A summer sign off: You stay classy, Champaign

By Courtney Linehan

Every college kid should get to do what I do. Since sophomore year I’ve gotten free tickets to any Illini sporting event I wanted to see. I got to analyze every one of those games, then tell the rest of the world just what I thought about them. I’ve traveled coast to coast on somebody else’s dollar. I got a free spring break in San Diego and did my Christmas shopping in Portland, Ore.

Today I want to say thank you to those who made this four-year journey what it was.

First, my mom and dad, who encouraged me, listened to me vent, tried to keep me from stressing out too much and reminded me I wasn’t here to cover the football team but to get a degree. And who financed my four years in Champaign.

Next Mary Cory, who picked up the tab when I left town and did what few publishers in the world will do, giving me a blank check to cover the 2005 basketball season. I would be lucky to have that freedom in any other newspaper I may pass through.

Erin and Anna, two of the best DI friends ever. You guys are amazing, and college would not have been the same without you.

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Cassie Arner, who put up with my antics at practice, didn’t banish my photographers, bent over backwards to get me interviews even when it was just for class, ate my burnt cookies when I was trying to bribe her, counted “ums,” and listened to three years of finalizing my Top Five list.

KB, DR, Burson, Benny T, K-Mart, Kooner, Special Duty, Sam, Travis, Kevin, and anybody else who ever worked at Sports Info in the last four years. Thanks for putting up with odd requests at odd hours and keeping me entertained though many an Olympic sport event.

Coach Zook, for not trying to say “no” too often, not rolling his eyes too often, and saying “Thank you, Gentlemen” after every press conference. Thank you, more than anything, for having open practices.

Coach Weber, for being the kind of coach every reporter wants to cover. Your theory of “If I don’t lie, I don’t have to remember what I said,” made for some of the best quotes I’ve ever repeated. And your concern for your athletes got a lot of people through a really hard February.

Kyle Cline, for trusting me against his better judgment. Dan Maloney, for letting me in the Chief locker room for the final dance against Dana’s better judgment. Logan Ponce, Matt Veronie, Tom Livingston and Steve Raquel for following suit.

The 2004-05 Daily Illini Sports Staff, who gave me the most memorable year of my life. I love you all. Thursday nights have not been the same since you graduated.

Linda, Stef, and the AD Pi’s for letting me pretend to be greek once in a while.

Bob, Brett, Paul, Stu, Lindsey, Jim, David, Steve, Cation, Marlen and Neil, for making practices, games and road trips a blast.

Jim, David, and Rick for giving me the chance of a lifetime covering D-I college sports for the Associated Press. And Stu, for giving me a steady check for doing random work for the Post-Dispatch.

While I’m at it, Patrick, Jane, Cara and the rest of the RedEye gang, who let me live out my dream of working for the Chicago Tribune and taught me more about journalism in 10 weeks than I’d learned in the previous three years.

And finally all Illinois athletes, especially the following, and for various reasons: James Augustine, Jackie Bain, Rejus Benn, Abbey Bernardo, Eric Block, Arthur Boyd, Josh Brent, Dee Brown, Mike Clamovski, Jason Davis, Vontae Davis, Bo Flowers, Chester Frazier, Xavier Fulton, Josh George, Hillary Haen, Michael Hoomanawanui, Chris James, Jeff Jordan, J Leman, Frank Lenti, Ryan McDonald, Drew McMahon, Brit Miller, Juice Mitchell, Josh Norris, Duke Preston, Jason Reda, Matt Sinclair, Jamar Smith, Barbie Viney, DaJaun Warren, Steve Weatherford, Juice Williams and Kyle Yelton.