AS SEEN ON: http://www.jeffsolari.com/ and Solari’s weekly newsletter, Sports Chowdah
On January 26th, a Sunday morning, I woke up with a semester left of my graduate classes. 11 of 12 semesters completed in the whirlwind industry that is sports journalism. The job hunt was beginning as I embarked on what I thought would be a normal end of a six-year college career.
Nothing has been close to normal since then. Childhood idol Kobe Bryant, who helped bring me into the field of sports, was announced dead after a helicopter crash that Sunday morning. The news hit me hard with a variety of other stress factors accumulating in my life. That afternoon I stared at the television not really sure what to think.
Everything since then has been just as strange either in high or low. I got to cover the Beanpot for the Patriot Ledger which was a real dream come true. At that moment, I felt I couldn’t be stopped in the pursuit of my life long dream of getting to cover a professional team. I felt for the first time, I could see the finish line, my dream is fulfilled. I could see my life taking shape.
On March 17th, around a month later, things feel completely different.
A few weeks later I embarked on a spring break trip to Panama to do some reporting, it was clear to me within moments that this trip would be a life-changer. From hiking through the jungle of Mamoni Valley to spending a day on the breathtaking, San Blas Islands, it was the best experience of my life.
The cloud nine experience went to a national emergency in a flash. In a week plus since returning, Coronavirus has sent us me out of Boston and into social distancing. I will lose my last semester of college, my masters’ commencement and the last few months of living up the college experience. All gone. From leaving the greatest week of my life to the social isolation at my brother’s house within a week. All sense of normality is now gone.
My one emotional escape during all these years does not exist. My current co-op in the Patriot Ledger sports department is fluctuating by the minute. The sports job market doesn’t exist when no sports exist.
The final sense of normalcy left on the morning of March 17th when my other childhood idol departed the New England Patriots. The lone sports news that exists was hard to take at this moment.
In many ways, this feels like the end of an era. My childhood era. Three of four idols as a child have ended their careers for my team. Patrice Bergeron provides some hope, but the Bruins aren’t playing right now. The end of the era comes when I desperately didn’t need it. I am Stuck in quarantine for my last semester, without any sports to cover and no jobs to even apply for.
I can only hope that when I look back at this moment, it is not the end of an era, but the start of a new era. A part of my life’s greatest story.
I have hope that this is the moment that taught me so many life lessons. This is the moment where I look myself in the mirror and knew who I was and the person I wanted to be. That this is the moment that will make turning on a game in eight weeks the greatest feeling in the world. That this is the moment that I hear the sound of a ball hitting hit a bat one of the greatest in my life.
The moment where I look back at and say “I wouldn’t be here if this did not happen.” The moment where I see the Panama trip as the greatest week of my life again. The moment where I made decisions to improve my life. The moment where I become an adult.