This is going to be the hardest column I have written.
It’s not that I have writer’s block — quite the opposite. It’s that I am emotional.
My last day at the News-Capital is Tuesday. I accepted the sports editor position at the DuBois County Herald in Jasper, Ind.
Let me take you back to July 2017, as I was struggling out of college. I was working part time for a local park district back home.
I worked at an ice arena, and some of my duties included sweeping and mopping floors, picking up trash from bleachers and locker rooms and cleaning glass windows.
I also had been going to three local parks in my area and picked up garbage off the ground for a certain allotted time.
There were three job interviews I had one week that month. One was in North Carolina, the other in Texas and the other in McAlester.
I try to prepare and study for jobs I know I have interviews for. I remember being a finalist for the News-Capital’s sports editor opening. I was impressed with what I saw, and told myself I would do anything to come down here.
There were feelings of joy, of ecstasy, of relief, when I received the phone call that I had been hired to become the next sports editor, and my life changed just like that.
It’s very hard to pinpoint just two or three favorite memories, but covering Red Oak, Kiowa, Kinta and Lakewood during their state championship seasons was an experience I’ll never forget.
Sometimes I’d joke around with coaches after a game, provided the right timing.
Pittsburg girls beat Savanna in double overtime in the Pitt 8 Conference quarterfinals this past January. Lady Panthers coach Matt Henry and I both have thin hair lines. After they won, I told him I was surprised he still had any hair left. He laughed out loud.
Kiowa softball coach Keith Quaid wore the first Class B fast-pitch state championship ring on his hand last year. After the Cowgirls won the Class A slow-pitch crown, I asked him which finger the slow-pitch ring was going on. He said he didn’t know, but it was good to have options.
The first two favorites that come to mind are the two series of stories I did in my tenure here.
I saw a headline that in 2018, McAlester would be renewing its rivalry with a school named Ada. Even before I got this job, I envisioned the things that I would do about the rivalry returning.
I remember poring over old articles in the News-Capital office between the two teams, and I have to credit that as a big step.
This past January, I started thinking about the state tournament in basketball, and the Jim Norick Arena, aka the Big House, and I wanted to do something on it.
I’m thankful for all of the players who talked to me, some of whom had been out of high school for a while, and the coaches, who gave their insights and strategies during the season and games.
There are other favorites I have, too. Ashley Brown survived a car wreck and lost her mother. Addy Clift broke records in college, Emmalie Green being a musician, Larry Tucker and his two sons becoming baseball coaches in the Pitt 8 and my senior spotlight story on Emma Quintana.
I must tell of my favorite musical act of all time. John, Paul, George and Ringo have left a huge influence in my life, and as sports editor at the News-Capital. Seeing Ringo Starr in concert Sept. 1, 2018, in Tulsa is a highlight I’ll never forget.
My Big House Memories and McAlester-Ada series were what I call documentary-styled journalism, and I kept going back to the Beatles Anthology of all the interviews, data and research. These series were like albums, and the stories like songs, to me.
I carpooled with my colleague, Derrick James, to road McAlester football games this season. He was so kind to have the Beatles Channel on satellite radio in his car. I belted out the words to their songs at the top of my lungs.
“All I’ve Got to Do” was playing when we pulled into the parking lot Sept. 27 at Durant. He shut off the car mid-song, and I began singing the next lyrics by myself as I got out of the car.
I’d love to say “I’ll Be Back.” You know I hate to leave you, but to paraphrase them, I’d like to thank you once again. It’s getting very near “The End” — where the love you take is equal to the love you make.
I’d like to say thank you and I hope I passed the audition.