Widgets Magazine

Lakshman: On gratitude and a year of sports memories

It was the kind of college basketball environment you dream about. Stanford and UConn slugging it out in heart-pulling possession after possession as the spirits of Maples Pavilion came to life to sprinkle some magic for the occasion.

Amber Orrange hits a three with 1.4 seconds on the clock to send the game to overtime then seals the deal with the go-ahead jumper with just over a minute to play in extra time. The Cardinal won, slaying the beast coming in with a 47-game win streak, as the rabid student section threw any semblance of caution to the wind and stormed the court.

And I made sure to take it all in–on my laptop in my dorm room, 500 yards away from Maples.

That night, I decided to skip the game and do homework, which I promptly chucked to the side once I checked the score of the game at the beginning of the second half. I use the word ‘irony’ far too often in everyday conversation, but this might be one of the few times where it actually fits the bill.

This episode has been a recurring story for me throughout the school year. Academically, I’ve been hit hard by stress and self-doubt to the point where I lost a lot of the excitement and motivation I had for attending sporting events.

And yet, if I close my eyes and reflect back on this year, the immediate memories lie far from papers, or classes or group projects. Instead, they live in places like Stanford Stadium, Avery Aquatic Center and Sunken Diamond.

While I resisted going to a number of athletics events on campus, I am extremely grateful to my friends–in the Daily sports section and beyond–who pushed me through the malaise for some truly transcendent moments. I can still instantly flashback to watching goalie Jane Campbell knock home a penalty kick for women’s soccer in the playoffs or Kiley Neushul doing the equivalent to win a national championship for women’s water polo. And then there were the other special memories, like the adventure of roadtripping up to Autzen Stadium in November (I heard they played a football game, too, but I forget the details…). In any case, the common denominator for me has been sharing unbelievable moments with friends and superhuman athletes who, in some cases, live just down the hall from me. In a year of ups and downs, it’s the sports memories that persist and remind me just how lucky we are for the experience.

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I remember towards the end of my freshman year coming across a column by former Daily staffer Miles Unterreiner listing the top 10 pieces of advice he wished he had known (or known earlier) as a student. While I consider all of the suggestions excellent, the ones that really stand out to me are No. 1 and No. 6: go to more campus events and attend as many athletics events as possible.

I could not agree more and this year just further entrenched the importance of that advice in my mind. Being a college student–especially at a school with the resources like Stanford–is sitting on a winning lottery ticket. I do regret not taking greater advantage of listening to the world’s top minds and watching some of the world’s best athletes when it is completely free and literally minutes from where I sleep, especially because — right alongside the friendships I’ve formed over the past three years — it’s what I remember the most and will take away from this year.

Thank you, Stanford Athletics, for a great year and for reminding me just how grateful I should be, especially when I’m too stupid to take a step back and realize it for myself. There are a lot of reasons to love sports and I often vacillate between the possibilities. For now, though, I’ll contend that sports are about the memories and about community–that’s what I will carry forward from this year.

At times, I feel like I’ve squandered the invaluable opportunities available this year, but, as my mom often reminds me: “everything is still in front of you,” and I’ve fortunately got another year to make more memories.

We’re exactly 100 days away from the start of Stanford football season. All Right Now!

If the student attendance numbers at Maples Pavilion this year have taught us anything, it’s that Vihan Lakshman isn’t the only Stanford student who has chosen schoolwork over athletic events. If you’ve ever stayed in and passed up an opportunity to watch an incredible sports moment in person, let Lakshman know at vihan ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Vihan Lakshman

Vihan Lakshman's journey at The Stanford Daily came full-circle as he began his career as a football beat writer and now closes his time on The Farm in the same role. In between, he has served as an Opinions columnist and desk editor, a beat writer for Stanford baseball, and as a member of The Daily's Editorial Board. Vihan completed his undergraduate degree in Mathematical and Computational Science in 2016, and is currently pursuing a master's in Computational Mathematics. He also worked as a color commentator on KZSU football broadcasts during the 2015 season. To contact him, please send an email to vihan 'at' stanford.edu