By: Matt Coniglio
In a microcosm of my collegiate academic career, I procrastinated on writing my senior column. Though this time, my procrastination was not set on not wanting to write a paper or study or whatever else college students pretend to do, but because I wasn’t quite sure on what I wanted to say.
How may I leave some parting words to my fellow students, friends, professors, coaches and university administrators?
I want to start by thanking the editors, copy editing staff and whoever else dealt with me this year. I made it difficult on purpose because I knew you could handle it. I suppose I cannot travel further down this rabbit trail without at least mentioning a few people that have positively affected my stay in Cincinnati.
My family, from my loving parents to the brother most of you didn’t know I had, to my sister that isn’t even mine, have always supported me, through thick and thin and without them I wouldn’t be an iota of the man I am today.
I also must give credit to my wife in academia, who also may or may not have kept me attending and interested in class for three semesters, creating a narrative for the history we saw fit.
To my coaches and trainers, it’s been both an honor and a pleasure to be a part of this team for the last four years and even though I never reached the level of success that we had dreamed, the experience that we have shared will live with me forever. I will remain a fervent supporter of Xavier cross country/track and field, no matter if my road eventually leads to helping lead another program.
Finally, to my roommates, team-mates, friends and honorary room-mates, it’s been a wonderful ride together. Jay Bruce, Deutschland, New York, Boston and thousands of other memories gave us moments that not even amnesia could take away.
While our time here ends in a few weeks and it will never be the same again, our lives together will forever shape our outlook and perspective on life. Our time here points us in the direction of the future, whatever that future may be. Whether you begin a career as an Army Officer or surprise everyone by taking a sales job instead of the long-assumed career in politics, the life that begins after graduation was laid by the foundations of our four years of learning how to be monumentally great men and women in this world.
My advice to those I leave behind is much of the same thing I would relay to my fellow graduates: make good choices, take risks, find something that brings you joy and follow it wherever it might take you. The former two are not mutually exclusive.
There is a difference between being stupid and taking a risk, and the difference generally amounts to how much success has transpired in the situation. If you’d like a real life example, look no further than Napoleon. The emperor took some risks in his life, but he also conquered most of Europe. Napoleon also tried to invade Russia, which is the definition of a “stupid idea” in Webster’s Dictionary.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to find something that makes you happy. This is something that you can pursue by yourself or with the company of your friends. Lots of former college and professional coaches turn to playing golf because controlling a pitching wedge in the rain is 1,000 times easier than ensuring that your athletes re-main academically eligible, out of jail or both.
For my final thought, take what makes you happy and use it to become great, while still remaining good.
What do I mean, you ask?
As we strive to become the best possible version of ourselves, we must always remember that true greatness comes in holding tight to our values. Yes, those same ones that are hammered into our minds until we bleed: love, patience, graciousness, thankfulness. Without being good, you cannot truly become great. And if you are not great, then what are you doing with your life?
My friends, this is the end of our prelude.
The game is on.