This is a great time of year to live in the Copper Country. The fall foliage will be out soon, there are football days and nights a-plenty and there's a certain crispness in the air.
Also, I enjoy the energy that the students of Michigan Tech and Finlandia bring to the community. They've been moving in en masse over the last few weeks. I've seen a lot of freshmen and their parents wandering about, and now that I've been out of college for a few years, I feel like I have some wisdom to impart.
So, with apologies to Donald S. Cherry, listen up, all you kids out there.
Welcome to the Copper Country. It's a great place to live and a great place to be a sports fan. Saturday night hockey during Winter Carnival, Sherman Field football beside the fall colors, there's lots to like. Take advantage of it.
Your first chance is Saturday, Tech football against Tiffin. Going up the hill to Sherman Field is a hike, yeah, but all of us can use a little exercise. I plan on walking to the game if it's nice. Helps me burn off the KBC calories.
After all, when I was your age, I walked 30 minutes (both ways!) in the snow across campus to watch Mid-American Conference basketball at Central Michigan University. Didn't have many expectations for that first game I watched - by the end of my first season, the Chippewas were in the Big Dance. Still have the student section T-shirt from that year.
Finlandians, you've got big things growing on your side of the bridge, too. The McAfee Field complex, now in its second year, is a jewel for the Hancock community and represents some of the first shoots of an athletic program that plans to bear some serious fruit in the future.
Just because you're out of the way doesn't mean you won't see a star in the making. Watch the Vikings game Sunday (if you must). Joe Berger? He went here. Tony Esposito? Him too.
As for the opponents - that cornerback for the Cowboys last night? Played for Grand Valley. They'll be here in a month.
Make use of the resources to get out and play yourself. Run, walk, ride, skate, ski. It took me four years in Houghton before I got a chance to explore the Tech Trails. Go as soon as you can.
It will snow. A lot. The easiest way to overcome it is to keep yourself busy - I do it by going to a lot of games. You can take that approach, or just hit the books that much harder.
I make only two requests of you. The first one: Please don't stop in the Yooper Loop. If you are driving with a friend, please tell them not to stop in the Yooper Loop.
The second one's a bit more personal. I grew up loving watching college hockey on the weekends in the U.P. The likes of Jonathan Toews, Brian Rafalski and Thomas Vanek have slept in Houghton and played on the same ice you may have seen on the tour.
Some of the teams you see in the WCHA this year won't be there anymore after the season. So, I encourage you to make their last visits to Houghton as WCHA members extra memorable.
For example. A pleasant reminder to Wisconsin and Minnesota from the math department that six does not equal 10 (nor, for that matter, does 12) may be in order.
For the pep band, how about greeting the North Dakota Fighting ______ and the rest of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference with the league's unofficial theme song? It's in your repertoire already: "Sell Out" by Reel Big Fish.
Keep it clean, of course. Wit trumps profanity any day. But the choice they made, to not have to put up with trips to Houghton and games they can't get on television, mocks the choice you made: to attend a good school in a wonderful little corner of the world that might be God's best-kept secret.
Enjoy your time here. It'll be over before you know it. Especially if you stop in the Yooper Loop. We might deport you for that.
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.