Different? Yes. But things are looking up for Merseyside, Milwaukee, and Me.
Change scares me a little. Not in the stereotypical white republican way (because we stay away from politics around here) but in the way that fills one with fear of what is uncertain. The way that puts forth a certainty of change but no indication of its manner. For me, it’s not always so much that I absolutely must hold on to the way things are now (like the white republican stereotype) but rather the fear that my situation might become significantly worse. And even then, it’s generally just a fear of not being certain either way.
It’s this fear of change that made me nervously await manager David Moyes’ decision regarding a move away from Everton to Manchester United.
This fear would have had me insisting that I wanted Buzz Williams to be the man to lead Marquette to a recovery after this dismal season.
And it’s at least partially due to this fear that I hold on to monotony while envisioning improvement. It causes me to reserve my laziness rather than reach for excellence.
As it turns out, change can be pretty darn good. Thanks to Roberto Martinez, Steve Wojciechowski, and my dad, change is quickly becoming the centerpiece of my sports life.
If you don’t know, I joined the world of soccer fans in the Fall of 2012 after finding fandom with Everton of the English Premier League. My first season was immensely enjoyable, but uncertainty quickly surrounded my team when manager David Moyes left the club to take over the top team in the league, Manchester United. I was disappointed. I had, in my short time as an Evertonian, come to really like David Moyes, especially for the way he got his players’ best effort and seemingly maximized their limited talent. Everton had a very strong season, and by most standards had overachieved. Moyes was considered to be one of the best coaches in the league. So, obviously, I wanted him to stay.
Now, nearing the end of Everton’s first season in the post-Moyes era, I don’t think I could be happier with the way things changed. Everton, now managed by Roberto Martinez, are even better than they were last season. So well are they doing, in fact, that they have a very real chance of reaching their lofty goal of a top four finish (which, for those of you who don’t know, gets you into club football’s biggest tournament). Martinez brought Everton a new style of soccer and, along with club chairman Bill Kenwright (who I have also come to like a lot), added key players to the team that have unlocked far greater potential than I thought possible. Many young players have emerged as stars this season, and a number of long-term contracts have been secured.
Meanwhile, David Moyes’ Manchester United squad is really, really struggling. At best they’re probably looking at a sixth place finish, which will not qualify them for any European tournaments and is a major letdown after winning the Premier League championship last season. So disappointing has this season been that Moyes is very likely to be sacked.
I thought Everton were set with David Moyes. I felt confident with him as the manager, and I was uncertain of what change would bring. I had no idea that Martinez could make such improvements to the tactics and personnel while still keeping the great sportsmanship and work ethic characteristic of the club. I’m sure the front office would also have liked to keep Moyes around, and if they had a choice between Moyes and Martinez last summer, I’m sure they would have kept with Moyes. Funny how that works out sometimes.
I loved Buzz Williams as Marquette’s head coach. Were there some things about the team’s offensive strategies that bothered me? Sure. But I loved his approach to the game, his intensity, his commitment to building relationships with his players, his humility, and his faith in Christ.
Then, after I initially brushed aside the annual rumors of a departure from Marquette, I heard the shocking news that he was bolting Marquette after their disappointing season to take the head coaching job at….. Virginia Tech?
I was crushed, angry, and confused. It seemed to me that our program could be headed for dire times. After a tough season in a not-so-tough conference, we would be without one of the rising stars in college coaching. We would probably lose some players to transfer and some of our recruits were sure to decommit.
Then there was the ridiculous Shaka Smart fiasco. Long story short: we thought we were getting him but we didn’t.
But today I’m a very happy Marquette Golden Eagles fan. Yes, one of our 2014 recruits has already ditched us, and more are sure to follow. But it sounds like all the current players are staying. Duane Wilson has become my favorite player on the team, even though he hasn’t played a single minute for the Golden Eagles. And, oh yeah, we hit a home run with our hiring of coach. Steve Wojciechowski has really, really impressed me with his comments. He’s going to bring the right things to Marquette. Sounds like a great basketball mind (being an assistant at Duke will do that) and a great man, ready to take Marquette to new heights. And, as was the hope with hiring a big name, we probably won’t lose any ground with recruiting outside of the upcoming season.
