That’s all folks: An ode from a retiring sports writer

I was barely even a teenager when I figured out what I wanted to do for a living.

Sports had always dictated much of what was on my mind. I played them growing up, spent endless hours watching them on the television, and even found a fondness for the way they were portrayed over the radio.

My biggest influence, however, arrived at our doorstep each and every morning. The sports section of a newspaper was my refuge. I was enthralled with every inch: The crispness of the photography, the creative detail in the writing, and the overload of information displayed on each and every page.

If I wasn’t going to get to the National Hockey League as a player – which was painfully obvious even then – this was going to be my route.

I embarked on the journey from the day I realized my path, studying the writing styles of those men and women in charge of filling that sports section every night, while trying to find my own niche as a sports-themed story teller.

The day I arrived on the campus at St. Cloud State University, I walked into the newspaper office at the University Chronicle. I told them I wanted in. The editor at the time noted my passion that day, and hired me to join the sports staff covering the basketball team.

I eventually got the hockey beat, and then an editor’s position. By the time I graduated, my experience in that newsroom probably prepared me for what was to come more than any second – outside of the law courses, I guess – I would spend in a classroom.

But what none of it prepared me for was the ultra-competitive job market out in the real world of reporting. I interviewed at a handful of papers, and was almost always passed up for someone with more experience.

Then, after submitting an application and resume with Sun Newspapers in the Twin Cities, I was granted a chance.

It wasn’t a big-time NHL beat I had envisioned, but it didn’t matter. That would come, no question. In the meantime, I thought, “I can handle the high school stuff.”

Life, however, changed almost instantaneously. I was married with a child. Another would follow, and eventually a third. Suddenly, 42 road dates on the NHL schedule didn’t seem as appealing, and there was something about these high school games that turned out to offer a pulse much more pure than any professional setting ever could.

I fell in love with the job, the games, and the people. I was enamored by the efforts of the kids on the fields, harkening many memories of my days as a prep athlete. I gained an enormous amount of admiration for those coaching these kids. Paychecks never dictated any of their motives. This was love. Love of a game, and of the young boys and girls they were charged with guiding through some of the most influential years of their lives.

I think now, as I’m crafting my own sports-writing obituary, witnessing those moments will be what I miss most.

This is my last week at Sun Newspapers, which comes five weeks shy of what would have been my ninth anniversary with a company that provided me with an opportunity to live my childhood dream for nearly a decade.

I’m heading into a different direction professionally, one that excites and will challenge me every bit as much as the last nine years have.

In a way, I’m writing to say farewell. But more so, I wanted to say thank you.

My co-workers have helped us form an unbelievable team over the years; one that still puts the facts first and each and every week compiles what has been recognized as some of the best weekly content in the country.

Thanks to each of you for that.

And to the people I have been in contact with out in the field. You have been gracious with your time, and entrusting me with the stories of the athletes you care so deeply about. I can never fully offer my gratitude for what you allowed me to do, and the access you granted me.

Finally, to our readers, thank you for giving me a few minutes each week. I know I disappointed at times. That comes with the job. But I worked for you more than anyone else. That was always my goal.

I’m going to miss this stuff, but there are no regrets.

I got to be a kid for 35 years.