A few years ago, on a blog that no longer exists, I counted down my top 10 favorite moments that I had covered as a sports reporter for the Wenatchee World.
This week, I am moved to look back again. Tuesday, September 4 will be my final day at the Wenatchee World after nearly six years of chronicling high school sports, the AppleSox, the Wild, the Venom, the Fire and recreactional sports here in North Central Washington.
The good people in the athletic department at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, have given me an opportunity to be a sports information director, just like Steve Maher gave a kid from the great state of New Jersey an opportunity in August of 2006.
I am deeply humbled and flattered by their faith in me, and though it pains me to leave a place that I have come to call my home, it's the right move for myself and my beautiful wife Rochelle, who will always be my favorite thing about Wenatchee.
So, if you'll indulge me in a brief bit of self-importance, I'd like to thank and acknowledge the people who have made these last six years so special for me, both in the office and at the games.
AT THE WORLD: Thanks first and foremost to Brent Stecker, Doug Flanagan, Joe Pflueger — your current Wenatchee World sports team — and team members past Corey Voegele, Eric Gordon, Rob Ollikainen, Christian Knight. We worked long hours together, put out tabs together, fought deadline together, stayed way too late together, watched games together, laughed together, came up with nicknames together and laughed together again. For a long time, I've wished our readers could hang out in the office one Friday or Saturday night and see the work that goes into producing the sports section day after day. We've done things together that I didn't think were possible given our numbers and time restrictions. You're all journalists and friends of the highest order. I will miss you most of all.
Thanks also to the Woods family, Cal Fitzsimmons, John Taylor and other bosses over the years that let us do our thing as best we could. A special thanks to our photographers: Don Seabrook and Mike Bonnicksen now, Kathryn Stevens and Kelly Gillin then, for sharing our dedication to publicizing the athletic goings-on in our area. You go above and beyond week after week to help us tell our stories. Thank you.
THE COACHES: To the men and women that give so many hours of themselves, away from their families, to the noblest of causes: molding young men and women into successful athletes on the field and successful people in the classroom and in life. You have my utmost respect and admiration for that alone, but I thank you for making time for me on the bus, after practice, after games and on your weekends to help me do my job. It was greatly appreciated.
To Scott Devereaux (the finest leader of young men I have ever had the pleasure of being around), Ed Knaggs (our chats in the dugout were enlightening and so much fun), Nigel Hunter (thank you for welcoming a poor homesick guy into your family for Thanksgiving), Ron Stone, Robin Kansky, Ed and Susan Valdez, James Elwyn, LeAnne McGahuey, Bob Bullis, Brent Grothe, Ron Zielinski, Norm Armstrong, Dennis Tronson (I learned something every time we spoke), Dave Jagla, Kevin Sellers, Todd Fryhover, Carl Haberberger, the Skaz, Don Whipple, Ken Hoyt, Jay Mills, Brandon Evenson (what a guy, and what a coach), Aaron Ross, Rob Hippi, Sean Winston, Greg Franz (NCW's Dean Smith), Rachel Bromiley-Goetz, and all the others at the 22 schools across NCW and WVC that I spoke with over the phone and in person after the thousands of games I've covered. Thank you all.
THE ATHLETES: Throughout my six years covering prep sports for the World, I've always tried to keep in the back of my mind that the student-athletes I pester for interviews before and after practice, after games — wins and losses — were 15-18 year-old kids that might not be accustomed to a reporter bugging them with questions after a season or career-ending loss. It is in this spirit that I so greatly appreciate the time, thoughtfulness and understanding of these fine young people. I have met and spoken to hundreds of prep athletes over the years, and have been moved by not only their on-field excellence, but their passion, dedication, spirit and grace. Prep sports fans in the Wenatchee Valley can be very proud of the young men and women that represent our high schools on the field of play. I will always remember:
The unrelenting drive and desire of my favorite prep athlete of all time (and, if anyone has any sense, the future head coach of Wenatchee boys' basketball) Kam Douglass. The ultimate competitor.
The peerless dominance of Joe Harris, Patrick Simon, Isaiah Brandt-Sims, Jaicee Harris, Katie Tribley, Austin Bryan, Dani Hallberg, Mike Marboe, Nick Gale, Dustin Driver, Angel Guerra and Chandler Smith. Each of you have taken my breath away with your abilities on the court, field and track. I will tell my kids I watched you all perform.
The delightfully wacky and intensely self-assured Audrey Ketcham.
The original 81, Kris Carlson, and his running mate, Josh Nees.
The ultimate dynamic duo: Jacob and Lucas Sealby. I'm sorry for all the times I mixed you up.
The grit and consistency of Kellen Drake, Erik Magnussen, Katie Covey, Haylee Douglass, Krayson and Isaac Gates, Nick Hunt, Michaela George.
The effortless grace of Hanna Gustafsson, Blair Dorn, Chris Woodard, Jordyn Bailey and Wade Gebbers. Phenomenal athletes, better people.
And finally the custodians at Wenatchee High School, who so graciously folded my coat and gently set it on the bleachers while you broke down the press table after all those basketball games and wrestling matches. You bet I noticed.
Take care Wenatchee, and be well. --Brian