This is the first in a new series on CUBuffs.com penned by various players who will give CU fans a one-of-a-kind glimpse inside the program like only they can.
"The Sad Goodbye"
My name is Benjamin Burney aka Ocean aka the Last Super Saiyan but you probably know me as No. 42 of your Colorado Buffaloes. And since I like adjectives so much I have decided to write a blog about reporting day. What to expect? I will focus on "The Game" and whatever emotions, experiences, and places it leads me, I promise I will do my best to capture it like photographer of circumstance. You might ask who am I to write for the Buffaloes...well I am a Buffalo so take your skepticism out of my prairie.
Today brings what some on the outside might call the beginning, but what we on the super inside call, "The Sad Goodbye." Last night was the last night of waking up when you wanted to and all this morning brings are the bright memories of a summer cut short by your masochistic passion for football. All the parties, all the laughs, all the good Danny Zuko-like times, fly by as if they belonged to someone else; you experience them from a distance but keep them at bay, you have to get your mind right on reporting day, so you say your goodbyes then get on your way.
But today is not a stressful day; we come and enter Dal Ward in small droves with fresh hair cuts, clean clothes, and some freshmen even wear jeans. There is a buzz in the air promoted by the diligent reporters standing like guardians of your persona at the bottom of the steps and upstairs the bustle and jolly chuckles of coaches ring back and forth off the walls. The younger players are caught up in it like Dorothy in a Kansas storm, but the older guys know better and wear mask to appease those who might give a jaunty slap on the back as they ask "ARE YOU READY!" Politely you smile at the rhetorical question thinking back to the three hot and rainy Boulder months of lifting and running, and a little anger tickles your eye at the audacity of such an inquiry but you let it slide, you will have plenty to expend your anger on in the following weeks.
Reporting Day is more symbolic of the end than it is the actual start of camp, so on a day like today you find yourself picking up a playbook and flipping through the pages as the hours pass by while you await the main event of the night, dinner. You walk into the dinning hall and see a full spread. That's how they pull us in, the first dinner they shoot for the stars with prime rib and tasty strawberry covered chocolates, then tomorrow, old hot dogs and Tostitos chips that are as old as the con which has been run on us. But let us live in the now; before we walk up to pile our plates sky high there is a genuine moment of reverence as we pray over the food. The tables are distinguished sometimes by class, race, and position, but even though we might appear separated and divided you will never see a closer family for we are all Brothers Under Friendly Fire and we still Stunt hard.
We always eat too much on the first night, but as our food settles in our stomach a small "tink" of a glass hitting a plate, or knife falling on a spoon gives way to another tink; Soon tinks rise from tables as players bang hard on plates and glasses and as an eruption of yells and cheers quiets the clattering, all the freshman duck their heads down in fear of what is coming. "Who Singin'!!!!?" Yells B.J. Beatty as he begins to point out freshman all over the room. It's the first night so not too many people get anxious and fewer are picked out for their initiation, but still, in the old school fashion of dinner and show, all us ole' head's watch cathartically as freshman and transfers sing nervously perked high up on a chair shaking or red from embarrassment as their voices squeak out over our laughs. Most are met with thunderous "BOOOOOOOOOO's!" But every night, if the right song is chosen that we can all sing along to the freshman, transfer, new equipment kid or trainer get a nice applause and then a, "1, 2, 3, that boy got talent!" This little ritual might not seem much, but in the heat of two-a-days it keeps our spirits up, especially when the other sports begin to come eat with us. What I have found is that you grab tightly onto what makes you smile and before your eyes open the worst is over with.
Next we must sit through a compliance meeting followed by speeches from other staff members about the day-to-day semantics of camp, and then it all culminates in a Welcome by Hawk that will undoubtedly have the words, "sword", "samurai", and "blue collar" somewhere sprinkled out within it.
Everyone has left the auditorium, it has been a long 2 ½ hours, but I remain, breathing in the must and tyranny of football that lingers in the warm air. My stomach and lower back lightly perspire as my head spins from the riveting speeches given by mentors and coaches alike. The sun has set, and the moon has begun to rise. It is easy just to leaf through our playbook and call the catch phrases on the top and bottom of every page corny, but you would be surprised what you remember in the worst of times; DISCPLINE, TOUGHNESS, LEADERSHIP, PASSION, all words that scream out to those with an ear to listen, and I have no choice but to hear their cries. I stand looking up over the now empty seats and remember my first meeting when I was a freshman. How I sat nervously thinking about the four years I had before me, as I looked below at all of the older seniors acting as if it was just another day. Today I look up and see that nervous little kid in the eyes of some of the freshman, I do not dare pacify it, it's good to be nervous.
It's amazing how quickly a mind can change, no longer am I wishing for the womb of summer's past, but now I stand perched on a high precipe gorging myself on glory promised by coaches and flashy imagery. Hawk vehemently spoke and the highlight reel streamed on behind him and I like so many other famished disciples of this sport felt goose bumps and the endorphins exploding in the back of my brain as my heart leaped with joy. It's here, it's here!
I head home now and see the moon and feel the change occurring. The hair stands up ever so slightly on my forearms and my hands curl over like hooves. Before the night is out and after watching Any Given Sunday, Friday Night Lights, or Remember The Titans, the transformation would be fully underway. No longer would the mirror of my bathroom reflect Benjamin Burney, hopeless romantic and connoisseur of carpe diem, no instead a wraith will stare back at me bent over and contorting in pain as its two scarred shoulders hold up opportunity and the possibility of failure on either side. He will whisper out to me, "Here embrace the fear..." as he pushes forth the stone tablet of failure, and I will say, "Give me both, for it is finally time." This is my team, it ain't coach Hawk's; It is Cha'pelle Brown's team, Marcus Burton's team, Jeff Smart's, Matt DiLallo's, Taj Kaynor's, it is all of ours. The Wraith shrieks back into the shadows and a Buff stares out from the mirror, The Sad Goodbye has turned into a phantasmagoric welcome. Yeah it's time; the moon is full... here comes a beautiful monster.
It is reporting day. Tomorrow is a different day, the true beginning, but before that sun comes we still have one more restless night of sleep where dreams of the impossible become possible; but for some of us, the ones whose last hoo-ra this is, for those who are fighting for a starting spot or to keep one, it ain't about making the impossible possible, it's about making the possible seem impossible for anyone else to do, and that comes from a true artist of his craft. So, Goodnight Buff Bloggers, thank you for reading.