest moments of my life, and all it took was one guy.
For those of you reading now, I don’t know if this is the first, tenth, or hundredth article of mine that you’ve read and connected with. If you’ve read me before, you’ll know this is not my standard. My articles are never this self-involved, and they’re certainly not preachy. But in my dotage with FishDuck.com, I’ve decided I’m allowed this one. It helps that I’m my own boss and no one is going to tell me “no” besides Charles, who seriously still can scare the living hell out of me. Let’s hope he lets this one slide.
I’ve decided there’s only one way to end a ramble as catastrophic as this, and it’s of course an anecdote from my time with FishDuck.com. In late October of last year I started interviewing football players. I thought this was the coolest thing since sliced bread, but as I looked around at the rest of the reporters, I didn’t see the same excitement in their faces. Maybe it was the fall sky’s doom and gloom, but no one looked like they wanted to be there.
One woman, whose name and publication shall remain anonymous, told me she had been doing sports reporting for 40+ years. I’m paraphrasing, but she said something along the lines of, “At the end of the day, these guys come out and say the same sh*t. They tell us they will play hard, put up a strong fight, and ultimately try to pull out a victory.” She then looked me dead in the eye and asked, ”Do you know how freaking (she didn’t say freaking) boring that is to hear over and over again for 40 years?”
That’s when it hit me. Maybe my career isn’t in sports journalism. Maybe it is — who knows? I certainly don’t. No matter what, though, I will always do whatever makes me happiest. It doesn’t matter if I make less money, or live a less lavish lifestyle than I otherwise could. Confucius said, “Choose a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Well, cheers to not working a day in the last 15 months. Goodbye, FishDuck.com; I will miss you greatly.
With much love,
Top photo from Wikipedia.org