I was only a few weeks at college when I decided it would be worthwhile to meet the person who would have the biggest influence on my professional career – Dr. Bob Cole. Unfortunately, on the day I chose, I was not the only one to stop by his office in Holman Hall. There was a lengthy wait, approximately 90 minutes. I asked one of the students there if this was really worth it. She assured me that I wouldn’t ask that question after I got done.
It was late before Dr. Cole got to me, and I’m sure his office hours were long done. But when I walked in, and looked at the bookshelves and the newspapers sprawled all over the desk, I was greeted by someone more than willing to take all the time needed to make a nervous freshman feel like he was in the right place. And when he found out I wanted to pursue sports writing, he almost fell out of his chair.
During my senior year, Dr. Cole taught a Sports Writing seminar on his own time for a half dozen interested students. While covering a College basketball game, Dr. Cole’s finely-tuned method of keeping score required making multiple notations for every possession. I told him that we might not be able to keep up, given the nature of today’s fast-paced game. At the first timeout, Dr. Cole came up to my seat.
“Well, Mark,” he said, “maybe it’s time that they go back to the days when they used to have a jump ball after every basket.”
I have maintained contact with Dr. Cole, now keeping in touch via our “video display terminals” (Cole-ese for a computer). The chat sessions bring back memories of that first meeting in his office. When we’re finished, and I turn off my computer, the one thing that always comes into my mind is “Boy, that was really worth it.”