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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

OPINION: Men’s Basketball just won’t back down
Abigail Taylor, Contributing writer • February 27, 2024

There’s No Place Like Home

A+photo+taken+in+a+much-loved+apartment+during+a+Friendsgiving+feast
A photo taken in a much-loved apartment during a Friendsgiving feast

An attempt to bid adieu and thank you

When I was in a panel scholarship interview at Wofford during the spring of my senior year of high school, I was asked what activities and organizations I thought I’d be interested in getting involved in at Wofford. I spouted off a few, WAC included—one I never got involved in but applaud those who did—to show I’d brushed up on Wofford lore. Included in this to-do list, I named the campus newspaper.

One of the faculty members on the panel humbled me when they asked in response, “Oh, are you familiar with the paper?” That was a fat no. I didn’t even know the name of it.

Four years later and I couldn’t be more familiar with “The Old Gold & Black”…or “The Old Black & Blue”. Four years later and the GPS on my phone won’t stop prompting me to return home any time I hop into my car. A banner pops up on my lock screen: “2 hours and 31 minutes to home.” My phone’s Siri and GPS systems have equated Wofford with home.

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Wofford did become home. Wofford became home, though, not because of something I did—it would be foolish to pretend I made my own way through the thick and thin of four years traversing Wofford’s campus. As is always the case with a communal experience, Wofford became home because of what other people did. 

Freshman year, I watched a senior named Abby Umberger, ‘17, serve as the president of her sorority, as well as captain of the equestrian team she’d co-founded just three years prior. She also student-taught in the spring in preparation for teaching English to high school students after graduation. Abby is energetic and spunky and unapologetically quirky. Abby taught me how to ask funny icebreaker questions and how to ask myself the hard questions. 

The following year brought Matt and Ivy Patrick to campus. Matt was hired as Wofford RUF’s new campus minister, and Ivy is his loyal partner in ministry and life. Although that was Matt’s “freshman year” at Wofford, I watched him gently invite and befriend students with the confidence of a fifth-year senior. He was never condescending, instead, always warm and inquisitive. I watched him minister beyond the walls of a room, and, as three classes have since graduated, I have watched him minister beyond the pocket of people tucked inside North Church Street and Pine. 

Junior year, I followed the men’s basketball team to Asheville, North Carolina, in mid-March. Wofford hired charter buses to transport students to watch our classmates play at the U.S. Cellular Center. Current students, alumni and families alike flocked to watch this unprecedented season for the Terriers. A week and a half later, I was offered a ticket to follow the team to Jacksonville, Florida. My friends and I made a last-minute decision and piled in my car on a Thursday afternoon, made it down to Jacksonville by 7:00 p.m., stopped by a hotel near the arena for a pre-game celebration, got to our seats before the 9:30 p.m. tipoff, then buckled up for the 6.5 hour return trip. We turned onto Evins Street at approximately 6:30 a.m. That Saturday, many fans made the trip again—some had never left Jacksonville—while others of us packed into senior village apartments and fraternity houses to watch the boys inch closer to a new title. We applauded them when they returned to campus as SoCon Champions.

As a senior, I watched people forget the social strata they had, more or less, let guide their social lives at Wofford. We adopted a new-for-us way of living in our own corner of campus, aptly named the Senior Village. We made dinner in our apartment kitchens—occasionally without setting off the fire alarm—and invited the neighbors we’d hardly spoken a word to in previous years to join us. We sat for hours on our porches waiting for the next person to stop and sit awhile. We congregated on the lawn for many an afternoon of grilling and village golf, or at the basketball, tennis or volleyball courts. We enjoyed each other’s company in a pure and satisfying sense.

It goes without saying that everyone’s year was cut short. I cling to the hope that this pandemic and its immediate aftermath will be cleared up enough for the class of 2024 to begin their time at Wofford as planned. I hope they’ll get to experience the adrenaline rush of move-in day and the lingering high of orientation week. I hope they’ll feel awkward and awestruck and happy and homesick, because I don’t think freshman year would be the same without that sticky mess of feelings.

An abrupt semester leaves many of these sticky, messy feelings, which have not entirely gone away since freshman year, to fester and form in newly manifested ways. I didn’t know I’d have to say goodbye to so many people via text or email or phone call. I didn’t know I’d be writing from home and trying to convey to you and so many others—more than will read this—what a pleasure it is to know you. I hope somehow, though, that you know that you made Wofford my home. 

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    Abby UmbergerMay 4, 2020 at 8:59 am

    Love this and love you! Your writing is uniquely you and I thoroughly enjoyed the read <3