Not another sappy goodbye column?

You’ve been down this road before, so I don’t intend to bore you with the gory details.
But even if it’s painfully obvious by the headline, let’s get it out in the open: I’m stepping down from my post here at the Times, effectively making this the last instalment of my “Offside” column.
A lot of good-bye columns are cheesy. Columnists will reminisce about the great friends they made, the fun times they had, or the people who influenced them. I’ll try not to get too deep into all that bittersweet stuff but, yeah, I had all of those things here in Fort Frances.
I’m trying not to get all misty-eyed over how much this job has meant to me these past 17 months. I’m trying not to get all blubbery over how you, the readers, have accommodated my many mistakes and, at the same time, praised my few successes.
I’m trying not to get emotional because that’s not usually my style, but you also must trust that there’s no dampness around my eyes as I write this.
I swear no tears are being shed.
I’d suggest the best part of this job was witnessing the growth of young athletes on and off the courts, rinks, and fields. Many high school athletes wear Muskie colours with pride and passion, and the same can be said for other athletes on sports teams and organizations across Rainy River District.
The local sports scene also has some very dedicated and passionate people working out of the spotlight who made my job more manageable.
The athletic department at Fort High goes to great lengths to encourage students to participate in athletics. Most of the teachers put in additional time to coach and mentor young athletes—both in sports and in life.
And each of them has been accommodating to my endless requests for results and interviews, and I thank all of them for their help.
I’d also like to thank the coaches on the myriad of different sports teams and clubs outside of the high school who helped me get up to speed upon my arrival here.
It’s difficult for an “outsider” to jump right in and understand and acknowledge the intricacies and history of sports in the area, and hopefully you’ll be as accommodating to the next person as you were with me.
I know not every club or team was happy with the coverage they received during my tenure, but it’s honestly hard to give everyone their due. After all, there’s only so many hours in a day—and the continuing stories week in and week out on Muskie teams and junior hockey are necessary to fill a daunting section each week.
Those teams provide newsworthy material on a weekly basis, and quite simply they warrant more coverage than other recreational leagues and organizations.
That’s just a fact.
At the same time, I did my best to cover major events on every sport while, at the same time, also featuring Muskie alumni who have continued their sports tenures at higher levels.
Portraying the lives of athletes in and out of the sports they play was a continuing goal of mine.
Here’s the downside: I must stress how important communicating with the sportswriter is. Making him or her aware of an event ahead of time, rather than complaining about a lack of coverage afterwards, is crucial.
These instances were few and far between, and I appreciate that, but please don’t be afraid to send a friendly reminder or casual e-mail. It will not be taken the wrong way (I can promise you that).
I must admit, though, there were more than a few bad days on the job. Sporting events take place on evenings and weekends, and I was prepared for that going in. But coupled with an early morning start-time five days a week, and often significant commitments at all hours on weekends, it got to be too much at times.
And dealing with criticism can be hard, but it’s also part of life. I knew I wasn’t going to make everyone happy, but I did my best to portray everything in a fair and balanced way.
This was my first gig out of school and that meant I was learning on the job, so to speak, but the experience gained—through mistakes or otherwise—was invaluable. The opportunities you get here to not only write about every sport, but also take photographs, is not something available to journalists in major markets.
I admittedly knew very little when it came to photography and page layout before I arrived here, but now I honestly can say I’m proficient at both. I have the Times to thank for that.
But as you know, these are troubled times for newspapers. Every large paper appears to be struggling, not only with a difficult economy but with the need to adapt to new Internet trends.
The Times appears to be stable here, but not entirely unaffected, and I felt a move into corporate communications would be a wise step at this point in time.
Most importantly, the change allows me to move back to Winnipeg, where I’ve spent the majority of my life.
Fort Frances has plenty of redeeming qualities, but there isn’t an abundance of people in their mid-20s here. Don’t get me wrong, I met some good friends here that will remain good friends. And my Fort Frances relatives also eased the transition by opening their homes and including me in their social activities.
But Winnipeg simply has more to offer someone my age outside of work, and who wants to live entirely for their job?
I’m young enough to still have the freedom to move, so for better or worse, this is the right choice for me.
Adios. Goodbye. See you around.
Thanks for the memories.

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