However, truthfully, perhaps the greatest gain for Marquette in the last few weeks was the loss of Buzz Williams. Once a savior to Marquette fans, Buzz had one bad season, bolted, and left us all with questions. So many outstandingly quotable and inspiring statements that he had made seemed to lose all their worth as he gave his “reasons” for leaving Marquette and choosing Virginia Tech. The answers to our questions have not reflected too kindly on him. We learned he’s wanted to leave since 2011. He has been at odds with school administration for a while. Humble as he may seem, all indications are he has a little larger ego than we thought. We’ve now learned of his strange handling of Steve Taylor’s knee injury. Todd Mayo called his departure a necessary change.
It’s quite possible that all of this goes back to the sexual assault scandal in 2011 involving Marquette players. The situation was mishandled, and the administrative cover-up cost a number of people their jobs. And perhaps Buzz was the last horcrux in the scandal. All the players, coaches, and administration around during that time are gone now. Perhaps, despite the short-term brilliance Buzz brought to us, for the program to thrive he had to go.
I believe Buzz is a good man and a good coach. Just not as good as we thought he was. Just a few weeks ago I was confident that he and the program would fully recover after a disappointing season. I was looking forward to what he would do, especially with all the young talent at Marquette. Now, looking back, I’m glad this all happened. I’m glad Wojo is our coach. And I really, really mean that. I think an unforeseen change is going to end up benefiting the program immensely.
I get frustrated by writing. Quite often. I struggle with insecurities, time-constraints, lack of inspiration, and lack of circulation (of my work, not my blood). I only published 27 blogs this year. I didn’t come even remotely close to writing a Saturday List every week, and I gave up on the Power Rankings (if you hadn’t noticed). But I love writing. And I think I think I’m a decent writer. But the other day I felt like I was at a sort of crossroads. I felt like I had hit some sort of writing wall. As I read and write for school, questions of higher orders continue to swirl about me as I grow up and learn the art of writing. In my struggle, I texted my Dad, asking him what I should do. Among other things, he told me this:
“Keep writing. Press on”.
I don’t know if he knew how much his short texts would mean to me. And I don’t know if he knows how much all of his support of my writing means to me. I think I might have quit this blog for good a while ago if it wasn’t for him.
He also gave me the practical advice to write a greater number of shorter posts. I can still write dissertations on Nickelodeon, Kanye West, and the Oklahoma City Thunder, but I shouldn’t feel I have to do that every time I click “Add New” on the dashboard. He’s told me this before, but for whatever reason it finally made sense to me this time. On top of that, one of my English professors has been saying all year that the best way to write longer works is to commit to steadily writing shorter works, almost on a daily basis. And, for years now, I have been struggling with actually starting to write a novel as ideas swirl around in my mind, none of which I’m ready to focus on. And recently, as I have become more and more contemplative and English Majory, I have found the desire to write short stories, lyrics, and short essays. However, if I write up a short personal essay and post it for my once every two or three weeks post, many of you will probably be disappointed or confused.
So it adds up. I have finally decided to stop fighting against this idea. I’m ready for changes to SneakyGoodSportsBlog. What will these changes look like? Basically, I’m going to write a lot more. My beginning goal is to post five times a week. Some will be very short. Some will be very long, like a classic post has been. I will write of an even greater range of topics, using a greater range of styles. In short, this site will be more bloggy, and less like an archive of columns (don’t worry, it won’t become a personal diary).
If I’m going to do this, then I must ask for your help. Since I’m not going to post everything on Facebook or Twitter, I need you to take some steps to keep up. I know that you probably have other friends blogging while studying abroad or practicing photography who would also like for you to follow their blogs, but your commitment can be minimal. Bookmark my site, use that button over on the right hand side of the screen to follow me via email notifications, just do something to keep my blog close by. If you don’t have the time you don’t have the time, but that’s the beauty of a great quantity of writing. If you miss a few days, no problem. And, when I write a bigger post, I’ll be sure to post it to social media. Please, please, tell your friends about me. And, perhaps above all, give me feedback! Take a few seconds to comment directly on posts, and let me know what you think of my work!
Change is scary, and it’s not always good. But as my two most favorite sports teams have shown, it can take you to new heights you never would have imagined. Change is inevitable: it’s up to us how we meet that change. I think I can handle this (I’m not really a Republican anyway), but either way I won’t know until I try.
So. Here goes.
Thank you for reading. Let’s do this. Soli Deo Gloria.