4:59. My heart raced. Butterflies shot up my stomach. My parents peered over my shoulder telling me to open my Stanford application. The clock turned. 5:00. It was time.
“Dear Charlie,” it read, “we regret to inform you that we can not offer you admission...”
I couldn’t finish the entire letter before I started crying. In just a matter of seconds, my dream to attend my father’s alma mater had been crushed. I quickly rushed up to my room and sat in silence, feeling like a failure and thinking all hope was lost.
I’ll be honest, Stanford was a reach. In fact, with my GPA, it would’ve taken a miracle. Still, I applied and got my hopes up, figuring that maybe my admission reader would be a big Rule of Tree fan and accept me.
I went out with friends later that night, and one after the other asked: “Did you get in?”
“No,” I continuously responded, realizing my mistake to see them.
Around my school, I was known as the “Stanford kid,” but suddenly, I felt like the “Stanford reject.” My endless Stanford apparel quickly found itself in the back of my closet, only appearing on rare occasions when I ran out of clothes, and I shifted my attitude toward Stanford athletics.
I wasn’t surprised when Bryce Love finished second in the Heisman race. Baker Mayfield was clearly the better player.
I didn’t bother watching the Alamo Bowl. College applications were due the next day.
I didn’t follow Stanford basketball. My hometown LA Lakers were finally interesting again.
Months passed, and the college admission process raged on. Other schools caught my eye, and soon, my broken heart began to mend. In particular, Notre Dame felt magical, Vanderbilt appeared extraordinary, and Washington and Lee seemed unforgettable.
Ultimately, I would wind up becoming a Washington and Lee General.
Looking back now, I realize I fell in love with Stanford for all the wrong reasons. I wanted to go so I could continue being a Stanford fan. I wanted to go so I could watch Bryce Love terrorize opposing defenses. I wanted to go so I could see Davis Mills develop into the next Andrew Luck.
Meanwhile, Washington and Lee is a better fit for me. It offers me the chance to play college golf, to learn in a more intimate classroom setting, and to explore a totally new environment. The only downside at Washington and Lee will be the lack of a big time sports program. However, I’ll still have Stanford.
I’m pretty sure my small, rural school in Lexington, Virginia will never face the Cardinal in any sport, ever. Yes, I was disappointed about my admission decision from Stanford, but six months later, I realize that the rejection shouldn’t stop me from rooting for the Cardinal and writing for Rule of Tree. Simply put, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Stanford.
The improbable victory over USC in 2007 taught me to believe in the impossible. The time spent crafting my articles introduced me to my passion for sports journalism. The image of Conrad Ukropina drilling a game winning field versus the Irish revealed to me to never give up hope. But above all, the long drives to the Farm created bonds with family, with friends, and with Stanford football that’ll never be broken. I’ll forever be a Cardinal.