The fly route
I warned you about this once.
I did a big feature story on a wakeboarding park south of Spring Hill during the first summer I worked here. I didn't wakeboard, but it was hard to resist the atmosphere that was everywhere that day.
Many of the employees at the park had dropped everything to pursue their love of water, one guy even flying between Australia and the United States to ensure wakeboarding was always in season.
I wrote a column that week about how I was half tempted to drop it all and do something similarly crazy. I also made the point that I'm not quite cut out to live on Ramen and rough it every day.
I may have found the next best thing.
This is my last column for this newspaper. I've accepted a job within this same company, writing sports for the newspaper in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
It feels a little crazy, moving up into the mountains hours away from a big city and 10 hours away from my friends, my family, Michael Beasley and everything I'm familiar with. But it's a great opportunity, and I'm excited. Plus, there's a ski slope there, in case you hadn't heard.
Someone in the sports journalism industry once told me the people in your first paper's town are supposed to hate you by the time you leave. It's the place to learn the business, make the mistakes and figure it all out.
I hope you don't hate me. I've learned a lot, I've made mistakes, I've figured some of it out, and now I'm on my way.
I guess this is where I pack as many cliches in as possible - I loved it here. I'll never forget the kids, the coaches or the town. I'll definitely keep an eye on the Wildcats. Maybe De Soto won't remember me long, but I'll always remember De Soto. It was wonderful learning my trade in your town, among your families.
The thing about cliches, of course, is they're mostly true. Those ones all are.
Another sports journalism maxim involves cheering for the team you cover. Basically, you don't. Some go to great lengths to Ensure they come off as impartial, patrolling the sidelines like a robot and cracking wise about a team's misfortunes - anything to put distance between the reporter and the dreaded label of "homer."
While I'd like to think I wasn't ever that bad, I did often go out of my way to not wear green to games, to offer encouragement on the course or applause on the field.
I guess I can tell you know, though - somewhere, I did care. I saw some awesome games in my time here, and I met a lot of awesome people. I couldn't have made it without caring, and the kids, the coaches and the town made it awfully easy.
Cliche or not, I will keep an eye on De Soto - the next couple years almost surely will be a perfect time to do that. The high school's sports programs appear to be like a spring, ready to pop up. Some of the more dormant programs are starting to stir even now.
Thanks for all the help. Thanks for the kind words when you liked what I wrote and the polite corrections when you didn't.
Thanks for putting up with the occasional mistake and helping me learn to be a journalist. Thanks for not hating me.
Anyway, gotta be going now ... there's a mountain out there with my name on it.