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Farewell and Following Seas

April 13, 2016

My road to Eagle Totem took a little different path than Carter’s. If you had told me thirty years ago I would be doing a photography blog, I probably would have first asked what a blog was and then I would have told you that you were crazy. If you told me twenty years ago that I would be taking pictures at Eastern Michigan games, again I would have told you that you were crazy. I was probably the typical Eastern Michigan alumni in that regard.
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This is the end

April 13, 2016

The week following Martin Luther King Day in 2010 was a rough week for me personally. I needed to find some way to take my mind off things. Beginning with the relatively simple thought that I like to write and I like sports, and supplementing that with living in Ypsilanti, going to sporting events at my wife’s alma mater, Eastern Michigan University, and noticing that no one was covering EMU athletics, I decided that I’d give sports writing a shot.

I had no particular background in sports except as a spectator, unless you want to count playing rec league soccer in elementary school. I also had no background in sports journalism or indeed, in journalism in general. My grandfather was a professional journalist who, among other things, was an editor for a reasonably major daily newspaper and was a Peabody Award juror for six years. He tried to encourage me to follow in his footsteps, which led me to write a handful of reviews, mostly of classical music concerts, for a student newspaper when I was an undergrad, but that was really the full extent of my journalistic background.

So with nothing more than a desire to write and topic pretty nearly to myself, I started things off on January 21, 2010, with this brilliant piece of work: “Central Michigan wrap-up“. I also quickly established a precedent that I tried hard for a long time to stick with of covering all sports at EMU.

I wrote intermittently through that winter and spring, with the first comment on this site coming in early May. I really started to write more regularly in the summer of 2010, leading into the football season, Ron English’s second as head coach. In September I happened across Ken’s photography blog, where he had posted some shots he took at EMU’s loss to Central Michigan. I emailed him, asking if he’d be interested in shooting EMU regularly for Eagle Totem, and suddenly my little diversion became a team activity! A year later I was introduced to Jeremy through a common friend, and he jumped in with both feet.

It’s been a bit over six years now since I published that first blog post. In that time, with Jeremy and Ken, as well as others who contributed briefly such as Al Willman and Alex Alvarado, I’ve entered a world that I’d hardly even thought about previously. In addition to attending games at venues like Michigan Stadium, Spartan Stadium, Rupp Arena, and the Breslin Center, we’ve filed FOIA requests, called courts to track down legal records, questioned Ron English’s decision-making from the front row of press conferences, and occasionally even broken a story! We’ve covered players leaving for the pros and leaving in disgrace, and we’ve unfortunately found ourselves covering several tragic deaths.

This winter, coincidentally (yes it was a coincidence) around the time that Jeremy told us that he was done writing for Eagle Totem, I came to the conclusion that this would be my last winter writing here also. Among other reasons, when I started this blog I lived around the corner from EMU and worked in a job that generally ended at 5 o’clock. I’ve since moved three hours away from Ypsilanti, and taken a much more demanding job. I’m not complaining by any means (I find my new job extremely rewarding), although I do miss Ypsi, but it has simply gotten harder and harder for me to cover EMU at a level of quality that I find satisfactory. I was able to get to most of the home football games still, and I had hoped to make it to the end of the basketball season, but other things got in the way.

So here we are, nearing the end of Eagle Totem after more than six years. What comes next? Well, for starters, we’re not going away completely. Ken and I will both continue covering EMU sports, at least to some extent, at Hustle Belt. Here’s a link for just the EMU coverage there. As you can see, Ken has already started sharing his photography there, and you may find me writing or commenting about EMU (and other MAC teams, and beer) from time to time. I also have some non-EMU non-sports writing I’ve been wanting to get to for a while. Plus, you know, there’s that whole day job thing, and I do like to spend time with my family!

I’m sure that Ken will have some final thoughts to share with you during the coming days as well, but for now, I want to say thank you to Ken and Jeremy for helping me make my little blog into the go-to site for EMU sports coverage. As I mentioned, I started this somewhat on a whim, and without their help my interest probably would have petered out years ago.

Finally, I want to thank everyone who has shared a comment here. Another early decision I made was to take a hands-off approach to comment moderation, allowing anything that wasn’t spam and wasn’t an excessively personal attack. I’m proud to say that in six years, I think there were only one or two times we felt it necessary to block non-spam comments. So thank you all for making this not just a place to read about EMU, but a genuine community. That’s probably the thing I’ll miss the most about Eagle Totem.

As always, Go Green.

A Nice Night to be an Eagle

March 8, 2016

Since I had to work, I couldn’t make it for the whole women’s game, but I did make it for the last quarter. It was pretty exciting but it seemed like they had the game wrapped up at the point. Still it was a nice bonus for me, especially since they got the win over Kent State. I wish them the best of luck as they travel to Cleveland in order to take on the Cardinals of Ball State for the next game in the MAC Tournament.

I’ll make no qualms, it was the men’s game that I was going to see. I was a little worried since this would be the third meeting against the Rockets. Even though Eastern beat them the last two times, they were close games and tournaments can go either way. Much of it depended on which version of the Eagles showed up. After a slow first couple of minutes, the Eagles that wanted to go to Cleveland showed up. With the exception of a scare near the end of the game, they came to play.
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The Eagles Down the Rockets

March 5, 2016

A little over a week ago, I decided to get a pass for the Toledo game. I had a feeling that tonight’s game would be important for the Eagles in terms of getting home court advantage. I wasn’t 100% sure though because I wasn’t sure if they would be able to overcome the Huskies. They did manage to overcome the Huskies and set the stage for a chance tonight. I think one of my problem’s with this year’s team is their inconsistency. One night they look like they can take on anyone. Another night, they look like the Washington Generals. On some nights, they manage to do both.
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The Eagles Tame the Broncos

February 23, 2016

Tonight found the Eagles facing off against the Broncos of Western Michigan in the battle of the Wolverine Line. Eastern was coming off against their hard fought battle against Toledo and the Broncos were coming off a victory against the Chippewas. I was hoping for a good game and I think I got one.
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The Eagles Dump the Rockets

February 20, 2016

So the Rockets made the trek from Toledo. I think they were hoping to catch Eagles after their loss against the Bobcats. After Thompson got the jump ball, the Eagles had other plans. Eastern opened up the scoring and never looked back.

Things got a little more interesting as Toledo came pretty close to tie up the game but the Eagles managed to pull away again.
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Eastern Michigan Beats Kent State Basketball

February 13, 2016

It seems that Eastern has reached that do or die phase of the season again. When you lose games that you should have won, you find yourself in the position. The sad part is that I don’t think that this is a bad team, they are just frustrating to watch. It seems like they have a tough time sealing the game up. It almost seemed like Kent State was about to pull a victory out of the jaws of defeat but then the Eagles woke up and prevented that.
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And the Chips Were Fired….

February 9, 2016

I wasn’t sure what to expect from tonight’s game. I mean, they beat Central earlier in the season but this team has seemed inconsistent at times. I wasn’t sure what version of the Eagles was going to show up tonight. For the most part, it was the good version of the Eagles. Once they took the lead, they never looked back, although there were a couple points where things were getting nervous as CMU closed the gap. Fortunately, Eastern was able to seal the deal.
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The Night of the Long Balls

February 2, 2016

This was a night to remember. Once the Eagles got their first point, they never lost the lead again. At one point in the game they were leading by as much as 35 points. They would go on to defeat the RedHawks of Miami 94 to 69.
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Kent State Golden Flashes 73, EMU 58: Kent’s big men dominate

January 26, 2016

That was a horribly ugly second half, and we have some ugly final stats to go with it. Read more…