COLUMN: Kolanos to Kelly, Kid To Critic
Published: Thursday, December 12, 2013
Updated: Thursday, December 12, 2013 02:12
It was 2-2 on the evening of Saturday, April 7, 2001. Having lost to the North Dakota Fighting Sioux one year previous, the hopes of Boston College’s hockey team were riding on the stick of Krys Kolanos. As he skated down the left side of the ice, green sweaters attempted to mob him, but with the puck at his stick, he breezed by Aaron Schneekloth before corralling it with his handle’s backside. He cut across the North Dakota goaltender and—with a gorgeous sweeping motion—he was able to find enough space to slide the puck into an open net.
The Eagles were national champions.
I jumped up and down in my basement as head coach Jerry York’s coaching staff mobbed him. Kolanos’ overtime winner was a magical moment to end a wild year in the world of BC sports. Earlier that season, Kolanos claimed MVP when the Eagles won their first Beanpot since 1994. On the hardwood, the Troy Bell-led basketball team waltzed its way to victory in the Big East Tournament, before crashing out of the NCAAs just days later.
Those two teams, hockey especially, provided me with my first taste of winning. I was that kid on the kindergarten soccer field who bullied you to be first to the ball, and I bemoaned each loss, too, but BC’s victories were different—my parents went to BC and I grew up with the school, hence my attention. Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary is etched in my brain, and I bawled after the football team lost to Syracuse and threw away a trip to the Fiesta Bowl on the final day of the 2004 season. Few will remember that Matt Ryan threw three interceptions on that fateful day.
BC’s move to the ACC brought so much pride, as it showed the continued rise of the school’s sports program, but there were always the pessimists who thought the school would be smothered by the likes of Florida State on the gridiron and North Carolina on the court.
The school’s first test came on a rainy Saturday in September 2005 when College Gameday visited Chestnut Hill for the school’s inaugural ACC game against the Seminoles. Sitting above the 50-yard line sporting a maroon and gold sweatshirt, not to mention a massive ticket given to attendees that night, I watched BC come back to take a 17-14 lead.
“ESPN must be loving this,” someone behind me said.
I’m sure it was with BC in the lead, but once Quinton Porter went out with an injury the Seminoles came from behind to win.
BC’s first major ACC Championship game came the next spring. Jared Dudley’s energy and respected basketball IQ were present against JJ Reddick’s Duke, but they were not enough to secure victory.
Those were the days when I would excuse myself from class to go to the bathroom, when in reality I was headed to the library to check the basketball team’s progress. I will never forget when the librarian at my school allowed me into a back office to watch the Eagles battle to a double overtime victory over Pacific on a six-inch TV.
Losing to Villanova eight days later was painful, though, because as I had said so many times over the course of the 2006 season, “that was the team.”
In 2007, Ryan made up for disappointing Alumni Stadium in 2004 by orchestrating a famous Thursday night comeback at Virginia Tech. But when BC fell to the Seminoles one week later, losing its spot in the national title game, I was left emotionless.
I had become numb to the school’s defeats. I was growing up.
The future of BC sports was bleak headed into 2008, even though men’s hockey had won its third national title. Al Skinner’s “Golden Generation” who ran the “flex” to perfection was gone, and Ryan was in the NFL.
But that year was not as bad for BC as it could have been. Dominique Davis and Montel Harris led the football team to another ACC title game, which it lost. BC’s backfield of freshmen could have developed into college football’s best by their graduation. Neither earned a diploma from BC.
While covering men’s basketball for four years through my high school’s newspaper, I continued the switch from fan to cynic.
In my first months at BC, I have been able to find a balance between fan and journalist. While those afternoons and evenings at Alumni and Conte with a Superfan shirt on make it difficult not to support the Eagles, nights with the men’s soccer team bring me back down to earth. Writing notebooks packed with tactical analysis helped me break down the strategic thoughts of men’s soccer head coach Ed Kelly.
Those articles showed me that I had broken the barrier that separates the common fan from the analyst.