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Put Real Meaning Into Your Life

HAMPDEN-SYDNEY – CBS Sports basketball and golf play-by-play announcer Verne Lundquist delivered his very first commencement address Sunday morning at Hampden-Sydney College.

He nailed the three and sank the birdie.

The response on campus was a far cry from his first visit to H-SC 32 years ago to broadcast the NCAA play-off football game against Salisbury State. In 1980 he encountered a bed sheet-sized sign hanging from Gammon Gym, in full view of all:

“Where the hell is Howard Cosell? Who the hell is Verne Lundquist?”

Lundquist is now in the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame and no questioning bed sheets were hung from venerable Venable Hall on Mother's Day.

Lundquist, who graduated from college 50 years ago, almost to the day, told graduates to pursue a career in something that brings them joy.

But, like a football official, he cautioned, “Here's the yellow flag, however. Here's the caution sign. Don't let what you do define who you are.”

Don't allow, he counseled, the pursuit of a paycheck, the quest for a promotion, a bigger house, or a faster car dictate how you live.

Don't allow such things to be the essence of your life, he advised.

“Put real meaning in your life. Round yourself out. Pursue your happiness. Live with passion,” he said. “The old tale is true: no man ever said on his deathbed, 'Gosh, I wish I'd spent more time at the office.'”

Graduates were exhorted by Lundquist to be curious, to explore, investigate, and travel.

“There's some really wonderful stuff out there, ” he said, “some really wonderful people and cultures.”

Be resilient, too, he told them; persevere.

“Here's the inescapable truth: whether in your personal or professional life, you're going to get slapped around. There's going to be some heartache, some sadness, some pain,” he said.

Don't let it determine your fate.

“Live in the community. Introspection has its place,” he told the liberal arts grads, “but the view looking out at others can be wonderfully satisfying. Share your life: with your spouse, your family, your neighborhood, your city, your country. Live a life of good works. Be there for people.”

Just as Kirk Rohle was there for Ben Rogers in the darkness of January 24th when a fire consumed the Tiger Athletic Clubhouse. After everyone who lived there had apparently escaped to safety, Lundquist recalled, it was realized that one student, Ben Rogers, was still inside the burning house.

“Kirk Rohle, his best friend, dashed back through the roaring flames to save his Tiger teammate,” Lundquist said, providing play-by-play that had nothing to do with a game and everything to do with life or death.

“Both men suffered burns, Kirk's by far the more serious. It was an act of incredible courage, love, and brotherhood,” Lundquist related, “almost Biblical in its application. It's a story that will be told at Hampden-Sydney for the next 100 years. We're thrilled that both men are with us this morning.”

No buzzer-beater comes close.

Sudden death overtime is nothing of the sort.