The Daily Illini

Editorial: Thanking our senior Illinois athletes

Illinois+offensive+lineman+Joe+Spencer+%2871%29+sings+%22Hail+to+the+Orange%22+after+defeating+Michigan+State+at+Memorial+Stadium+on+Saturday%2C+November+5.+The+Illini+won+31-27.
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Editorial: Thanking our senior Illinois athletes

Illinois offensive lineman Joe Spencer (71) sings

Illinois offensive lineman Joe Spencer (71) sings "Hail to the Orange" after defeating Michigan State at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, November 5. The Illini won 31-27.

Austin Yattoni

Illinois offensive lineman Joe Spencer (71) sings "Hail to the Orange" after defeating Michigan State at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, November 5. The Illini won 31-27.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Illinois offensive lineman Joe Spencer (71) sings "Hail to the Orange" after defeating Michigan State at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, November 5. The Illini won 31-27.

Many young boys and girls grow up with a love of playing sports. They have many different dreams: hitting a grand slam in the World Series, draining a game-winning shot in a final series or scoring the deciding goal in a soccer shootout.

Those are the dreams that many athletes try to make a reality when they play at the college level, including here at Illinois. The University has a rich history of athletes who have made the leap to the pros and excelled.

But the reality is that not all of those dreams come true, which is why so many athletes cherish their time playing college sports. College athletes learn more than how to throw a ball perfectly or set up a spike; these athletes form bonds and learn lessons that will lead to success in fields other than those which sports are played on.

That’s the reason why so many big, tough-looking seniors with bruises and blood flowing down their hands may be found crying when it all comes to an end. We’ve all been there, whether it be the end of playing high school football, captaining the debate team or even working for the student newspaper.

This class of graduating football seniors has gone through more than any collegiate football players should. Many arrived on campus with dreams of turning Illinois football around, or maybe fulfilling a lifelong dream. Instead, most of the seniors on the football team were forced to deal with issues that no football player should face.

They were lead by an abusive coach who “didn’t believe in hamstring injuries” and clearly showed no knowledge of how to lead a football program. They were forced to answer questions about abuse instead of discussing what went right or wrong in a game.

There were sudden coaching changes which forced players to go to the Memorial Stadium press box to answer questions that they hardly knew the answers to.

These student-athletes came to Illinois to compete for the flagship university of our state, not to become experts at receiving text messages about an urgent team meeting.

The Daily Illini Editorial Board would like to thank all of the senior athletes on campus. You provided Illini fans with championships and memories that they’ll remember with you down the road.

But to those football seniors, we say thank you for representing the University in the way you did. You went through turmoil,  but you kept your head high when answering those questions. In doing so, you created a calm in the middle of a storm.

Like Lovie Smith said, you helped lay down the foundation for what will hopefully become a great program, and for that, we thank you.

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