Arguably the most unpleasant and least empathetically understood periods in the life of people in government positions are known as the “lame duck” session. This is the time after a person’s replacement has been hired but before the new official takes office. Not much longer than a couple months compose this period. Of course, most politicians are lame ducks in that they aren’t very exciting and are odd people to have chosen such a path for their lives. But, the technical lameness of these ducks refers to their inability to cause any change in their remaining time, rendering them rather powerless. While this experience seems distantly tucked away in state and national capitals, as we go through life, similar lame duck phases come and go with the tidal advances and regressions through which many people in our society undoubtedly go.
The last few months of my final spring semester at JCU are assailing with innumerable new scenarios which I had never before considered would be issues in the closing months of college. In a couple weeks, The Carroll News staff will vote a new editor in chief into his or her position. Coinciding with this change will be the appointment of a managing editor and new section editors taking charge of each part of the newspaper in the footsteps of the graduating seniors.
Having held the position of assistant and editor of the Op/Ed and Editorial sections longer than anyone of the past six years (to my knowledge), it’s unsettling to ponder the time when I will no longer oversee every word put on pages 17, 18 and 19 of the paper; a time when I won’t have to press my mind for ideas every week on what topic to write 600 to 800 words of a column that will most likely be read by very few. In four weeks and two columns, the moustached columnist picture will lose its personal context and be stowed away in the archive bins and file cabinets of the other issues of the past 88 years.
A situation more immediate and persistent, repeatedly kicking me in the face with its energy legs at least once a week for the past several months is the lame duck circumstance of my collegiate running career. The freshman distance squad we brought in at the beginning of the year came into college with faster times in some distances than I had achieved in my three more years of experience. At the Indoor OAC Championships this past weekend, our team’s second-place finish was enabled by many points scored by freshmen and sophomores on the team, while I earned zero.
Aside from quantitatively based achievements, there is no “next year” to which my current training will contribute a strength base. Surely, I can continue to race my entire life. But, nothing will ever be like being on a collegiate team and aspiring to qualify for the national championship or, as I call it, “the great dance.” There are two months left of collegiate racing, and, like congressional or presidential counterparts, there doesn’t seem to be much time to fully harness the benefits from the training I do from now on. Each day, I see sprightly springiness in their legs, untarnished by years of perhaps too much unilateral mileage and too little quick-twitch quality.
Neither of these situations bring about fear for the future of either organization. The Op/Ed and Editorial sections will most likely be left in the quick-learning and creatively capable hands of Grace Kaucic (who I see grow more adept with each issue) and the established skills of Clara Richter, upon her return from Ireland. The cross country and track programs now have runners whose talents exceed those of the current seniors two-fold. There are a handful of young-guns, like junior Chuck Mulé, sophomores Johnny Honkala, Tadgh Karski and John Cameron and freshmen Pat O’Brien and Matt Chojnacki, who have many times the focus and drive I have and are more capable of redeeming my vacant captainship at the end of this season than I was when first acquiring it.
Assuredly, such experiences are likely to reoccur later in life when on the job I train a young kid, fresh out of college for the job I might have held for years. Technology will most likely advance without minding the people it’s leaving in its wake, struggling to keep up in their older years.
What is one supposed to think of being replaced, of the world moving on without them? Of this, I am not certain. One begins to question the purpose of their life and things toward which he or she has striven. Perhaps the only comfort to be gained from being superseded is the role one has had in advancing the situation that person leaves behind. The Op/Ed and Editorial sections have gotten more precise and tenacious in its commentary than in years past. The JCU cross country and track and field teams have grown from a bunch of goons in gold to a formidable force in the conference, region and nation.
Though I feel my relevance in the JCU community is being rapidly phased out, I feel that I leave it at a better point than it was when I came in and in better hands than my own.