I’ve started this column about 25 times in the last day-and-a-half. It’s become somewhat of a pre-occupation for me. I’ve found myself thinking about what I want to write as I stand in the shower in the morning. I’ve caught myself trying out different ideas in my head as I cook dinner at night. Reading my book before bed has become a lost cause because every time I get more than a half-page in, I drift off and start thinking about the column. Three pages later, I’ve no idea what I’ve read and have to start over. The premise of the column is simple enough—I’ve accepted a new job in Orillia and this will be my last week in town. However, the delivery is killing me. I want it to be good. I want people to understand how much I’ve come to enjoy it here in Fort Frances. I want to be funny. I want to be memorable. I want to say thank you. Unfortunately, the words just don’t seem to want to find their way into my head. As such, you’re just going to have to suffer through another of my rambles as I try to wrap my head around the topic. It’s been almost exactly a year since I found myself driving from Toronto to Fort Frances to take the sports reporter position with the Times. I’d be lying if I said I knew what to expect when I moved here. It was the great unknown. I’d just come out of school. This was my first job as a journalist. I’d never lived in Northern Ontario. Basically, I was clueless. A year later, I don’t regret a thing. For all I enjoyed grumbling about the long hours and the seemingly inexhaustible list of things to cover, I wouldn’t have traded my year here for anything. The reason? The people. Journalism will never make me a rich man monetarily. It’s just one of those professions where, for whatever reason, the pay cheques rarely match up with the time and effort required to do the job. However, money isn’t always everything. The best part of my job, and the part I’ll look back most fondly upon, was getting to know some of the people in this community. Fort Frances has some very dedicated and passionate people working and volunteering to make the sports scene the success it is. I always enjoyed talking shop with these people. And I can’t tell you how thankful I was they were willing to not only share their stories with me, but that they bore with me as I tried to get up to speed with every event that has happened here over the past five years. And then there were the athletes themselves. I spent the majority of my time at Fort High covering the various Muskie teams and I got to know a lot of the kids in the community fairly well. As a whole, I was always impressed with the friendliness, politeness, and sense of humour exhibited by each of the student athletes. They are a good bunch and I wish them all the best in the future—even the ones who pointed out every mistake I made, accused me of cheating at video games, or generally made fun of me. Before I sign off, I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a few minutes to thank some people without whom the job would have been nearly impossible. First off, I’d like to thank the athletic department at Fort High. I’m not sure the community at large understands the number of additional hours the faculty at Fort High put in to ensure the kids have quality extra-curricular sports. The staff at Fort High often go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the kids have the best possible experience. What’s more, they do their best to not only produce athletes, but quality people. Each of the faculty members should be applauded for their work and recognized for what they are—an integral part of this community. I’d like to thank the coaches and administrators of the various sports clubs in town for their wealth of patience. The biggest drawback of this job is that there often aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. As such, there were times when I simply couldn’t offer the amount of coverage I would have liked to the various clubs. Without exception, the people involved with these clubs were understanding and forgiving—something that was definitely appreciated. I’d like to thank my co-workers at the Times—particularly in the editorial department. From the day I got here, I felt welcomed and comfortable due to the outgoing personalities of everyone I worked with. The long hours were certainly made much more tolerable because of you all. Thank you. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some people in my little list of thank you’s and for that, I apologize. Unfortunately, years of concussions suffered playing sports have mushed my mind a bit. The omissions certainly were unintended. And with that, I’ll wrap this up by saying thanks for a great year.