It’s been a slice

I’m not going to make you sit through a half-hour of inane questions and fat-headed puffery before announcing this decision.
I’m by no means the LeBron James of my field, but I’m taking this space to announce I’m leaving my post with the Times tomorrow to take the same position with the Portage la Prairie Daily Graphic back in Manitoba.
I have a few tinges of sadness leaving here (anytime you spend a year of your life in a community, you’re bound to get attached) but getting closer to friends and family in Winnipeg is definitely an exciting proposition.
There’s honestly not a ton I can say that hasn’t been addressed before, either by myself or previous sports reporters here at the Times.
Yeah, it’s not the easiest thing for a city kid to try to make a go of it in a small town. But that certainly did help, as you certainly would find out quickly who reads the paper.
I learned a lot here. For instance, I wasn’t much of a photographer when I came out to Fort Frances (a fact underscored when I was working on the “Best of 2010” page in recent weeks) but I’m now proud of how much I’ve developed in that area in my nearly 13 months here.
I hope the next sports reporter is one who comes back as a returning hero, puts in more than a year or two in this chair, and really makes a good go of it.
From looking at some stories in the archives, it seems that much like the Kansas City Royals of baseball, the Times is able to employ fine reporters but just can’t land one to hold the title for a lengthy period.
This paper deserves that—and this town deserves that.
Realistically, though, the next candidate likely is going to be another young ’un fresh out of school, get his or her feet wet, and then move on in the span of 12-24 months.
It’s unfortunate, as there were things I would have approached differently in my second go-around through the calendar, but the one-and-done seems to be a way of life.
In my case, there wasn’t much other than the job to pin me out here. With the quality of the paper and the good people who work here, if the Times were located within an hour of Winnipeg, my desire to be a lifer would be much higher.
But as my predecessor, Mitch Calvert, explained in his final “Offside” column, “who wants to live entirely for their job?” My schedule in Portage, and proximity to Winnipeg, should allow me to see friends and family on a regular basis. Although I did my best to make things work by getting home for holidays, and keeping in touch through e-mail and Skype, there still was plenty of homesickness.
It wasn’t the easiest thing jumping right in and trying to get caught up on what was important out here (though getting to work on the 2009 year in review in my first few days here certainly was an advantage), and I certainly appreciated contacts and readers being patient as I settled in.
As well, thanks to contacts for putting up with me when I called at some perhaps unexpected hours, and getting me information quickly when I got to be in a bit of an “I NEED THIS NOW” situation.
All in all, residents in the district were understanding with me as I got my footing, and it’d be fantastic to see that continue for the next writer who pops into this chair.
As has been said before, if there’s an event going on, touching base with the sportswriter a few days before (and even sending a reminder a day or two before) is absolutely welcomed.
With junior sports, we try to get to the big-time stories, but we just don’t have the time or resources to get to everything. If your team went to an out-of-town tournament and would like results printed, write-ups are welcomed, space permitting, although dropping off game sheets in a timely fashion before should result in at least a quick story, as well.
One other thing I wanted to get in, although I don’t think it’ll be an issue, is give the new reporter a clean slate to work with. I had my successes, I had my failures, but whoever takes my place had nothing to do with any of those things, for better or for worse.
Give that person the opportunity to make a path on his/her own without being painted by anything written by me or any previous sports reporters. If the new reporter does things a little bit differently, giving one club a little more ink than I did, perhaps at the expense of a few inches for another club, try to roll with it.
It’ll probably be another reporter fresh out of school looking to figure things out immediately, and that’s not always possible.
We try to get all clubs the attention that they deserve, but it’s not always possible.
Well, this is it.
Thanks again to everyone with whom I’ve crossed paths over the course of my employment here, whether it was once or twice overall or once or twice a week. I think I’ve improved quite a bit since I’ve been out here, and though my current point is an all right one, the starting point wasn’t always outstanding.
In that vein, thanks to the Times for taking a chance on me and giving me the opportunity to become the reporter I am today. I got the opportunity to cover a wide gamut of sports, from the staples of hockey, fastball, and soccer to skeet shooting, roller derby, and all sorts of fishing.
I’m excited for a new opportunity in Portage la Prairie, and hopefully, making in-roads with a major daily at some point down the line.
Thanks again, Fort Frances, and perhaps our paths will intertwine again, if only briefly.

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