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Senior Column: A tiny line can mean so much

Photo via Jonathan Michel

I’ve never been a fan of poetry. Just typing that word out is giving me unwanted flashbacks to high school where I dreaded the poetry class that I had to take. However, there’s a poem out there that is one of the few that has spoken to me and it’s called “The Dash” by Linda Ellis. 

To summarize, the poem details a man that is eulogizing his friend and mentions the dates that will be inscribed on his tombstone. The first thing that most people see and notice when reading about a person that has passed is the dates, but what’s most important is the dash between them. That little line represents everything in a person’s entire life that happened in between. 

I sure hope that no one will be carving a large, smooth hunk of rock in honor of me anytime soon, but as my college career comes to an end, I’m inscribing my own dash; one that will sit between the years 2019 and 2023 on my resume.

It’s almost surreal to try and cram everything that’s happened in my four years in Peoria, Illinois into a tenth of an inch of space on a Word document. I’ve just about seen and experienced it all during my time at Bradley, except for the inside of Olin Hall and the back of a BUPD squad car, thankfully.

My start at Bradley was characterized by looking out of my dorm room window and only being able to see the feet of other students. Literally, I was pretty much living in the basement of the antiquated and cramped Wyckoff Hall. I began hoping my feet were taking me places too, as I dipped my toes into working broadcasts of Bradley athletic events with Braves Vision and anchoring the entertainment portion of BUTV for the throngs of people watching (a.k.a. my parents and Dave Lennie).

With my feet under me and moving when the spring of 2020 rolled around, I decided to join The Scout and put my sports communication major to further good use. Little did I know what my future at this newspaper held and what I would learn about myself in the process.

Outside of classes and working in student media, I had quite a robust social circle, which was cool and all until the pandemic erased most of my freshman-year friend group. It’s hard to believe that my graduating class at Bradley is the last one that has a bumpy part in their dash after getting sent home from college for “two weeks.” I spent many evenings in my sophomore year looking at sunsets out of my Williams Hall dorm alone, with no Bradley sports to keep me occupied.

I considered joining a fraternity to help me find a new trusted circle of friends. I ended up becoming part of one that didn’t have any Greek letters for that matter called Clutch Sports Media. Many of the best moments in my dash have come from working over 200 local high school sports broadcasts that started with a tiny camcorder and a handful of people and have evolved into a regionally respected brand with a partnership with a TV station. In a span of 38 days – a microscopic smidge on my dash – during the spring of my sophomore year, broadcasting 35 basketball games for not a single cent of pay turned out to completely turn the direction of my college career around.

Photo via Jonathan Michel

I owe a truckload of whatever success I’ve had at Bradley to Larry Larson and Joey Wright, who not only founded that company but steered, mentored and trusted me enough to eventually help put me in the Co-Editor-in-Chief position at The Scout that I was in this past school year.

Throughout my days at The Scout, I’ve written, interviewed, podcasted and photographed the peaks and valleys of every Bradley sport and became closer with so many great people in the process. Being in a leadership role this year has required me to write on more serious topics, which forced me to break out of my comfort zone on a few occasions. All I can say is I hope that my future job doesn’t involve many trips to a courthouse.

Sometimes I had doubts about how I was spending my dash. During late nights plagued by social media breaks and birds chirping, I probably spent too much time lifting as much weight as I could for the organizations I was involved in during my senior year. As I look out my window as I write this, there’s a group of people yelling and laughing while playing whiffle ball on Alumni Quad. I often wonder how simple and carefree my life would look like without The Scout, Clutch Sports Media or Braves Vision.

Photo via Jonathan Michel

For just over half of my dash, I’ve found reprieve in a special girl named Taylor who I’m lucky enough to call my girlfriend. I look forward to the Sundays I spend relaxing with her away from the hamster wheel I find myself in at Bradley…until a boisterous young golden retriever named Finn has other ideas.

I’m still coming to grips with the fact that I won’t be a part of this campus in a little over two weeks and not seeing the people that make it great on a daily basis stings the most. When I would be at home over the summer, I’d be itching to get back to Peoria to write, edit and broadcast alongside the people who have become some of my best friends. 

They’ve been alongside me at the highs of somehow winning more ICPA awards than I could hold and the lows of slamming a press box table in frustration because of technical difficulties on a broadcast. There are well over two dozen people that have made the endless flurry of activity worth it and I wish I had enough space to list them all.

It’s difficult to find a way to describe something that means so much to you. Whether I’m looking back at the people, jobs, experiences or fun times after I put my cap and gown in the closet, I guarantee that I’ll still be trying to process it all. What will be clear though is that I’m beyond grateful that all those things were a part of my dash. And I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

One Comment

  1. Linda Ellis Linda Ellis April 28, 2023

    It warms my heart to know my words have touched your life in such a positive way! LIVE YOUR DASH! Linda Ellis –

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