Thursday, September 18, 2008

Losing an inspiration

For the first time on this blog, I'm writing about something that has nothing to do with the Sun or the WNBA, but has meaning to me that extends far past that. I just returned from Natick, Mass., where I attended the funeral mass of Jack Falla, a long-time professor at Boston University, a former hockey writer for Sports Illustrated and an author of several books, including Open Ice, which was recently released. Prof. Falla, as I've always called him, died of a heart attack early Sunday morning.

He was the one person I'll always remember from my days at the College of Communication at BU. He taught with the same passion he covered sports, and was one of the finest professors that school had and ever will have. He always scheduled his popular sports journalism class for 8:30 a.m., his way of driving out the students who were just looking for a good time (which the class was) and pulling in the ones who could really benefit from everything he could teach them.

The things those outside his classroom will remember him for are many: He was a definitive voice in hockey and remained so through his works up until his death. He was a devoted father, a loving husband and a dear friend to anyone who knew him. To me, no person has had more of an influence on my career and how I approach each day of what I do. One of three references I've used since my junior year in college, he always told me in e-mails, "If I get the call, I'll go into Scott Boras mode for you." And I never doubted that he did.

I've posted a few links from columns and stories written about him in recent days, but as a man who mastered mixing life, sports and the English language — usually all in the same sentence — he left people with many sayings, including this my good friend and BU classmate Mike Lipka used in his final column at our school newspaper: Keep your head up. Keep your stick on the ice. And just try to get the ball past the next first down marker.

You'll be missed, Jack.

Links from: the Boston Herald, Boston Globe, Fluto Shinzawa's blog. Update: ESPN.

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