CLINTON — There are few times you can get such joy and sorrow out of one thing, but this is one of them.
After a 20-year association with the Herald, the past 91/2 years as sports editor, I am moving on to a new job in the Quad-Cities.
I can’t leave, however, without expressing my gratitude to all of you who have made this job so special.
During my tenure I have been fortunate enough to cover state championship teams, standout athletes and coaches I consider friends.
You have given me memories too numerous to count. Most of them happy.
Through hard work, Clinton’s David Johnson and DeWitt’s Casey Kreiter have made it to the NFL. Devan Douglas of Clinton has taken his basketball skills to the Harlem Globetrotters. Numerous Clinton LumberKings have broken into Major League Baseball. And so many others have taken their skills to the next level, some at the Division I level and some at smaller colleges, and so many of them and other former area athletes have become productive citizens after their sports careers have ended.
There are a few memories that stand out and so many others that could join them if they popped into my head.
From meeting Ian Kinsler, the nicest professional baseball player I have had the chance to cover; to watching David Johnson and his marvelous classmates dominate on the football field as seniors; to covering two Morrison state championship football teams and one title-winning softball team; to following Byron Tate’s successful career as a high school state champion wrestler to winning three national titles; to covering the dominating senior class of track champions Erika Hammond, Sydney Laufenberg and Aleenah Marcucci who have taken their talents to the Division I level; there have been so many high points of this job.
There have been heartbreaking stories, too, as well as stories of courage and perseverance that make sports so fun to cover. And there have been so many wonderful athletes to cover, some who might have spent their careers in the background and others who have had time in the spotlight.
Of course, there have been some sad and shocking stories along the way but certainly the happy times were more prevalent.
Most of the athletes have benefited from participating in athletics, and I have benefited from covering them.
The newspaper business has changed so much since I began my career, it’s amazing, though many of the changes have made the job more challenging.
Making the decision to leave that much tougher is the fact I have worked with so many wonderful people at the Herald.
Starting with Ted Schultz, the sports editor who brought me in as a freelance writer 20 years ago; to Jay Rickertsen, my first assistant sports editor when I came on as sports editor in 2008; to Kurt Ritzman and Zach James, my two assistants who were here the longest; to Carie Kuehn, the current assistant sports editor, I have been surrounded by great people in the sports department. During that time we have lost two men who did so much for the Herald sports department, George Kampling and Jerry Ramig, and I am so happy I had the opportunity to work with both of them.
But the Herald family that has treated me so well goes so far beyond the sports world.
Charlene Bielema and Scott Levine have been leading the newsroom since I became sports editor, and there are so many others, such as retired photo editor Jerry Dahl, who have been wonderful colleagues.
The folks in advertising have been great, providing many story tips. The people who work on the first floor here — in circulation, in classified advertising and in the business office are tremendous, and I can’t forget the guys who ran the presses and the delivery people who get the newspaper to you every day.
But mostly I need to thank all of you: the readers who keep us in business, the coaches and administrators we deal with every day who make our jobs easier, and the parents and fans who oftentimes have kind words or constructive criticism that make us better professionals.
Most of all, though, thanks has to go out to all the athletes I have had the pleasure to cover, from those at the area high schools, those who have gone off to college or participated in athletics at Ashford University or Clinton Community College, or the professional athletes who have come through Clinton with the LumberKings.
Because of all of these great people it isn’t easy to leave, and I certainly will miss you.
Fortunately, I won’t be that far away — I actually will have a shorter drive from my house to work each day — and you just might see me in the stands occasionally.
This isn’t a job I can simply walk away from and turn my back on. All of you have made it much too special for that, and I thank you all.