I’m not sure how to do this; I’ve never done it before.
How do you say goodbye to the only company you’ve ever known and worked for? How do you leave a town in which you spent nearly a third of your life?
I came to Tyler fresh out of college at Texas A&M. Over the past nine years I’ve served as a sports reporter for the Tyler Morning Telegraph , first covering TAPPS schools then adding John Tyler to my beat.
But Wednesday was my last day with the Tyler Paper. Ahead is a new chapter in my life. I’ll be taking a new writing job in Boulder, Colorado, an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
In nearly a decade in the Rose City I’ve covered hundreds of great players and scores of unforgettable games.
I remember the first time I covered a state champion in 2009, watching the All Saints baseball team win the TAPPS 3A title with their leader Bobby Sterken playing despite having an appendectomy two days prior.
I recall watching Patrick Mahomes throw for 605 yards in a playoff game for Whitehouse, JT pole vaulter Jesse Darden qualify for regionals despite breaking his teeth, Johnny Manziel torch Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl fresh off his Heisman Trophy victory and, sadly, the final Texas-Texas A&M football game.
I enjoyed covering wonderful teams like the Bishop Gorman girls basketball team from 2009-13, the two-time state champion Bullard Brook Hill Guard baseball team, the consistently great Grace Community football teams, the powerhouse All Saints tennis program and, of course, the John Tyler football teams that made state semifinal appearances a regular occurrence.
I can vividly recall the play-making abilities of many fantastic athletes in Tyler, from TAPPS standouts like Grace gunslinger Taylor Stanley, Gorman’s first lady of basketball Michelle Obach, All Saints sharpshooter Aston Francis and Brook Hill’s diamond duo of J.B. Moss and A.J. Minter to the countless superb players from John Tyler. Student-athletes like the entertaining Pierre Leonard, the indefatigable Braylon Jones and the incredible Bryson Smith made covering JT football each week in the fall a pleasure.
But, as in most things, it’s the people you remember most, from my first assignment previewing Corey Rose’s brand new Tyler Junior College girls soccer program to my final story on the All-East Texas Basketball Team (coming Sunday).
I’ll never forget the story of Macy Chenevert, the Gorman basketball player who led her team in scoring despite undergoing radiation treatments for cancer, which ultimately took her life, or Grace Knight, the Gorman cross country runner who doesn’t let cystic fibrosis slow her down.
I’ll always be thankful for the time coaches have given me throughout the years, from TAPPS football coaches like Grace’s Mike Maddox for my weekly TAPPS Notebook to John Tyler’s Lion King Ricklan Holmes, always willing to spare a few moments for the media, not to mention athletic directors like All Saints’ Eddie Francis and Greg Priest of TISD.
I couldn’t begin to name all the coaches and athletes I’ve had the pleasure of working with in my time here, people who have shared their stories with me so I can share them with you, the reader.
I won’t forget all of my fellow Tyler Paper scribes like Joe Buie, Shane Stark and the still-going Chris Parry, plus all my other co-workers around the office throughout the years.
Most of all I’ll remember Sports Editor Phil Hicks, for whom I’ll always be thankful for bringing me aboard despite being an Aggie. Few are as lucky as I am to have worked under someone like him for the better part of nine years.
So, this is a farewell to Tyler, Texas, my home since 2008.
I can’t say I’ll miss the oddly overcrowded traffic on Broadway or the overpopulation of Racquet & Jog T-shirts, but I have enjoyed living here and would not be averse to returning one day should my path bring me back.
It’s bittersweet to say goodbye. As excited as I am about my new venture, I can’t help but feel a twinge of sadness for what - and who - I’m leaving behind.
I wish the best to the city of Tyler, to the high school teams, players and coaches, to the new Tyler FC, to every young athlete with aspirations of becoming the next Earl Campbell.
Most of all, I wish the best for the people at the Tyler Paper and the readers who have given me nine unforgettable years.