Monday, May 16, 2011

Where's Kevin? Where's Honey?

May 17, 2011

Dear friends, colleagues, UAA fans and Honey lovers,

It's been five months since I ended my road trip to visit the universities of the UAA. Five months since the soccer matches, cross country training and football games.

I miss it. It's hard to re-create the spirit, the smells, the sounds, the cheers in my room here in Atlanta. But I'm shaping it. I'm also reaching out to the athletes from the past from each school who personify the mission of the University Athletic Association. My plan is to solicit two alumni from each school and use their stories and their successes after graduation to show how important the UAA is.

I will soon post the first profile in this series, about Dr. Marsha Harris, who helped lead the NYU women to their national basketball championship.

A couple of months ago I was made an offer I couldn't refuse: To work for a few months editing newsletters for the fabulous Website, WebMD. Funnily enough, I keep running across the names of medical researchers at Chicago and Rochester and Washington in the stories we write about the latest medical research.

Because of my work at WebMD, I have had to cut back the time I am spending on the book. But I am still working on it.

It's graduation time, and that makes me think of all the athletes who will be heading off to jobs or graduate school and who will be leaving their organized sports lives behind. Leaving it behind for the first time in 15 or 16 years. What a shock it will be for them come September, when there are no practices, no bus trips, no team meetings. What there was, however, was a great education and a great experience of pursuing your sport at the highest level. The UAA is so established now, it's hard for newcomers to imagine what sports at your schools used to be like. The athletics programs existed long before the UAA. But no doubt the quality of competition and level of commitment would not be what it is today if that group of presidents hadn't gotten together in 1985 to get the ball rolling.

It's graduation time, and that makes me think of the juniors and sophomores who will be stepping into new roles next season. And the freshmen, who think they are hot or think they are not, who will be joining the veterans of Brandeis or Case or Carnegie Mellon.

There's a very good reason that people get teary at this time of year: What the seniors have accomplished is great and what they will accomplish is great. It makes folks proud, and sad, and ready. My own son, in fact, graduates this Sunday from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts.

And next fall, everyone will do it all over again. The UAA's 25th season.

Thanks to all who have helped with the UAA book along the way.

Kevin Austin

P.S. Aren't you forgetting about Honey? My trusty home on wheels is going just fine, parked halfway between my driveway and a pupular tavern known as Manuel's. I got mufflers now. And my couch doesn't turn itself into a bed when I hit a bump. And the black water tank doesn't leak anymore. On occasional weekends,  Honey and my girls, Claire and Leia, head to a nearby state park for a long weekend.

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