September 19, 2001




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Columbia Mourns the Loss of a Son
Charlie Katz-Leavy
Associate Sports Editor

How many people do you know? How many friends do you have? How many groups, circles, or families do you belong to?

The world can be a big or a small place, depending on where we find ourselves. But no matter how big and intimidating or small and suffocating our environments may feel, it is always nice to know people. A good friend or just a familiar face can change the way we feel about a place or a time.

Sports can be an easy way to meet people. This is particularly true on a college campus. I have met many people at Columbia through my involvement with athletics, people I would not have otherwise known. I have met people by covering sports for the Spectator, going to Columbia sporting events, using the fitness center, and watching World Series games at the West End or the Redskins games at AmCaf. I have also met other students through intramural athletics.

Every year I put together a team for the spring intramural softball season. The team always consists of my friends from school, and every year we are horrible. Sophomore year I decided that I was going to bring in some ringers to help fill out the roster and give us a better chance of competing against the usual powerhouse teams from ZBT or Sigma Chi.

I thought about whom to call and finally decided on contacting Zack Schiller. Zack was from Washington, D.C. and his father had coached my recreational league basketball team. Zack had gone to my high school for two years and had lived in my neighborhood, so I knew him pretty well. It is also important to note that Zack played basketball for Columbia at that time, was about 6'7", and weighed more than anyone I knew. I figured if anyone could put a hurting on the old softball, it would be Zack.

But Zack did not come alone. Instead, he brought along one of his best friends from Columbia, another former basketball player named Tyler Ugolyn. Tyler was an inch or two shorter than Zack, but he was bigger, and as it turned out, a lot more coordinated. Zack ended up hitting one or two singles for our team, but his friend Tyler crushed a home run that flew out of Morningside Park and gave us the win. Of course, we invited them back for the rest of the season.

Starting with that experience, I got to know Tyler a little better. We would have casual conversations on the street, play pick-up with Mike Merley, Zack, Matt Hill, and others in the gym. I would see him at his perch in the Heights or coming out of a job fair from Lerner, dressed to the nines.

I never became best friends with Tyler, but I became friendly with him. His was a familiar face that would make my stops in KDR, Cannon's, or countless other places just that much more comfortable.

When I first learned of the attack on the World Trade Center, I was angered, upset, and worried. I felt compassion for the victims and hatred toward the perpetrators, but everything was surreal. I never cried, never really felt the earth move. I was not truly affected in an immediate and personal way. But when I learned this weekend that Tyler was working in the World Trade Center on Tuesday and that nobody has seen him since the attack, everything became a lot more real. It was no longer surreal, and I was directly affected.

Now the sports world is coming back to life, and another intramural season will soon roll around. I look forward to the new group of people I might meet and the group of people I will see once again, but it will be different this time.

When I go to take the field, I will feel a little weird, a little uncomfortable, a little lost. I know that something will be missing--a giant guy with a huge smile, a loud laugh, and an uncanny ability to hit game-winning home runs. The next time I go to the Heights, I will notice that someone is missing from the bar. The next time I play pick-up at Levien, I will know someone is not around to can three-pointers from two feet behind the arch.

Tyler will be missed by everyone who ever met him or knew him.





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