It's different each time you step on this campus at the start of the fall semester. You know that things aren't always as you left them in the spring -- that the campus may look a bit different, that you will be meeting and dealing with new people and situations, and that things will indeed change. Coming back to Penn earlier this year, though, brought with it an even more unique feeling. As a senior, I knew that many of the events I had attended or the things I had done in my previous three years would be done for the final time this year. It's a bit disconcerting at first, but it's the way it is. In the four-year cycle that is the undergraduate experience, one class must leave every May to make room for a new crop. And with that knowledge, one must realize that as great as any experience is during a college career, time is fleeting and the end is closer than you might think. Several weeks ago, I interviewed women's basketball star Diana Caramanico for a feature story that I was writing for the DP's season preview. It was a week before Caramanico and the Quakers would open the season at St. Joe's. As anyone who knows Penn basketball will tell you, Diana Caramanico is synonymous with Quakers women's hoops. She owns nearly every record in the books; she was named an honorable mention All-American; and she helped lead Penn to its best record ever last year. As I sat there during that interview, we talked about the records, about her desire for an Ivy title and about what she has taken from her Penn basketball experience. At the time, she was 19 points shy of Ernie Beck's all-time Penn scoring record for men or women, and she was ready to lead a Penn team that was predicted to finish first in the Ivies. When I asked her what she was feeling as she approached the first game of her final season, her reply was immediate. "This is our last chance." Penn had never beaten St. Joe's, and Caramanico would never have the chance to pull that upset after this season. When the Quakers took the floor on Hawk Hill two weeks ago, they did not emerge with a victory, but Caramanico scored 20 points -- enough to break Beck's record. But she wasn't just talking about the St. Joe's game during that interview. She knew that after three years at Penn, this is it. No matter what she had done over her career, there was no way to get around the fact that when this season comes to a close, she will never again put on a Penn uniform. She told me that each time she visits an Ivy League gymnasium, it will be in her mind that she will never be back in that place wearing the Red and Blue. Diana Caramanico still has a lot to accomplish at Penn. The Quakers will play just their second game of the season tonight. Caramanico told me she could not imagine her Penn career without basketball, but at least she has until March before she has to deal with that circumstance. For others, it has come earlier. "It still hasn't really hit me," Penn women's soccer star Kelli Toland told me yesterday. Just as basketball characterizes Caramanico, so does soccer for Toland. "When you think of Penn soccer," Penn coach Darren Ambrose said earlier this year, "it's Kelli Toland." But right now, Kelli Toland no longer plays soccer for Penn. On November 12, just after Penn secured the ECAC Championship, Toland stepped off the field at Northeastern University for the final time as a Penn soccer player. In the short history of the program, few players have made as large an impact as she has. She leaves Rhodes Field as the Quakers' second all-time leading scorer, earning All-Ivy honors in each of her four years and helping lead Penn to its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 1999. But just as Caramanico will for the rest of her season, Toland acknowledged each milestone as it passed for the final time. For her, the most poignant moment was hearing the national anthem at Rhodes Field one last time. It's a small thing, something you probably don't notice each time you hear it. But when it plays for the final time, you realize just how special it is. During my three and a half years at Penn, I've never been on an Ivy Championship team or competed in the NCAA Tournament, but I think I know exactly how Toland felt, how Caramanico will feel when the final buzzer goes off on her career and what so many other Penn students experience doing what they love for the final time. As I sit here writing these words, it's my final night editing the sports section of The Daily Pennsylvanian. My name will remain on the masthead until the official switching of the editorial boards next month and I will continue to write stories and columns on these pages until graduation. But for the first time in a year and a half, I won't have to be there when the sports section is being produced on Sunday night. The forty-hour work weeks are over, and someone else will be sitting at my desk next week. Editing this section is a tough job, making sure we cover everything we should and staying here until the early hours of the morning to put the paper to bed. And as I step aside, I know that I will cherish the time I spent as a DP editor. Just as basketball has done for Caramanico, just as soccer has for Toland and just as so many other passions have for so many other students, this newspaper has defined me. Editing this section has been a huge part of my life, and now it's over. I don't know exactly what to feel yet. Perhaps it just really hasn't hit me yet either. All I know is that while my class may not march into Franklin Field in caps and gowns until May, the end is already approaching.Comments powered by Disqus
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