Column: Line Drives — Stay is longer than was expected

[This is my column in the Thanksgiving — Nov. 25 — issue of The Commercial Review.]

This was supposed to be a stepping-stone.

My time here was going to be brief.

I’d come to Jay County, work for a year or two and then hit the road, moving on to someplace else to start over again. Work my way up the sports writing ladder.

My dream, after all, is to cover professional baseball on a daily basis.

But sometimes, plans don’t work out as envisioned.

I moved here two and a half years ago, and I never thought I would make it as long as I have.

I was going to kick-start my career — and this is a career, not just a job — gain valuable experience and then scream sayonara from a moving van as I drove into the sunset.

But something happened.
You.

As I wrote more about the community, I became more curious of it.

As I followed each team closely, I became more supportive of it.

As I learned more and more about the community, I became part of it.

That’s why I’m still here.
You.

Through the long road trips — Logansport on a Tuesday for regional soccer; Royal Center on a Friday for semi-state football; a Wednesday trip to Springfield, Ohio, for baseball regional tournament; or four trips to and from Fort Wayne for baseball and softball sectional tournaments — every mile has been worthwhile.

It’s the third week in August, attempting to put together a 20-page fall sports preview section, when I tend to write more than I should and have to cut words I don’t want to for the sake of making the section perfect.

Ask any co-worker who has seen me take on that project. The weekend before it goes to press, I might as well sleep in the office.

It’s the roughly two weeks before Thanksgiving when, aside from covering anything that is going on at the time, I have to schedule team interviews and photos, talk to coaches for preview stories, write said preview stories all the while writing thousands of words for the issue this column appears in.

But in the end, the work is warranted. At the end of those stressful times, I get to share with thousands of readers two projects I am proud to have had a hand in, or completely put together.

That’s why I’m still here.
You.

It’s working late on a Friday night covering a football or basketball game, and then waking up hours later to cover a cross country meet, or a wrestling tournament, or a swimming invitational.

There are stretches, generally from the middle of August until June, when I don’t get to sleep in Saturday mornings. Most of the time I work Sundays too, to write about the previous day’s happenings and prepare myself for the week.

There is a difference between a job and a career.

A job is something you have to do to pay the bills. A career is something you want to do; it just so happens that it pays the bills. I don’t have to be here. I want to be here.

I had this conversation with a handful of coworkers Monday. It was difficult for me to come up with the last week during which I did not work more than 40 hours. I was able to track it down, and the last time it happened was the end of July.

Sure, the hours are long, and it may seem as if I’m always “working,” but — this isn’t the first time I’ve said this — I feel as if I have yet to actually “work” a day in 2 1/2 years. And I truly mean it. I’m blessed to have this career. I love what I do.

It’s why I’m still here.
You.

Then there are the games, meets and matches I get to go to daily.

It’s witnessing school-record win streaks. Also, being there for first appearances, such as in the playoffs, regional tournaments, district tournaments, and, as in the case with Fort Recovery, baseball and football state tournaments.

It’s writing about state medals, improbable upsets and comeback stories. It’s more than just writing about them, but also being behind the camera to capture those moments.

When I began this career, I wasn’t very good at photography. I honestly enjoyed the writing more.

My how things change.

There’s not much more satisfying than capturing a photo of a great catch, a perfect header, a season-saving stop on a penalty kick or the moment a wrestler wins the state championship after losing in the final match the previous two years.

The fun, the joy and the excitement are what make those instances the best.

That’s why I’m still here.
For those moments.
For you.

Many of my college classmates have done the same thing I am doing, starting at a small newspaper and then moving on to bigger and better things.

When they undertake a new position, especially one that covers big-time sports, I always say to myself, “Man, it would be cool if that was me.”

But in reality, I don’t want to be in their shoes. I don’t want to do what they do, because I have many more stories to tell and moments to capture in this area.

It’s why I’m still here.
You.

And for you, I am thankful.

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