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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“.1 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.

  1. I know it may not look like the first article I published here, but I assure that it is. []
7 Comments leave one →
  1. Eric Walline permalink
    April 13, 2016 7:15 am

    Sorry to see you go. Thanks for your efforts.

  2. Ken Barna permalink
    April 13, 2016 9:10 am

    Dear Carter,
    Thanks for your outstanding work on the Eagle Totem. This was one of the two blogs that I read daily. Your insight and opinions were always something to look forward to reading. I’m glad that there will still be something to the Eagle Totem.

  3. April 13, 2016 9:46 am

    This was the first regular source of information I found when I started at Eastern in 2012 and decided to follow football and basketball. I really appreciate all the work you, Ken, and Jeremy put in over the years. Best of luck with your day job and I’ll be looking out for your stuff on Hustle Belt.

  4. Jeremy Rosenberg permalink*
    April 13, 2016 1:29 pm

    I know I thanked you in my farewell column, but one more time seems appropriate. I never imagined covering games at Spartan Stadium, Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, and all the great MAC arenas I was able to visit over the years. I certainly enjoyed myself covering the tourney in Cleveland. Best of luck to you, I’ve been going to HB more and more often. If you and Ken are there, I will make sure I am a regular visitor.

  5. April 13, 2016 2:35 pm

    I would like to thank you Carter, Jeremy and Ken for all the hard you that you guys put in to this site. It will be missed, not that many mid-major athletic programs have a blog that is dedicated to covering them. Eastern was lucky to have this coverage. As an EMU fan who lives across the nation, you guys made me miss Ypsi & Eastern more and more every time I logged on. I wish all of you the best, and I’m sure we will run into each on HB or some other social media sites.

  6. Frank permalink
    April 13, 2016 4:41 pm

    Thanks for the great coverage over the years, guys. Look forward to seeing you work on Hustle Belt and maybe seeing you guys at a game or two.

    Wish you all the best.

  7. art brooks permalink
    April 21, 2016 12:14 am

    carter, first-rate job producing tons of great info. we all appreciate your hard work that kept us in the know. best of luck, art

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