Like most of my fellow Michigan State Spartans, I was feeling a little depressed yesterday afternoon. Despite great effort, our basketball team fell to UConn in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. Along with many sports analysts and bracket builders across the country, I had hoped this year would be the year they made it to the national championship. But, alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
It’s often easy to get swept up in the ups and downs of college sports. For alumni like me, you’re invested in your school and want their success more than anything (especially when you’re going up against your rivals). But when losses like these happen, I have to step back and remind myself that a basketball team is not even close to the most important thing I got from my time at Michigan State. In my five years on campus, it was far more important that I gained:
- An amazing fiance. While we actually met before college, Michigan State was where we started our relationship, learned about one another, grew as a couple and made the decision to face the real world hand-in-hand, for the long haul.
- Absolutely great friends. Some of my best friends are those I met through FFA or NAMA or other classes in the College of Ag and Natural Resources. I wouldn’t have gotten through college – and it sure wouldn’t have been as much fun – without them.
- A professional network. Whether it was through internships, on-campus jobs or participation in various clubs, the professional network I continue to reach out to today is the one I started building during my time in East Lansing.
- My favorite memories. By the time graduation rolls around, every senior is just ready to be done. You’re done with classes and studying and exams. You’re ready to be in the real world, making money. And everyone tells you to savor those moments as a college student but I – just like all the students who came before me and those who have and will come after – didn’t really believe it. Now that I’m three years out of school, though, I savor those memories of club meetings and hanging out in the dorms and walking through old campus. It was a great time in life and an experience I will be ever grateful for.
As someone posted on Twitter, “We’ve won a lot of yesterdays. We’ll win a lot of tomorrows. We just didn’t win today.” It’s always hard to not reach your goal, but I’d harken to say that being proud of your school and thankful for the time you spent there means that you’re already a winner – no matter what the scoreboard says.