My byline has appeared in every issue of the Marana News, and for the past three-plus years every issue of The Explorer has also contained my stories. That may very well be coming to an end.
It is with mixed emotions I announce that this is the last issue in which I will be a full-time employee of the Marana News/Explorer. Although I will continue contributing to the sports page, it will be on a part time basis, as I have left journalism altogether to pursue a new opportunity. Although it was the best decision for my family, I will greatly miss these fantastic papers.
A little over 10 years ago, I got a phone call from Carl Shifflette, a former co-worker at a magazine at which I was the editor. He said the newspaper he was at was starting a new publication at which they needed a sportswriter, and he suggested me. I went to go talk to them, but had no real intention of taking the job—I was working in radio and running a website at the time. I left there realizing I could fit all the projects in and became the first, and so far only, sports writer for the Marana News.
Over the next seven years, the Marana community welcomed me with open arms. I went into the job knowing next to nothing about either Mountain View or Marana, and now know more about their histories than I do of my own alma mater.
The first games I covered were a softball and baseball game at Marana High School, where I met one of my best friends in the world, Rick Faust. Rick helped me get acquainted with the teams, and would later become one of my photographers. I can’t say for sure, but I bet we have covered over 75 football games over the years and have added countless other sports and events.
Over those seven years I worked with a lot of great people, but I would be remiss if I did not mention Tonja Greenfield who was my editor (and friend) for most of that time. She provided guidance, but also trusted my judgment on how to fill those pages and what games deserved the attention.
In 2014 the paper was sold, and I joined the Tucson Local Media family. I added more schools to my coverage, and met more great people. I had great editors like Thelma Grimes, David Rupkalvis, Mari Herreras and Jim Nintzel. All four taught me a lot and gave me new perspectives. JD Fitzgerald made my stories look great with his photographs, and for the past two years Logan Burtch-Buus and I have formed a two-man team that puts bigger news rooms to shame.
Over the past 10 years, I have seen more good games than I can count. I have covered state titles and sports I never knew I would watch, much less enjoy. I have seen world-class athletes and kids with next to no athletic talent who had more guts and heart than you could imagine. I have seen little leaguers grow up to be men and women, and I have come to know parents who would shape the way I would raise my own kids.
I have been invited to graduation parties, team banquets and even celebrations before Latter Day Saints athletes went on their mission. I received birthday wishes from a pro basketball player in Sweden, and attended the funeral of a player’s father who I could call a friend. I rode on team busses and have been invited into team locker-rooms.
My first award in journalism was when the Marana swim team named me their sports writer of the year, and I still have that certificate on my desk.
I have travelled all over the city, heck, all over the state to cover games. I have been welcomed into your homes, your churches, your business and most importantly your schools.
You trusted me to write about your kids, your friends and in a few cases your grandparents. You let me tell your stories, many that have never been told before. That trust has led me to win awards, your candor guiding my hands across the keys. Your stories acting as my unseen muse, my small personal glories coming from your struggles and accomplishments.
Sports can give you the greatest joys and the lowest lows, and I have been blessed to be there to write about them both.
I don’t know what the future will bring, but you will see me around. I am working for the Town of Marana and whether I am writing or not, I will still be in the stands and on the sidelines. There are too many great athletes who I have known since they were small children still closing out their high school careers.
Thank you for 10 great years, 10 years I will never forget.