Hello, my name is Myron Ripley. For those of you here who I have not had the privilege to meet, I was a longtime friend of Michael’s. It is with both honor and sadness I accept this award on behalf of Michael and for his parents, Don and Bert Colley.
The time since Michael’s passing has not been an easy one for any of us who knew him. He is constantly on our minds each and every day. I was with Michael the day he passed, and I still can’t believe the events that have transpired since that fateful Saturday in July.
However, today I pause from this sadness to express my heartfelt appreciation to the USILA for honoring Michael in such a distinguished way.
It is even more touching to think that the award carries the name of E. Doyle Smith. Doyle was a mentor to Michael and me. He taught us that service to an institution doesn’t necessarily mean being the person in the spotlight but many times being the person behind the scenes.
As Doyle’s life was being impacted by the dreaded disease of Parkinson’s, Michael began to take on a larger role with the UVa lacrosse program. Eventually, Michael became the media relations contact for lacrosse with Doyle’s retirement in 1999. I was so pleased that he was chosen for this role. Both Doyle and Michael loved all aspects of the game, from the statistical minutiae to the beauty and grace that lacrosse embodies. Curiously, this love came to both of them even though neither played the game.
I knew Michael was up to the task of orchestrating game-day operations, and selfishly I was excited because I would get to work with him at UVa lacrosse games. How many people in life get to work with one of their best friends on something that you both love so dearly?
When Doyle passed in 2004, Michael was the first person I called. I remember the two of us meeting outside of Doyle’s home and just hugging each other along with our dear friend, Cathy Tapogna. It was a very emotional moment that I will never forget.
As the years passed, Mike became more and more involved with UVa lacrosse. He had an unbelievable respect for Dom Starsia, Marc Van Arsdale, and all the players who made up the UVa lacrosse team. The players were like sons to him and they affectionately called him “Media Mike.”
He also continued Doyle’s legacy of stat-keeping. Many of you here worked with Michael on nationalizing and standardizing the statistics of the game of lacrosse. Mike would usually call me after such a discussion just to get my thoughts.
All of us around UVa lacrosse would normally get an e-mail or voice-mail sometime after football season ended announcing that lacrosse season was only a matter of days away. Mike would have the exact number and he would usually tell me, Rich Murray or Jeff White, who both work for the University, that he couldn’t wait. The smile on his face was priceless.
I am not sure what the spring holds for UVa lacrosse this coming year. Hopefully, another year of excellence on the field. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that for me it will be somewhat hollow. In my 23 years as serving in the role as the head statistician at UVa home games I had the privilege of working with only two men, Doyle Smith and Michael Colley. I am not sure how I will fill that void.
One taught me to love the game in a behind-the-scenes way. The other taught me to treasure every moment we were together, for you never knew when you would get a chance to see another lacrosse game.
I close by saying that it is my distinguished privilege to accept this award for Michael Colley. I only wish he was here to accept it himself.