This is the end
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.
- I know it may not look like the first article I published here, but I assure that it is. [↩]