YPSILANTI — Your old Uncle Mel is almost ready to set sail south, down the mighty Huron River, far away from his home to a brand new home in the sun and by the bay but still your old uncle, will be missing the friends that he has made in the city that Uncle Mel has called home for 45 years.
Now nieces and nephews your old Uncle Mel is miserable on one hand and energized on the other hand.
Leaving the comfort of Eastern Michigan University, a place that has given your old Uncle Mel, a cherished education but also some people that will always be loved and respected as friends and all of them will always be remembered for their generosity given to an old man just trying to do something that he just loves to do.
First of all, Uncle Mel would like to say thank you to Carol Schlagheck, she is a dedicated professor and who is more than just an instructor and a mentor. She is a person, with the unique gift of showing and teaching so many inspiring journalist, especially one middle-age student. Perhaps he also possess a gift and that if he is willing to work hard at it, he to would be able to take that gift and make him an artist of storytelling.
Next, Uncle Mel would like to say thank you to the coaches and to the many athletes that wore the green and white uniform they have provide plenty of stories to tell and to write about, the memories will never be forgotten.
Thank you to former Eastern Michigan University baseball coach Roger Coryell because he showed respect for the effort and for the dedication of an old man. Thank you to the former football coach, Rick Rasnick, it is true, that he did not win very many games but he made the first football season for Uncle Mel, exciting to cover and your old uncle can not forget the former basketball coach Milton Barns.
Barns and that basketball squad which included, Earl Boykin and Derrick Dial along with the most hated place in the Mid-American Conference for basketball, the very hot, dusty and very noisy Bowen Field house that provided the place and the privilege for Barns to coach-it was the best that Uncle Mel witnessed.
Uncle Mel would also give a hearty thank you and would give a great big hug to former woman’s basketball coach and is proud that she is enjoying so much success as the woman’s basketball coach at Michigan State University, Suzy Merchant.
Merchant provided Uncle Mel with an education of basketball and respect of woman’s basketball which at the time over due and allowing Uncle Mel to watch one of the best basketball player in Eastern Michigan University history – Stephanie Smiley.
With the 2013 college football season peaking over the horizon, Uncle Mel will miss the Eagles and football coach Ron English but Uncle Mel does not think that the feeling will be mutual.
Uncle Mel seem to have the talent to irritate and to annoy English.
Your good old buddy, Uncle Mel would like to say thank you to baseball coach Jay Alexander and bless you boys for taking care of and being appreciative of the proud history and the tradition of being a member of the Eagle baseball program.
Uncle Mel has no doubt that the Eagles baseball program is in good hands and will continue success with Alexander at the helm.
Uncle Mel is hoping that when Wayne State University completes the renovation of the baseball field that Alexander and the Eagles will be the first game against the Warriors that opens up and dedicates Ernie and Lulu Harwell Field.
Uncle Mel would like to give basketball coach Rob Murphy a hand shake, a pat on the back and would just like to say thank you coach for renewing the interest and bringing back to life at Eastern Michigan University, the men’s basketball team for the many fans and for one old uncle.
The style of basketball that appears on the court inside the Convocation Center is reprehensive of the community of Eastern Michigan University, of Murphy, the Huron River and the city of Ypsilanti – tough, gritty and at times just a pleasure to setback and watch.
Uncle Mel would like to give another great big thank you to the hardest working retired Sports Information Director in the country- the one and only Jim Streeter.
The first meeting with Streeter did not go so well for Uncle Mel, he was refused a chance to work in the sports information department but just like the full moon over the famous Ypsilanti Water Tower. strange things do happen on the campus of Eastern Michigan University.
From the cold sting of rejection, to a friendship over the years that bloomed and developed between a naive journalist student and Streeter.
Remember the early days, when the SID office was in that cramp, hot and dusty corner inside Bowen Field house, recall the move to the spacious office inside of the fortified- cement walls of the Convocation Center and finally to that sunny spring day of celebration of Streeter’s retirement after 32 years of service.
Well now, Streeter makes sure that he keeps one eagle-eye focused on one old uncle that he is able to still call-his friend.
Uncle Mel would like to tip his hat and say thank you to the former voice of Eastern Michigan University athletics John Fountain and his radio engineer, cousin Jeff Fulton. Thank you for your timeless energy and guidance that will always be a part of Uncle Mel’s approach to living.
Finally, Uncle Mel would like to say thank you to the current SID at Eastern Michigan University, Greg Steiner who is enjoying the bliss of being on a honeymoon.
Your commitment to Eastern Michigan University is immeasurable and Uncle Mel only believes that you will continue to succeed and that Uncle Mel is also proud to call you friend.
After 45 years, there is always something heartbreaking about leaving a place, leaving a school or leaving people that you have come to know and care about and you know what, nieces and nephews your old uncle is beginning to feel that feeling deep in the pit-of-stomach.
The memories of the many days and the many nights of watching Eastern Michigan University athletics will always be cherished and unforgettable.
Uncle Mel will always remember the noise of the crowd in Bowen Field house when a half court shot fell through the net, just like Boykin had it planed.
Or the sound of the baseball bat meeting the baseball at the right time crossing the plate and then watching the ball sail over the left field fence like it did the first night game at Oestrike Stadium back in year of 2000 against the University of Michigan.
Watching a football game under the lights at Rynearson Stadium and seeing a floundering football program find victory and a winning season in a long time.
The memories most of all that will be missed, will be the many smiles and the joyful laughter of the friends, to each and everyone thank you for giving your old Uncle Mel your friendship and your love.
This is not good by but just instead, Uncle Mel will see you later!
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.