Four years at UDM brought more than expected

This is the end of the road.

And I can honestly say that I’ve done everything I ever wanted to and even more in my nearly four full years as an undergraduate student at UDM.

I became the host of my own sports talkshow, rose to sports editor of the campus newspaper, earned two great internships, unexpectedly went on a spring break trip to the Bahamas and as a senior traveled to New York City for a journalism conference.

While all of this occurred, I got the chance to be a “social butterfly” and to meet new people whom I now call friends.

But that doesn’t even come close to summing up my college experiences, as I also developed an even stronger bond with my lifelong friend and college roommate Nick Smigiel.

He’s the one who’s been with me through my pains and struggles of living on my own, first in the dorms as a freshman and sophomore then in a house in Berkley with two other roommates as a junior and senior.

And, boy, has he put up with a lot.

Plenty of burnt bacon in a toaster (of all things) and lots of other improperly uncooked food, such as waffles, as well as broken screens and front doors and too many toilet clogs to count on one hand, unfortunately.     

He’s been the one “wearing the pants” in the relationship for a long time, and I owe him much more than rent money for what he’s done in his role as “kingpin” of the house.

Hell, my roommates call him dad, although they have much respect for their biological fathers.

I’m not willing to go that far with my level of praise. But we’ve had a bond since the third grade at St. Thecla Catholic School, which has effectively made us brothers without having the same mother and different fathers – a la a “Maury” episode.

I am so blessed to have him in my life as a second brother, along with the brother my mom actually gave birth to, UDM freshman Dominic Chirco.

Dom, a shier, average-sized member of the Chirco clan and a self-proclaimed baseball expert, might be blushing right now reading this.

However, I refuse to feel bad about embarrassing him.

I want everyone to know what I feel about him. I would shout my love for the little guy – actually taller than me –  from the mountains if I had the chance.

He’s a stubborn guy who’s often extremely to himself, although he’s opinionated, especially when it comes to his favorite MLB club, the Chicago White Sox. Every season he insists they’re going to be the best team in the American League Central – at least until the end of April, when the South Siders are usually seven or eight games out.

And in this manner, he’s rebelled against the status quo of the Chirco household, which is built upon Tigers fandom and too much sports talk for my mom to stomach at times.

It’s caused much ire for my Dad, who raised Dom and me as baseball fans and as Tigers fans first and foremost.

However, it’s also provided my Dad and me with a nice change of pace that has the capability of sparking lively banter and debate among the Chirco men at any given minute. 

Anyone who has ever entered the Chirco house and has had the privilege of listening in on a back-and-forth about baseball sure knows that is true.

Despite the yelling and screaming that it sometimes creates and which frequently becomes unbearable for my mom, it’s one reason why I love my brother.

It’s what makes him stand out from the rest of the pack, which is not a bad thing.

Being unique, like Dom, whether it be via an athletic interest, a musically geared one or something else that strays completely from the path, is what all human beings should try to be.  

Chirco is VN sports editor