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Senior column: luck is strange

Photo by William Craine.

On the Fourth of July in 1939, Hall of Fame first baseman Lou Gehrig delivered a speech to a sold-out Yankee Stadium. The famous line from that speech was, “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

My dad always told me that he’d rather be lucky than good any day. Luck is such a phenomenon to me. Does luck exist? If it does, it hasn’t shown up for me at the Par-A-Dice. I don’t know what causes luck. I don’t know how it happens. All I know is that I’ve been quite lucky during my time at Bradley.

I wrote many columns over my years at The Scout. Safe to say, they’ve been my favorite part of the job. Last year, I wrote about how hard it is to connect the dots of your life going forward. It’s impossible, in fact, but I hope you’ll entertain this final column connecting the dots backwards over the past three and a half years.

Some people find themselves conflicted on which career path they want to take. I was lucky that I didn’t have that problem. I knew I wanted to have a job in sports after I listened to Texas Rangers broadcaster Eric Nadel’s voice on my radio during the fall of 2010. From that moment on, it was always sports or bust.

I chalk up a lot of my college experience to luck and strangers. I’m lucky that my cousin runs in the St. Jude Telethon every year because it brought me to Peoria to visit Bradley for the first time.

I was lucky that on that walkabout in the summer of 2013, I stepped into the GCC and was greeted by a total stranger, a short, older lady with spiky white hair, who was kind enough to take me on a tour of the building. Apparently, she was the dean. You don’t see many deans who go out of their way to help a total stranger. I was sold then and there.

I’m lucky that my family allowed me to move nearly 1,000 miles away and invested in me because they knew Bradley was my top choice. I’m lucky that attending Bradley also allowed me to be close to my grandparents, who have been instrumental in my life.

I didn’t know a single person at Bradley when I stepped on campus, but I’m lucky that I lived on Williams 3 as a freshman with a stranger from California, along with countless others who have been my best friends.

I’m lucky that I got the chance to be a residential adviser and was first paired up with my former RA, who has been one of my greatest mentors and friends since the day I arrived.

I’m lucky that after struggling to find an internship after my freshman year, I walked cold turkey into the office of a State Farm agency and asked to talk to a total stranger at a small non-profit foundation that I didn’t even think existed. It turns out they had an office and a closet on the second floor. I’m lucky that one of their interns was leaving in three weeks, and they had an open position. I’m lucky the boss’s last name just happened to be Bradley and he hired me that day. I had an awesome time working for free in their closet that first summer. I’m lucky that Mr. Bradley just happened to be friends with Mr. Nadel, and gave me a chance to meet my hero.

I’m lucky that three years after I first met her, that short lady with the white hair convinced me to take a risk and go to Hollywood, and helped me secure internships with iHeart Radio and the Los Angeles Dodgers. I’m lucky that the Dodgers marched all the way to the World Series and that I was there working every single moment of it.

I’m lucky that four years ago a lifelong friend of mine introduced me to a stranger who happened to be a reporter for NBC. He met me at a Starbucks and talked with me about my dream of going to the Olympics. I’m lucky that two years later that same reporter wrote a letter to NBC recommending me for the Olympic internship program.

I’m lucky that I missed my 21st birthday to travel halfway around the world over the International Date Line to work with the primetime producers for the 2018 Winter Games. I even got to help that reporter and his broadcast team on the bobsled track live from Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Finally, I’m lucky that I was recruited by a stranger at the activities fair to join The Scout. I’m thankful for the friendships that stemmed from the late Thursday nights in the office editing and designing. To my Scout dad, Chris Kwiecinski, thanks for hiring me, pushing me and assigning me stories that I didn’t know I knew how to write. To Alex Kryah, thanks for allowing me to cover the men’s basketball team as a beat writer and for teaching me how to “send it.”

To Cole Bredahl, you’re welcome for hiring you and letting you be my “boss.” To Anthony Landahl, good luck. You’ll need it. To P-Falz, thanks for making me look good and adopting sports as your own. To Maddie Gehling and Tori Moses thanks for “sprotsing.” I know it was painful, but that’s what you bought that incredible bean bag for. To Tony Xu, here’s one more “yeee” for the road. I hear if you write something down it will last longer.

Everyone I met along my journey started out as essential strangers. It turns out strangers can be some of the most impactful people in your life. It’s been a wonderful adventure every step of the way.

I don’t know if you make your own luck, or if luck is just something that shows up. Some people say luck is where preparation meets opportunity. If that’s true, then maybe luck isn’t a spontaneous occurrence. Maybe luck is the product of the people in your life that have prepared you to connect to that next dot. Maybe luck doesn’t happen at the next dot ahead, but rather continuously as the lines are drawn.

If luck is real, and I like to think it is, when I walk across the stage in a few weeks, I’ll consider myself the luckiest person on the face of the earth too.

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