Do what you need to do.
Force me to wear a pink backpack. Tie me to a field goal post and drench me with ice-cold Gatorade. Make me go on the morning coffee run. Then the afternoon run. Initiate me as you see fit. I’m the new guy.
Some things have remained the same since I started my first column as a sports reporter for The Sparks Tribune with those seven sentences on Sept. 5, 2013. The headline for the top sports story in that week’s issue? Smokescreen: Rail City’s high school football programs still dealing with smoky skies.
More has changed.
You certainly can’t make jokes about initiation anymore. I later wrote in my introductory column about my abode on an air mattress under a pool table at my brother’s college house. I’m glad to share that I eventually found a more stable home and my roof was not made of felt. The Sparks Tribune was sold and I was promoted to sports editor by default. Our newspaper moved from its former office on Victorian Square that I’m 98 percent sure was haunted.
I dabbled in radio, eventually working my way up to a live weekly show on ESPN Radio 94.5 FM. I recorded my 74th show last week.
The 75th show on Friday will be my last. It will also be final day serving as the sports editor of this newspaper.
In a lot of ways, writing for The Sparks Tribune was a dream job out of college. I always told people, when asked how it was I earned a living, I got paid to watch sports. And that wasn’t a lie.
I got to cover one of the best high school football programs in the state (Reed). I got to rip on Gorman. I got to watch Nevada basketball rise from the ashes. I went to my first NCAA Tournament basketball game, and went for free! (With a credential). I interviewed Steve Young and Brian Urlacher on live radio.
I met and worked for amazing people. And I wrote for some too.
Of all the perks of my job(s) the last four years, writing for you will be what I remember most. I won’t recall the score of a particular basketball game. Names and jersey numbers and stats will fade. I won’t reminisce on frenzied atmospheres. However, there was some fun had in Lawlor this winter. And I won’t miss standing on the sidelines in November as the sensation in my extremities fades.
Nope. What I will miss most is sitting in a three-quarters-empty gym on a random Tuesday night and speaking with the intermittent grateful stranger. Journalism is a thankless career path and I have bad news for those considering it for the gratitude. Or the money.
So, when I was occasionally approached and told how much something I wrote was appreciated, it made the frustrations of this industry dissipate but for a moment. It meant I was doing something that mattered.
I was gifted one final moment like that last week covering a volleyball game. An individual I had never met sat next me and shared their appreciation of something I had written about their son. It was the first instance that was bittersweet, because I resigned from my position just days earlier.
That exchange, and others like it, are what I will take from the amazing opportunity I had at The Sparks Tribune.
There are countless people I need to thank and stories to share, but not nearly enough room, or time, to do so. To those who have helped me along the way, thank you. You know who you are.
To those who read me, thank you. You welcomed me as a fresh-out-of college graduate in 2013 and made this job worth doing.
I look forward to becoming a member of this community, I began to close my introductory column with.
Until then, I will be walking on egg shells and ready dodge any of you with a cooler of Gatorade. At least until I’m not the new guy anymore.
I think I’m finally safe from the Gatorade.
Nathan can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. His weekly column, ‘Shoup Shots,’ was named the best column in the state of Nevada (community division) by the Nevada Press Association. It ran in the hard copy of the Sparks Tribune every Wednesday morning. Nathan’s weekly radio show aired Fridays at noon on ESPN Radio 94.5 FM.