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From college to the pros: A big, fat slice of reality pie

From college to the pros: A big, fat slice of reality pie
by Reed Saunders


The words stuck on my brain Monday like the morning moisture clinging to my windshield.

“Welcome to your life, there’s no turning back…”

On any other day, just lyrics to a familiar Tears for Fears tune. But they took on new meaning as they echoed through my Jeep on the morning of this, my first day of work and my first step down the yellow-brick road of my “professional” career.
This is it. School’s not just out for summer; it’s out for good -- fading like hip blue jeans.

As I drove down a rain-drenched Speer Boulevard in Denver headed for the National Pro Fastpitch offices, the “new” Reed became more aware of himself. My shirt was pressed, my jeans were slacks. I actually had something resembling a brief case with me.

Couldn’t help but wonder: “How the heck this happen?” How did a sleeping-in, miss-a-class-or-two college student become an adult in under a week? It was, afterall, just one week ago that I was just another college kid, getting ready for his exams the only way he knew how – a late afternoon beer and a healthy dose of the Doobie Brothers.

Only five days ago, I was up all night studying for back-to-back finals Thursday Morning – in Folk Religion and Western Political Theory, no less.
Thursday night saw a slow-pitch softball victory and a celebratory karaoke version of “Drift Away.”

Come the weekend, I was enjoying the splendors of the Fort Collins nightlife with my fellow CSU graduates, rejoicing with beverages and laughter until the wee small hours of the morning had become the long crawling hours of the early a.m. The game of college was coming to an end. Why not push it into overtime?

Insomniac music videos and late night burritos gave way to laundry bags and packing peanuts as I moved out of my college home Sunday afternoon.

Before the move was complete, my roommate and I toasted a last drink, shared a sit on the porch, a glance back at four good, blurry years. Like sands through the hourglass, I was on the road, back home to Golden to a life I’d never known – the life of a real job.

Not five minutes had I been on the road for home when the real world – and the bumper of the car behind me – let me know I was definitely not in Kansas anymore.

As the last member of a three-way rear-ending chain reaction, I definitely got the least of the damage. But the jolt caused by the black Ford truck slamming into the maroon Grand Cherokee which smashed the bumper of my Jeep was very real. Like an alarm clock’s buzzer cutting through the silence of 6 a.m., getting rear-ended made for a quick end to my graduation honeymoon.

So here I sit, typing away in my pressed shirt and my uncomfortable slacks, my first day on the job already feeling a little like “Office Space,” as I can’t seem to figure out where to find a working stapler. If I don’t find one, I’m going to burn down the building.

I’m working for a league that won’t start playing until 2004. A fastpitch all-star team will be touring the country this summer and they wanted a young, hip personality to spearhead some PR efforts. When that person never showed, I got the gig.

My dad had shown me the way from the get-go. I did, along with my younger brother, inherit his voice – a deep, resounding voice made for radio – and personality.

After a busy high school athletic career where I became D’Evelyn High School’s first four-sport letterman, I went to CSU with aspirations of using that voice and personality I inherited to help make it in sports media.

At my paper, I covered a wide array of sports. Football, basketball, volleyball, even softball. If any big story was breaking, I was the man to cover it. Though I was also known as the “funny” columnist for the paper, I preferred to be remembered as the people’s columnist. I tried offering entertaining and informative twists on the latest sports news, so you didn’t have to be Joe Sportsfan to catch my drift.

Another great experience was getting the chance to do in-game announcing for volleyball, softball and basketball at CSU – being involved in the game in such close capacity is an excitement you’ll never know until you step up to the microphone yourself.

I’ll be with you here all summer as the NPF train rolls forward. Hopefully we can generate some buzz, get people talking.

It’s out of the college life and into the great wide open – a summer filled with high-rising fastballs, sharp line drives and inevitably a few mistakes by a wet-nosed, public relations rookie awaits.

Yeah, there are no more college days to look forward to anymore. No more late mornings to waste, no more classes to zone out in.

But there’s the future. And there’s this league -- a league that’s more like a dream for so many young women around the nation and the world. A league that will see many women taking their first leap into the professional world, just like me. The league – and this job – is what I have now and what will be my main focus for the next three months (and maybe more) of my life.

As they say in that old Tears for Fears tune, everybody might want to rule the world. I’m just trying to make the most of freedom and of pleasure.

And even if I can’t find a functional stapler or really have no success with my inaugural column here, I’ll still pop a grin knowing that song’s running through your head right now.

I’ll see you further down this road, rain or shine.

Reed Saunders is a 2003 graduate of Colorado State University. He’ll be working public relations on the 2003 NPF All-Star tour this summer. Follow along with his travels with his weekly column on profastpitch.com.


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