Diversity

A Tribute To The Slain Spartan At White Rock Lake

A framed tribute to David Stevens from his co-workers at GE’s Plano office.
Photo credit: DallasMorningNews.com – A framed tribute to David Stevens from his co-workers at GE’s Plano office.

“Never had I imagined / Living without your smile / Feeling and knowing you hear me / It keeps me alive.” – Mariah Carey ft. Boyz II Men

I walk, run, or rollerblade with my yellow lab Izza around White Rock Lake every day. Dallas is not known as a particularly beautiful city, but the area around White Rock Lake is heavenly. I often think about my parents when I exercise around the lake. I wish they could accompany me on my daily walks with Izza. My father unexpectedly passed away last year after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. Some of those closest to me, including my mother, suffer from mental illness. She lives with her sister in Hawaii. Maybe I will move closer to her in the near future.

For now, White Rock Lake is where I discover my daily nirvana. This is why I was so haunted by your death earlier this month on the White Rock Creek Trail.

It’s one of those things where you can feel the weight of it without actually knowing the person. It can still affect you. I often wonder about all the lives I encounter on my daily lake tours. I wonder about the lives that have circled this lake before me and the ones who will be in awe of its beauty after me. I love meeting fellow Spartans who have relocated to the South. We all share a unique connection as transplants in North Texas. I continue to marvel at the spirit and camaraderie we all share as Spartan Alumni.

Every day I pass by hundreds of people around the lake. I wonder if we had ever crossed paths.

On Tuesday, my newspaper published an interview with your wife, Patti Stevens. This is the type of story that one is hesitant to read (especially in public) for fear they will be moved to tears, but something compelled me to click the link. It could have been any one of us attacked. But on this fateful day, a man who was once a Texas A&M football star, who currently suffers from mental illness, ambushed you.

Through the interview with your wife, I discovered you guys also attended Michigan State University, moved to Texas, frequented White Rock Lake often, and own a dog. Being MSU Alumni was an intimate part of your story as well. It is amazing all the similarities we all often tend to share with each other. Although you and your wife didn’t meet until graduation, y’all had quite the Spartan connection and shared the Spartan experience.

On Saturday, we celebrated the football victory against our rival University of Michigan with the MSU Dallas Alumni Club. I wonder if any of them had the chance to read your wife’s interview this week. I will make sure to share it with everybody I know.

Photo credit: The Dallas Morning News – David Stevens at Mount Rushmore, S.D. Stevens was killed while running on White Rock Creek Trail Oct. 12.

The more I read about you, the more I’m amazed by your superhuman feats. Your chivalry, old soul, and passion were second to none. Not to mention, you were one heck of a runner. I cannot believe you ran around the lake, nine to ten miles, three days a week. I envy the passion you lived with every day of your life. We should all be so lucky to be described as “an extremely rare individual” and “humble yet talented.” You were one of the few who had the tremendous drive “to be better and improve every day.”

Any university would be lucky to have you as an alumnus. From the sounds of it, you certainly made an impression while you were a student at MSU as well.

In her interview, your wife stated that she is trying to figure out how to go on. She hasn’t been sleeping or eating. She said she speaks slowly because her brain doesn’t feel like it works. Those types of feelings are all too familiar to me as well, but I can’t portend to know the pain she is going through right now. I hope she knows that your story has touched the lives all of us in North Texas, and of the Spartan family everywhere.

Rest In Peace David Stevens. I hope whenever your family hears “Go Green” and “Go White,” they know Spartans everywhere are keeping your family (and Golden Retriever) in their thoughts and prayers. Maybe we haven’t crossed paths before, but your life story has made a lasting impression.

