In all likelihood, this will be my last published piece in The State Press.
Please, hold back the tears until the end of the column.
I began working for the paper as a freshman in the spring of 2010. I started out covering the gymnastics team and worked my way to the football and baseball beats.
Over my five semesters covering ASU athletics, I’ve come across some great people and some not-so-great people.
The following words are focused on the athletes I’ve enjoyed covering the most. I’ll let the bad eggs off the hook.
Mary Atkinson (Gymnastics, 2011 graduate)
On a bad Sun Devil squad in 2010, Atkinson kept her team afloat by competing in the all-around competition in every meet for ASU.
She consistently let teammates off the hook after falling on routines with her superb diligence. As a junior, she was an All-American on the vault.
Furthermore, she was named the Pac-10 Scholar Athlete of the Year in gymnastics in 2011. Sadly, her senior season was cut short because of a torn ACL, but her leadership and general kindness always shined through above everything else.
Brady Rodgers (Baseball, junior)
The first Sun Devil baseball player I interviewed turned out to be the best. By the way, there’s photographic proof of said meeting in the form of my Twitter profile picture.
Rodgers was thrust into the No. 1 starting pitching role as a sophomore, but he never showed his lack of experience on the mound or at the podium. He was very open about his performance when he had a good night, but to his credit, he was just as open on the off night when things didn’t go his way.
Selected in 39th round of the MLB Draft out of high school and largely overlooked by some scouts in favor of a few of his teammates, Rodgers — who is averaging a 1.13 ERA so far this season — has put himself in great position to be drafted in the first round come June.
Omar Bolden (Football, 2011 graduate)
By far the most colorful interviewee I spoke with at ASU, Bolden is simply one of a kind. There is no raining on his parade, even when clouds are gloomy.
Poised to turn in a memorable senior season after announcing his return in dramatic fashion at a press conference, revealing a Sun Devils jersey under his shirt, Bolden tore his ACL last spring and missed the entire 2011 season.
Despite not playing in any games, Bolden served as a mentor all year for the players who stepped in for him. As the creator of the “#PositiveLiving” campaign on Twitter, Bolden will most likely be the second ASU player to be taken in the upcoming NFL Draft behind Brock Osweiler.
Cory Hahn (Baseball, sophomore)
Hahn became paralyzed while sliding into second base last February, two days into his collegiate career. While lying on the ground unable to move, Hahn told ASU coach Tim Esmay, “Damn right I’m safe.”
I’ll never forget those words, and I’ll never forget Hahn, even though we had little contact. I wear a bracelet with his name on it every day because it makes me proud to be a Sun Devil.
Despite the odds being stacked against him, Hahn believes he will walk again someday, and you know what? So do I.
Thanks for the memories, guys.
Reach the columnist at email@example.com