Hey Doug, look

Jeff Russ

I started thinking about this senior column a long time ago. My original plan was a line graph with how much money I spent on girls at bars and the amount of fun I actually had. Then something happened … I got a girlfriend and all my friends started to hate me.

But this isn’t about her or them. It is about the one thing I will never forget about the Daily Kent Stater – road trips.

Being a sportswriter is the best thing you can do with your life. You get free food, free admission to games, free gas on the road and, most importantly, cheerleaders dance like two inches from the media row at basketball games: a virtuoso lap dance for hard-blogging, overweight, lonely reporters. I didn’t notice that part though (see my opening girlfriend paragraph, wink).

I don’t know if you realize it or not, but from the time Joe (Brock) Harrington, Doug Gulasy and I joined the Stater, we went on more road trips for the paper than anyone else probably ever has in the 100-some years of this paper.

But it wasn’t just getting into a car with a laptop and a notebook. It was the type of bonding experience very few college friends have ever had. There were rules of the road:

1. Beef jerky – You had to eat it in a car on every road trip.

2. Jethro Tull – You had to listen to it on every road trip. If you didn’t have a copy of it, you had to call a classic rock DJ and force him to play “Thick as a Brick.”

3. Dinner – You had to eat dinner at Outback or Red Lobster.

4. “Hey Doug, look!” – You had to yell that when you passed an adult bookstore or strip club billboard on the highway.

5. Toys – You had to buy a toy for a certain member of the sports staff I will not name.

6. Room keys – You had to save the hotel room key and hang it up on the sports staff wall when you got back.

7. And the most important rule – What happens in the Monte stays in the Monte.

Joe, Doug, Danny Doherty, Jonas Fortune, Randy Ziemnik, Thomas Gallick and whoever else joined me on the road had some of the greatest and most candid conversations on I-71, I-77, and in the-middle-of-nowhere Indiana, and I plan on keeping it that way. But, what I can do is tell the best moments from the road that you never realized happened.

When talking about the best moments, I have to start in the Monte, spinning out on the ice in the middle of a snowstorm. Joe, Jonas and I went to Central Michigan University on a snow day last year when the Flashes won their 20th game for the 10th consecutive year. Our editor at the time told us we shouldn’t go, but we lied to him and told him we were on the highway already OK, but I almost died. When Joe spun on the ice, all I could do was watch the guard rail and brace myself. Somehow, Joe’s great driving prevented the accident and allowed me to write this column. Seriously, I almost died for this paper.

I would die again and again for the Stater. It is the best thing I have ever done in my life. I would sit at the Stark Campus reading the Stater as a freshman and imagine what it would be like to be a part of the paper. I wrote four applications the first time I applied because I was so scared of not being a part of this paper. I laugh as I write this, because without the Stater, (and Joe’s great driving) I would not have a future job, a girlfriend and the best people I have met in my entire life.

From field hockey to train crashes, I hope you enjoyed every story I produced for the paper, and I hope you enjoyed finding out what it was like to get those stories.

But I would be failing myself if this last sentence wasn’t devoted to Joe, Doug and Danny, because college didn’t become college until I met and traveled with these guys – they are the best friends I have ever had.

Jeff Russ had the time of his life being a sports reporter, sports editor and campus editor for the Daily Kent Stater. He received hate mail for a column once. If you have some, contact him at [email protected].