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    Ann Arbor Native Couldn't Be Happier In East Central Illinois
    Mike Kosta

    Mike Kosta

    Sept. 12, 2001

    "Allow myself to introduce... myself"
    -Austin Powers

    Caution: An inexperienced author, with more to say than is allowed by the confines of higher education has been given a large audience and few boundaries in which to work.


    I couldn't have mapped it out any better than this. Whether one person or a million people are reading my journal entries every second week this semester, I envision an audience the size of this galaxy.

    Each carefully chosen word highlighting my already dramatic expressions as ideas and emotions filter in and out of my brain. I want passion. I want excitement. I want the kind of readers who call me, email me, complain, praise, laugh, cry, revolt, and unite. This isn't the New York Times, it's a college sports web site. You know, the sports where the athletes aren't making a million dollars. The sports where not only do athletes practice hard, if not harder than the pros, but also have to do homework at night and, of course, attend classes in the day. The sports where you'll find no one coasting. You'll never see a college athlete kick a TV camera man, skip a practice, or date Madonna. All you'll see a college athlete do is cry when his or her team loses, walk back to the team bus and start preparing for an Econ final the next morning. That's life, that's college sports, that's fightingillini.com.

    Please don't waste your time simply glancing over these articles. Read them as you would read the last line of your favorite book. I will deliver. I'm not going to waste your time by writing something that you won't want to read. I've already done that for the past three years-they're called term papers and they'll put you right to sleep. Call me if you want term papers, I'm in the book. Ask for Mike. And then change your browser from fightingillini.com to needtogetalife.org. It's a new site, but I think you'll like it.

    So here's the deal, I'll write something good. And in return all I ask for is your true Illini spirit while reading. I plan on communicating the many aspects that involve being a Fighting Illini fan and athlete. Whether you're from Chicago, or California, for whatever reason you are here reading this. We already share one thing in common, Illinois athletics.

    And now the formal introduction:

    My name is Michael Kosta. I'm tall, dark and handsome. (Just kidding... I wouldn't say that I'm necessarily dark). I was born and raised in the great city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and spent 18 happy years there. I have played tennis successfully since I was around nine years old. My Mom might argue that I'm cocky, but how well does a Mom really know her own child? I had my choice of schools to attend (yes, Michigan included) and opted for the (at the time) two-time defending Big Ten champions, the University of Illinois. Since then I've played on three more conference championship teams.

    We are led by two of the best tennis coaches in the nation, Craig Tiley and Bruce Berque. Without them, our team would be a bunch of talented players running around like chickens with their heads cut off. They have taught us how to work hard, how to succeed, as well as the important life lessons that athletics can teach. The two things that I will miss most about my collegiate athletic experience next year, after I graduate, are these coaches. If you are interested in learning more about them, check out their photos under our roster. They're both pretty good looking and single. If anyone could find them a wife, they might lay off us a little (plus Craig's got a cool South African accent- which is an added bonus). The whole team would love you for it.

    So for three years now I've bled Orange and Blue. I would have never thought that I would end up here in East Central Illinois. When I was in high school, all I knew was that I wanted to go to a university with a beach nearby. Go figure. In fact, my senior year, when I received a letter from U of I, I didn't even consider the school among my top 10 choices. Mainly because I was looking for warm climate. (If you are a potential recruit reading this, please disregard this last comment. I couldn't have asked for a better climate here, and our beaches are fantastic.) However, one by one, as I would talk to the other tennis coaches and mingle with other teams, it became so obvious that Illinois was exactly where I wanted to be.

    One thing that is unique about our tennis program is that we are an extremely close group of guys. We all live together, take many of the same classes, socialize at night, travel in the summer together, you name it. We're like a typical group of gypsies, except we have apartments instead of tents or caravans. We are a giant family, and it has been unbelievable. I feel like I know more about my teammates than I do about myself. For example: Graydon Oliver's dog is named Bridget, and it's a poodle that drinks filtered water. Phil Stolt speaks perfect German and actually went to an all German speaking elementary and middle school. Michael Calkins' brother, Mark, plays baseball for Indiana (centerfield). Alex Muresan's father was a Romanian soccer star before he emigrated to the U.S. (Unfortunately, Alex has not taken after his father, at least when it comes to soccer skills.) I could go on and on.

    Other teams just aren't as close as we are. And that's one of our biggest strengths, because when you step on the court to compete, you've got 11 other guys who all have your back. People have a hard time understanding that concept, because they think of tennis as such an individual sport. But I guarantee after watching one of our dual matches, you'll leave the tennis center knowing you've left a true team sporting event just like football, volleyball or even basketball. (Actually ours have another bonus: free admission, great food and you can get as up close and personal to the action as you like. Plus where else can you see a bunch of hunky athletes wearing tight white tennis shorts?)

    So from the rolling hills of Ann Arbor, I elected to join the Fighting Illini. And I couldn't be happier. College is an amazing time and an amazing experience, and I sincerely hope that I can capitalize on my opportunity to share many of these moments with you the reader. I was coached to have fun with this, and I'll try my hardest. So far I'd say that it's a piece of cake, but then again no one's read this yet.

    Fightingillini.com here I come!! Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride, because I know that I will. And I'm out.

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