For me, no second-guessing Laker pride

Having pride in one’s university can be the difference between having a memorable four-year college experience and living through what seems like an endless nightmare. For me, I wasn’t sure if I’d have any Oswego State pride by the time I will be handed my diploma because I had absolutely no pride in my high school. I hated high school. It was mainly due to the students obsessed with getting drunk and smoking marijuana on a daily basis, but I never went to any school functions and I always rooted against our sports teams. It’s no coincidence that I don’t talk to anybody from high school or have any memorabilia to remind me of those unhappy times.

College was a completely different story. It didn’t take long into my freshman year to develop Laker pride. The people around me were level-headed and non-judgmental and the professors actually cared about reaching their students, instead of just going through the motions in the hope that a few students would score high enough on tests to bump up the class average to make them look better. While I don’t bleed hunter green and golden yellow (my blood is red, like every other human on this planet), I have no problem volunteering my time to help make Oswego State a household name.

Much has changed since I was a freshman four years ago. On campus, a brand-new science building is slated to be completed next year, the once-abandoned Romney Field House is about to get a much needed facelift in the upcoming months and The Village complex has provided students with the off-campus lifestyle while still being located on campus. In national news, the U.S. News & World Report ranked Oswego State among the top public regional universities in the north for 2012 and the Princeton Review included Oswego State in its book “The Best Northeastern Colleges: 2012 Edition.”

While all of that is fine and dandy, the aspect of Oswego State that garnered the majority of my school pride was the athletics. For four years I have covered sports for The Oswegonian and every single game has been a delightful treat. It’s great to see the 24 athletic programs excel and even greater to see the amazing support of the student body. The Oswego State men’s ice hockey team has the second highest average attendance in Division III at 2,463. The Oswego State women’s ice hockey team averages the ninth highest in attendance.

As a senior, I have been spoiled when it comes to athletics, especially those played during the winter months. The men’s basketball team is hosting the first and second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year after never appearing in the tournament in the team’s long history. The men’s ice hockey team is on the verge of capturing its second SUNYAC Championship in three years and will qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season.

But during my time at Oswego State, nothing filled me with more pride than seeing the women’s ice hockey team win its first playoff game in franchise history when it hosted Neumann University last Saturday afternoon. In just its sixth season as a program, the women’s ice hockey team advanced to its first ECAC West semifinal, where it will host SUNY Plattsburgh on Saturday at Ritter Arena in Rochester, N.Y. While it may not seem like something extraordinary to the majority of students, for me it was amazing to see. I covered them during my freshman year and watched as they struggled to an 8-16-1 record. But through their struggles, head coach Diane Dillon was always willing to talk to me after tough losses and team chemistry always remained strong.

While it is no longer my responsibility to cover them for the newspaper, I still try to regularly watch their games because the team represents what it means to have pride in one’s university. They were even willing to brawl the top-ranked RIT Tigers to make it known to the rest of the country that they weren’t going to be pushed around.

In roughly two months when I walk across the stage at graduation and am handed my diploma, ending a lifetime’s worth of schooling, I’ll be overwhelmed by the moment. But when reflecting on my time at Oswego State five years from now, I’ll be drinking coffee from my Oswego State mug nestled warmly in my Oswego State sweatshirt by the fireplace, reminiscing how proud I am to be called a Laker.