By Darren Zancan

So this is it, the last column of the year. Off into the sunset with Ben Affleck until next year when I take a new position with the paper.stay tuned to see what it is. I really did not want to focus on one topic, instead cross the finish line on what has been an incredible year.

With just a few days left in the year we are gearing up to finish a long, grueling nine months. We must push ourselves to get through the last few days, often thinking “How will I survive it all?”

I mean this is Dead Week, but what teacher actually follows that mantra?

Regardless, we have a few days to solidify the work we put in all year. Like athletes do as well. Athletes push all season and it often comes down to the last part of the season as to whether a team will make a postseason push.

Look at the football team, it came down to one game, win or lose. Winner moves on, loser hits the showers.

The volleyball team had to win out to make the OVC tourney; same for both basketball teams. It comes down to heart and desire. I believe that any team can beat any other team on any given day. We are all humans and strive to be the best, but it really settles on that particular day and who is prepared.

Did we prepare ourselves enough this year to survive next year?

I know the life situations thrown at me this year have prepared me for the biggest events.

In college, character is defined, as a student and as an athlete. The quarterback, who has to put the team on his shoulders, will show character. The team that has odds against them going up against an undefeated Jacksonville State volleyball team, only to push through, even hearing the opposing team making fun of them, saying they do not belong. That is character, not to retaliate negatively. Instead take it out on them during the game.

When I came here to Eastern I had no realistic expectations from the school. I thought, I will get an education and that’s it. But what I have learned is far beyond what some book has taught me. The experiences and the people you meet along the way, help mold you and push you to become something.

Athletes come here for a plethora of reasons, but from what I have heard, they have gained more than they ever thought they would.

Maybe they have built up character, maybe someone took an interest in them and grabbed them by the face mask and put them in their place.

What matters is, for me, Eastern has been home, a home that I needed desperately and held onto.

Several athletes have left their home, some traveling thousands of miles, to be a Colonel. It’s maybe not the “mansion at the end of a rich neighborhood home with kids running around in their Gator brand sweaters and their fancy khakis” home, but who needs all that?

Athletes are privileged to put on a jersey, lead their team on the court, field or track and say they are a Colonel and do so with honor and character. That should be home enough for anyone.

We have coaches that have more than 30 coach of the year titles to their name. We have other coaches who restock their rosters, expecting a rebuilding year, only to shine instead. We have undefeated OVC records in tennis and track records shattered. The list goes on and on, but what it comes down to is character and the will to never stop and always push.

You always have to look for the finish line and strive to cross it, whether it is the first game or the last day play of the game.

Special thanks: Ann West, my sports designer. Most of you only see the content and the pictures, but never get to see the brains behind the operation. She is graduating, but I feel that she deserves to know that the section was brought to life with her amazing attributes and abilities. I had ideas, but she had creations and took my thoughts and made them into something incredible. We made a great team, but she will go on to do some pretty amazing things. Thank you Ann!