“In life, and in sports, we all know that nothing lasts forever.”
Those words were spoken by Peyton Manning two years ago during his press conference announcing that he was leaving the Indianapolis Colts.
Manning, one of the greatest quarterbacks the NFL has ever known, is my favorite professional athlete who doesn’t play in St. Louis.
While I certainly don’t compare my time at The Missourian to Manning’s career with the Colts, I think that quote also can be used in my current situation.
After 17 1/2 years as a sports writer for The Missourian, I’ve decided the time has come to step away and try something else.
I’ve accepted a position with the Washington School District as communications and website content manager.
I’ll still be writing stories, taking pictures and doing website work, among other things, for the Washington schools.
Putting into words or writing a column about my time at The Missourian isn’t easy.
Where do I begin? What do I say? Who do I mention? Who will I accidentally leave out?
I can’t even begin to guess how many stories I’ve written for The Missourian and how many different students, coaches and teams I’ve covered over the years.
I’ve seen so many athletes, coaches and athletic directors come and go.
I wish I could mention everyone, but that would be impossible.
There are a few head coaches who have kept their positions during my entire time at The Missourian, which dates back to September of 1996.
Dale Gildehaus and Dave Neier of Borgia, John VanLeer and Jeff Reed of Pacific, Linda Birk and Allen Speckhals of Hermann and Ray Steinhoff of New Haven are the ones who come to mind.
Folks like Greg Dunigan, Chris Arand, Steve Neier, Dave Scheer, Bill Juengel, Scott Brown, Andy Herbst, Dino McKinney, Doris Jones, Bill Kimminau, Pete Jett, Gary Leimkuehler and John Covington also have been around during my entire Missourian career.
Another person who has been around the whole time is Bill Battle.
Bill and I rarely were at the same sporting event at the same time.
With such a large coverage area and only two sports reporters, we had a lot of ground to cover.
Most schools in the state and across the country don’t get the coverage that The Missourian gives area teams. I hope folks realize that.
Bill and I made a lot of personal sacrifices to make sure teams got the coverage we felt they deserved. Bill will no doubt keep that tradition going without me.
As far as events that I covered for The Missourian, I’ll never forget Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta, where the Rams defeated the Titans on “The Tackle” by Mike Jones.
I’ll always remember Washington’s trip to the state championship football game against Webb City in 2001 at the Edward Jones Dome. Not just that game, but the playoff games leading up to it were an incredible time.
Going to Mizzou to cover Borgia and New Haven basketball teams winning state championships is something I’ll never forget.
It was a blast covering the St. Clair and Pacific baseball teams during their respective third-place state finishes.
There were so many other sporting events that I was fortunate enough to cover, but I won’t mention.
One of the first things I covered at The Missourian was a Friday night football game at St. Clair. Dennis Lottmann was the Bulldogs’ head coach.
When I started at The Missourian, Jim Scanlan was the athletic director at Washington High School.
I remember a phone call I made to him back when I first started. I needed something and his response was, “Who are you again?”
We’ve gotten to know each other a lot better over the years. He’s like family now. I miss those punches to the arm he used to deliver to me when he was in better health.
In a way, Coach Scanlan reminds me a lot of my father, who passed away in 2002.
My co-workers at The Missourian were great to me during that time, as they were during my entire career.
I was given as much time off as I felt I needed. After a week, I wanted to get back into it.
The first game I covered after my dad died was a boys basketball game between Washington and Pacific. I think everyone in the gym came up to me and expressed their condolences. I also received tons of emails and cards. That’s the kind of community we have here.
When I got my job at The Missourian, my dad was more excited about it than I was.
The Missourian also has been gracious enough to sponsor my men’s slow-pitch softball team for the last several years.
I always cracked up when someone called me a photographer. I’m far from a photographer.
I’ve been lucky enough to capture a handful of great images during my time at the Missourian.
And I’ve also managed to miss one or two potentially great images that happened right in front of me.
Over the last 17 years, I’ve become an expert in beef cattle by covering the beef breeding show every year on Sunday morning at the Washington Town and Country Fair.
If the Fair ever needs a beef breeding judge, I’m available.
During my first year at The Missourian, a former co-worker asked me how long I thought I’d be working here.
“No more than five years,” I answered.
I was way off.
Never did I think it would be over 17 years.
The reason I stayed for so long is the people at The Missourian.
I can’t thank the Miller family enough for what they’ve done for me. Thanks to Bill Sr., Bill Jr., Jeanne and Sue.
I feel very lucky to have worked for them, as well as our managing editor, Ed Pruneau. All the other talented Missourian employees whose names you don’t see in the paper have been great to me and a pleasure to work with.
This community is unbelievably lucky to have a publication such as The Missourian.
It’s tough to leave, but change can be a good thing.
The truth is that this job can wear on you after a while.
As great as it is to cover sports for a living, it can become a grind. The older I got, the more I began to wonder how much longer I could be out every other night and every weekend covering games.
When a new opportunity presented itself, I felt like I had to take it.
I’ve met and have become friends with so many great people over the years. I hope to continue those relationships.
I’ll still be in the area and will attend a good amount of sporting events, as a spectator. Old habits die hard.
Good luck to everyone and thanks for the memories. It’s been a great 17 years.