A final look around the area

Published 8:58am Thursday, April 5, 2012

Column: Second Thoughts

My first column at the Tribune was titled “Here, there and back again,” and I wrote how my career had brought me back to the last place I ever thought I’d end up — my hometown.

Nearly two years later, I write my last column and leave with a whole new perspective.

Today was my final day at the Tribune, and, in fact, by the time you read this, I’ll likely be on my way to start my new life in Nashville, Tenn. Like Albert Lea, I never envisioned myself living in the south. Hopefully my next adventure will as rewarding as this one has.

I started at the Tribune in late May 2010 and caught only the tail end of the spring sports season. I spent that first summer reacquainting myself with a town I had spent my entire life in but from the other side of the sideline, and starting that fall I learned, for the first time, what amazing athletes and coaches we have in this area.

I visited Lake Mills, Iowa, for the first time in a decade only to discover a volleyball team with the ability to bring an entire community together in one gym and provide a sense of pride to thousands of adoring fans.

I had to learn the most basic rules of wrestling, and now leave with it as one of my favorite sports. I’m amazed at the amount of courage it takes for one athlete to compete with an entire gym of eyes only on him.

Finally, among others, I saw first hand how much pain and sacrifice some of the area’s young athletes have to put into their craft before they are rewarded with a state championship.

I knew very few of the area’s coaches and none of its athletes just over two years ago, but I leave with the utmost respect for them and as their biggest fan.

I am very thankful for my opportunity to work as sports editor of the Tribune. I like to think I’ll never work with a better group of coaches, athletes and colleagues.

I’ll never forget covering Lake Mills volleyball’s incredible run over the past two years and will continue to follow and root for them even from the south. I may even catch a match when I’m back home visiting family.

I’m excited to see where New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva girls’ basketball player Carlie Wagner’s career takes her and how Albert Lea wrestling fares each season in its conference and section.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on Albert Lea’s Chrissy Monson to see if the junior runner can repeat as the 1,600-meter state champion.

I’m a new fan of seven different area schools and thank everyone associated with them for making my job so rewarding over the past two years. I want to especially thank Albert Lea and the surrounding communities for welcoming me back home. It was a great stay.