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Tuesday, August 09, 2022

I think there is one moment in every journalist's career when he or she has an epiphany. It's the exact moment that tells the person, this is why you chose to become a reporter.

For me, that moment happened in Atlanta at the 2007 Final Four.

After the buzzer sounded in the Georgia Dome and the Gators clinched their second title, chaos ensued on the court. As I stood on the sideline with my notepad and tape recorder and brushed off the orange, blue, yellow and white streamers that fell from the ceiling, Corey Brewer jumped on top of the scorer's table.

Al Horford and Taurean Green danced at center court.

Chris Richard hoisted Walter Hodge into the air, but I focused on none of that.

Instead, my eyes became transfixed on Joakim Noah as he ran into the stands and frantically climbed the steps searching for his mother.

He almost ran by her, but when she reached out for him, he gripped onto her so tight that she actually shook. As I watched him bury his head into her right shoulder, I saw everything he felt. The past several months culminated in that embrace. All the sweat, the sprints and the judgment were worth it because now he was a champion, again.

Years from now, I can't say I will remember how many miles I put on my Nissan Sentra while driving around the Southeastern Conference. I don't know if I will be able to tell you how many 3-pointers Lee Humphrey swished or at what minute Chris Richard fouled out of the title game.

But I will always remember that moment because it's those moments that make my job have meaning. And if it wasn't for the people I'm about to mention, I wouldn't have had this job at all.

So I extend my heartfelt thanks to…

•Andy Staples, for being the best teacher I could have asked for.

•Andrew Abramson, for hiring me, and Louis Anastasis, for fostering my writing. Without the two of you, I wouldn't be where I am today.

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•Lindsay Jones, for being my road roommate and introducing me to AWSM. I know my life would have been drastically different if you never came to Gainesville.

•Dave Curtis, for standing beside me as we became honorary members of the San Diego Toreros student section. You just might be the best person I have ever met.

•The Alligator crew. There are too many of you to name, but whether old or new, a part of each of you will stay with me forever.

•My mom, for always answering the phone when I needed to talk.

•Megan and Sara Curl, for being my second family. When I wasn't busy and overworked, you gave me some semblance of a normal life. Here's to our countless days at the ballpark, homemade brownie sundaes and seeking out Dawson's Creek/One Tree Hill sites in Wilmington. I love you girls.

•Regal Gainesville 14 at Butler Plaza, for putting up with my crazy schedule, and the amazing people I met while working there. You impacted my life probably more than you realize.

•Heather Waters, for her tremendous note-taking ability and making sure I passed all my classes. You've been a great friend, and I'm so glad we met freshman year.

•Paul Leonard, for always looking out for me and knowing the significance of "you are home."

•The '04s and the rest of the 2006-07 Gators, for giving me the most unbelievable experience of my life.

•And finally, my dad. It's hard for me to convey how important you are to me, so I'm going to steal the words Rory used to thank Lorelai - with a few minor adjustments - during her valedictorian speech: I don't know if you ever realized that the person I most wanted to be is you. Thank you Dad, you are my guidepost for everything.

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