Opinion | Thanking the Panthers

Luca Evans
Sports Editor
@lucae123

There’s so much that can be done to commemorate Chapman sports in this week’s “Best of Chapman” special issue.

Thus, I’d like to take the time to acknowledge exemplary programs such as men’s baseball, the reigning National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III champions; women’s soccer; women’s volleyball; men’s and women’s basketball, who have both found plenty of early success this winter athletic season and so many more.

Regretfully, there’s just not enough room in this section to give the widespread coverage each of these teams deserve – for further investigation, we encourage you to browse Chapman Athletics or The Panther’s archives. Ultimately, however, the one large story that’s been brewing so fervently within the cauldron of our campus was impossible to ignore. The football team’s success this past fall season, quite simply, reminded me why I’m proud to be attending Chapman. As a huge sports fan, I’m biased, so don’t just take this from me. Take this from fellow students. Take this from your professors. Take this from administrative faculty. After a Nov. 30 loss that sadly brought the football team’s year to an end, this section is meant to celebrate a jolly group of individuals who have worked their tails off to bring pride to themselves, their families and this campus as a whole.

Football’s last four games were an extremely hard test for me as a journalist; in particular, their Nov. 23 playoff game against Linfield College was the most incredible sports game I’ve ever seen, professional or otherwise. I had to maintain a face of objectivity, despite the student in me who just wanted to throw my hands up after every touchdown.

And despite trying my hardest, I couldn’t help grinning after watching running back Tanner Mendoza burst through the line of scrimmage for a touchdown, linebacker Dillon Keefe bull-rush past an offensive lineman and sack an opposing team’s quarterback, or head coach Bob Owens deliver impassioned postgame speeches in Chapman’s huddle. I surely couldn’t help my involuntary series of hops from the sideline as I watched the Panthers clinch the victory over Linfield. Any attempts to hide my excitement ended in utter defeat. I regret nothing. So thank you, Panthers.

Thank you for giving me an experience I won’t forget, as the guy milling about the sidelines hastily scribbling barely-legible words in a notebook. Thank you for giving a slowly increasing number of people on this campus a memorable place to spend their Saturdays outside of routine college parties. And finally, thank you for helping us find something to look forward to during the stressful weeks leading up to midterms, holidays and ultimately, finals. This one’s for you.