COLUMN: Thank you for everything, Chippewas


Austin Chastain in front of the CMU seal on Dec. 12 near Warriner Hall. 

My closest friends and I sat at a small (and safe) gathering in my apartment as finals week started to creep onto the horizon. 

I looked around at the conversations, the laughter, the joy, the friendship and thought to myself, "Wow, this is what it was all about." 

While the emotions filled my heart, I couldn't let the tears fall yet – I had a beer pong game to win and a flip cup game to get to. That competitive spirit is what has kept me going through all of the hard times. 

I'll need to call on that spirit to keep me going once again – in a big way. 

My heart hurts as I now have to say goodbye to my best friends in the entire world. I know it’s part of growing up – but, damn, this hurts. 

Mount Pleasant has been my home for the last three-and-a-half years. 

I don’t subscribe to the cliché that “I knew I wanted to be here the second I got here.” I didn’t, I had a good idea I wanted to be at Central Michigan University – but I didn’t know. I was even unsure when I felt homesick and anxious during Leadership Safari. 

But when I made my way to Mount Pleasant in the fall of 2018, I knew I had a great opportunity ahead of me to not only make a career – but have a hell of a lot of fun along the way. 

Whether it was the long nights at the bars around town, having game nights with my closest friends or the memorable trips I was able to take with my buddies following Chippewa sports working for Central Michigan Life.

Working at CM Life from September 2018 to April 2021, I made some of my best buddies, had some professional opportunities open up and lived some insane experiences along the way. 

Travelling to San Antonio for the women’s basketball run in the NCAA Tournament, our trip to New Mexico for the 2019 New Mexico Bowl or – my personal favorite – seeing Niagara Falls as we traveled to Buffalo during the 2019 football season. 

It hasn’t always been about sports, not even close.

At CMU, I found love on multiple occasions, lost it on multiple occasions (those times hurt, but they made me who I am today). I’ve made lifelong friends that I can do the “Cupid Shuffle” with on almost any occasion and get a big laugh at how a bad decision it is – and it always is. 

Yes, I had a lot of fun, but I made plenty of mistakes – mistakes that I regret and some that I'm thankful to have made so I can learn the life lessons and carry them with me to what’s next.

That said, it’s time for me to find what’s next – it’s time for me to move on from CMU. 

I’m ready for the challenge because of my friends and my family. First of all, I have to thank my mom – she is my biggest support and often my toughest critic, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Along with my dad, who has always been there for some absurd car repairs, a cold beer and an ear to listen. Grandma, thank you for giving me my start and supporting my work along the way. Heather, Jess, thank you for the endless kind words and all the love. Seaner, thank you for always being there for me through the years and hilarious stories. 

There are so many thanks to give – but I’ll start with my boys. Andy, Evan – thank you for trusting me and giving me all of the opportunities to chase down our dreams together. Christian, Mitch, thank you for pushing me to be my best and for having my back – always. Kyle, thank you for being the apartment boss – we never had a dull moment, did we? Ryan, thank you for giving me a great perspective on life – one I’ll carry with me forever. J, thank you for the memories and the adventures – ones I will carry with me forever. 

The perspective Ryan, one of my best buddies, taught me is to be your own best friend. One of the best things I learned at CMU was how to believe in myself. I lacked confidence in who I was and what I was all about when I first got here. It took a long while, but I have started to figure it out and I have found confidence in myself.

I am heading to a new adventure with so many great tools in my pocket. From writing, photography, videography and multimedia. I most importantly, I know that I can do anything I set my mind to – that means the world to me, and I owe that to CM Life.

Lastly, to the readers – thank you. I have had the great pleasure of meeting you around town or interacting over on Twitter. Without your support, CM Life would not be what it is – one of the best student media organizations in the country. 

Saying goodbye is difficult. I’m saying goodbye to my home for the last three-and-a-half years, I’m saying goodbye to CMU – most sadly – I’m saying goodbye to my best friends. 

As tears fall onto my keyboard, I can only think of one thing to remember.

Remember to live in the moment, remember to have fun, remember to love people – including yourself. Be happy – do the things in life that you enjoy. This is truly a crazy thing we do – life.

I’ll catch you on the flip side, Chippewa family. Meanwhile, there are still a million things I haven’t done – I’ve got so much work to do. 

Don’t worry, I’ll stay true to my colors, with banners bold – and I’ll always “Fight for Maroon and Gold, down the field for CMU.”

Fire up Chips.