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Between the Lines: Bye, Athens

I never liked telling people that I went to Ohio University. 

It wasn’t that I was embarrassed about it or anything. It’s just that I knew the inevitable follow-up question:

“Wait, don’t you mean Ohio State?”

No. No, I don’t. 

I’m from Virginia, meaning my trips back home usually consist of at least one person thinking I attend OSU, or at least making a joke about it. I admit thinking about it was petty, but it was infuriating nonetheless.

When I set out for a school none of my friends could find on a map four years ago, I had no idea what to expect. I knew I wanted to do something in sports. That was the extent of it.

Writing, broadcasting, public relations — all of them sounded equally enticing because all of them were equally new to me. Sports was the only answer I had for people. But, as my friends assured me, I would be fine because of the many opportunities that Ohio State’s athletics program presented.

Over the last few years, though, I’ve completely lived out the college cliche: I’ve had the best time of my life.

I’ve made friends that would make the best of us blush at simply being associated with. I became the sports editor of this publication. With The Post, I’ve covered football and men’s basketball games at Tennessee, Purdue and in Ford Field and Quicken Loans Arena. If you’d told me that four years ago, I would have politely thanked you for the kind words, then walked away with a head shake and an “I don’t believe you” smile.

The most vivid memories of The Post, however, come when I talk about the people behind those beats. The co-beat writers that I had were always excellent and were probably nicer to me than they should have been. Almost every player I ever talked to was gracious with their time, even when they didn’t have to be.

I saw players cry, I saw them win, I saw them lose and I saw them start and end careers. I just hope that I told their stories as best as I could.

This wouldn’t be complete, though, without thanking Spencer Holbrook, who had the thankless job of assistant sports editor this year. Or former sports editors Chad Lindskog, Luke O’Roark and Charlie Hatch, who taught me how to carry myself as an editor. I could go on, but it would be a list of names and memories far too long to list.

Wait, and thanks to everyone who let me stand in their front yard during a fest. I appreciate it.

As for the future, I head into the next however many years of my life unsure of what’s next. I guess that’s the fun part.

But now, wherever I end up, I’m going to tell people about Ohio University. They might think I went to Ohio State, but part of me wishes for that to be the case. The memories of Court Street, The Post and my friends’ apartment at 310 Palmer Place will come flooding back.

To those who have never had the good fortune of spending time in Athens, there’s no explanation that will suffice. You just have to take our word for it — there’s not a place like this anywhere else.

I’ve visited a lot of schools in the last few years, and while they all had their own things that made them unique, I kept coming back to the fact that OU was just different. Every time I went elsewhere, I couldn’t wait to come back to Athens. To me, that’s the coolest thing in the world.

Someone though, eventually, will ask the question whether I went to Ohio State. But I feel like I’ll have an answer now.

“No, it’s Ohio University,” I’ll say with a smile. “And let me tell you about my favorite place in the world.”

Come to think of it, the question can’t be that bad at all.

Andrew Gillis is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your memories of Athens? Let Andrew know by tweeting him @Andrew_Gillis70.

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