Lynnlie Tuschoff, a Dallas Running Club member, leads the candlelight vigil for runner David Stevens, Monday, October 19, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. (Allison Slomowitz/ Special Contributor)
Photo credit: The Dallas Morning News – Lynnlie Tuschoff, a Dallas Running Club member, leads the candlelight vigil for runner David Stevens, Monday, October 19, 2015 in Dallas. (Allison Slomowitz/ Special Contributor)
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Diversity

An Ode To University of Michigan’s Punter (Renwei’s Post-Game Analysis)

Photo Credit: ESPN.COM
Photo Credit: ESPN.COM

Blake O’Neill. If Spartan fans didn’t know your name before today, they do now. You see, even though your first drive resulted in negative yards because of a false-start penalty, we began our second drive on our own two-yard line. How is this possible? Simple. You brought the thunder. In a game where every inch is fought for, you boomed the ball 80 yards.

Foolish me, I didn’t believe it was humanly possible to kick a ball 80 yards. I had never witnessed it before. Nobody this college football season had seen it either because nobody had done it this year. Until today. Your unbelievable 80-yard punt was the longest of the season. It was the second longest punt in the hallowed history of your school. And your school has a lot of football history. I’ve seen every position player at your school rip my heart out, I guess it was only time I would come to begrudge the punter.

The longest punt in your school’s history happened in 1986. It was 82 yards, only 2 yards farther than your Aussie-foot bomb. Monte Robbins was your punter. Jim Harbaugh was the quarterback. Harbaugh was also the captain. You beat us 27-6 that year.  That year, you also went to the Big Ten’s heavenly destination, the Rose Bowl. Harbaugh is now your coach and you are now the punter. In your only season, you have made quite the impression.

Photo Credit: ESPN.COM

I couldn’t believe it. We had you backed up to Kalamazoo. And then you boomed an 80-yard punt that was downed on our two-yard line. I realized the bar I was witnessing this game at must’ve been bad luck and decided that I would go somewhere else at halftime. I mean, even after we forced your team to punt, you guys were celebrating. Who celebrates punts? I do have to admit it though, that punt was amazing.

With only ten seconds in the game left, it was fitting the game would end with you. It was a rather routine play, but on this day it would be anything but. In the first quarter, it seemed like the wings on your helmet grabbed onto the football and wouldn’t let go. But alas, everything must fall back down to earth. It wasn’t raining today, but lightning certainly struck. Fans will blame you, I hear you’ve been getting death threats already. But rest assured, it wasn’t your fault. The Football Gods intervened. This play was out of your hands, just like the football.

Photo Credit: MSUSPARTANS.COM

In our football rivalry, you are the newest face on Mt. Rushmore: Braylon Edwards, TJ Duckett, Jalen Watts-Jackson, and now you – Blake O’Neill. Today’s ending eclipses University of Michigan’s 17-point comeback in 2004, TJ Duckett’s game-winning catch in 2001, and Hart’s “little brother” game in 2007. This 38-yard game-winning fumble return for a touchdown is most reminiscent of our 1990 rivalry game; which during the two-point conversion, the Football Gods forcibly ripped the ball from Desmond Howard’s grasp and MSU held onto a 28-27 victory. At the time you guys were ranked #1. For Desmond Howard, all might’ve seemed lost after this loss. But he won the Heisman in 1991 and ended up having one of the greatest collegiate careers ever. His ability to rebound matched his unequivocal football talents.

Photo Credit: MSUSPARTANS.COM

Blake O’Neill. If Spartan fans didn’t know your name before today, they do now. Save for this play, your career has been stellar. I’m sure you will rebound and have a remarkable season. But on this day, you are a legend to us Spartans in this bitter rivalry. Spartans everywhere will know your name for years to come. Just remember, the highs are higher because of the lows. Beauty only comes with the pain. Spartan fans already know these truths.

This ode is to you. This ode is to the greatest ten seconds of football ever. This ode is to 27-23, 28-27, and 27-6. This ode is to our rivalry. Spartans will always remember Howard’s incomplete catch, Duckett’s 0:00 reception, “Little Giants,” “Mouse Trap,” Stanford’s 4th and 1 in the Rose Bowl, and the 20-point fourth-quarter comeback in the Cotton Bowl. Spartans will always remember you. Who celebrates punts? We do.

Photo Credit: MSUSPARTANS.COM