Column: Thank you for an amazing four years UConn
At some point in your life, you'll have your moment.
To me, that moment is the split second in which everything seems to click. It is the exact instant that gives you the drive and motivation to go out and make something of yourself.
Unfortunately for me, my moment came in December of 2010. As I watched my mother slowly die of more cancers than I could count, I realized exactly what my life had become. As I sat bedside next to her in the emergency room on the last day of her life, I realized how much time I had wasted.
Throughout my life, I always thought my mother was the only person who ever had faith in me. No matter how many mistakes I made, how many chances I missed, my mother was there to remind me of what she wanted me to become. To her, I was going to be something, regardless of how little anyone else believed it.
And who could blame them? Even after my mother's passing, I was never deserving of much faith. Laziness and immaturity turned to sulking and a "woe is me" attitude that saw me expect the world on the platter due to what I had lost. Truthfully, I didn't offer much and, at some point, I realized it was time to give others a reason to believe in me even if I didn't always believe in myself.
Much of that started with my time at The Daily Campus. I was a bit of a late bloomer, to be honest, as it took me until my junior year to really put together what I wanted my life to be.
The people at this paper, in just over a years time, have become some of my biggest inspirations and closest friends. Whether it was Tim giving me my first beat, Matt and Tyler's fascination with jacket-induced explosions or bonding with Mike Peng over Bruce Springsteen and cheese platters, every minute with this department has been special. Even meetings, the most tedious of meetings might I add, had become a weekly enjoyment, as the Sports Department truly became one big, obnoxious family. The people at this paper didn't just offer me a job or a friendship; they put their belief in my abilities and, more importantly, me as a person.
This is my last column for the DC and it is most certainly the hardest one I've had to put on paper. However, despite everything this paper has done, it would be wrong of me to not give credit to a few others for helping to make me the man I have become.
To my father and sister for always encouraging me to pursue something I love. I never fully understood it, but my dad's "we'll see" approach motivated me more than I could ever know. Dad and Allie, you two kept this family together while I was gone, and that's more important than anything I could write on this paper. Someday, I'll find a way to repay you two, along with Aunt Phyllis, for everything you ever gave me.
To my roommates, who always understood why I would miss out on chest day and pick up soccer, even if I made myself open to abuse because of it. I appreciate every Mario Kart, Nickel Night and Coach Jim Calzone Calhoun we experienced together. Regardless of what the card said, I never had to face the Gazebo of life alone (It wouldn't be a Ryan Tolmich column without one horribly placed joke).
To my friends back home who read my work and offered me encouragement. As far away as you were from Storrs, you guys were always there to tell me how proud you were, even the select few of you who couldn't tell a Shabazz from ShamWow. To Sailaja, Annie, Jonathan, Katie and everyone else who boosted me when I was down, I couldn't ask for a better support system. I love you all.
To the people at Bleacher Report for originally putting their faith in a kid with little to no experience and giving him an outlet for his work to be read by thousands. I was a lazy kid with a dream and they gave me an outlet to pursue it.
To Phil Chardis and everyone involved with the UConn basketball team for giving me the opportunity to cover the best team in the country. The memories made from this season, as a journalist and as a student, will someday be turned into Shabazz Napier bedtime stories that my grandchildren will hear until the end of time; Dual national titles to close my senior year. Who would have thought?
To Ives Galarcep and everyone at SBI for allowing me to take the next step towards achieving everything I want to achieve. Graduating is just a little bit easier knowing that I have the opportunity to work with the best soccer site in the world once I leave Storrs.
And to all of you, the readers, who made it through this seemingly endless sob story and for giving me a chance to entertain you throughout my journey. As clichÃ© as it sounds, none of this would be possible without you who give this paper life. You're as much a part of this paper as anyone because, to be honest, writing to yourself just isn't as much fun.
Finally, to my mother, Sherry Tolmich, for investing in me when few others would. I'm not even half the man you expected me to be, and who knows if I'll ever get there, but I'm sure you can take pride in the fact that I'm trying. I know this is only the beginning and that there is a lot of work to be done, but I know I'm taking strides towards achieving your dream. Wherever you are, thank you for everything you did. But now, I've got a world to conquer. Not just for you, but for myself.
Thank you again. Love you all.
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