Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Juliet that “parting is such sweet sorrow.”
Come Friday, I think I might finally understand what that phrase really means.
After nearly 10 years as a full-time journalist - 11 if you count the time I was working at the college paper too - I will put away my reporter’s notebook and recorder and try my hand at something new. I am excited for the opportunity ahead but I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to share what the past decade plus has been for me and what role each of you have played in it.
When I moved to Texas in 2002 from Miami, I never imagined I would be blessed with the life I have today. I knew a grand total of three people here and two were family. My plan was not to stay more than a few months but like I’ve been told by several people, Texas has a way of growing on you and makes it hard to leave.
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At the time, I found a job at a college bookstore doing accounting but when that ended in fall of 2004, I was at a crossroads. Do I find “just another job” or do I pursue my passion of writing and becoming a sports reporter like I had wanted to for years? At 34, I wasn’t sure if I belonged back in school but I pushed all those fears aside and enrolled at The University of Texas-Arlington.
It was the best decision I ever made.
For the next two years or so, I worked full-time at The Shorthorn - UTA’s award-winning student-produced paper - and carried a full class load. I also worked part-time at WBAP and did my best to make ends meet while trying to pursue my dream of covering sports for a living.
In the summer of 2005, that dream became a reality when an opportunity to work in the sports department at the Star-Telegram was presented to me. It wasn’t a writing position but it got me in the door and I happily worked 32 hours a week with one of the best group of folks I could’ve asked for.
But as comfortable as we get with things, sometimes the only thing we can be sure of is that change is coming. Shortly before my one-year anniversary, the paper was sold and I was told that there was a pretty good chance I could lose my position but that one of the weekly papers out in Weatherford needed a sports editor if I was interested.
Honestly, I didn’t have a clue where Weatherford was as I lived in Grapevine and Fort Worth was about the furthest I had been but when you are faced with possibly losing what you’ve worked so hard for or driving 55 miles each way, you do what you gotta do. I met with publisher Lance Winter and former editor Terry Evans and the rest, as they say, is history.
For two and a half years, I wrote about sports and education and whatever else came across the desk that needed writing before change once again reared its head and I was transferred and whisked off to work as the assistant sports editor for the Keller Citizen. I was fortunate to work with Stephen English and a host of other fantastic people, many of whom I must sadly say are no longer with the paper, for the next 18 months.
Then came the phone call that changed the course of the past five years of my life. I was told I would be returning to Weatherford. Not going to lie, I wasn’t happy about it at first. After all, I was working mostly from home and when I did have to go to the office, I was a mere 10 miles away. Now, I would have to travel 40 miles each way (at least I had moved to North Fort Worth by this time) and I was still working on finishing my second bachelors degree at UTA.
But, the Man upstairs knew what I needed and what was best for me and the past few years have allowed me to develop some of my most-cherished friendships and memories. all while covering a myriad of things I never would’ve otherwise had the chance to do had I dug my heels in and refused the assignment.
Fast forward to today and it’s no secret that this business I got into has changed. I still believe in the core values of what journalism was intended to be but I think we have lost the delivery method and, more importantly, the trust and respect of readers like you who count on us to bring you the news. I do hope that it gets figured out because one of my proudest moments will always be finally having a front-page story in the Star-Telegram shortly after the tornado in Moore, Okla., in 2013. My only regret is that my father wasn’t alive to see it. He always told me that if it was on the front page, it was the most important news of the day and I have never been more humbled by any story than I was with that one.
I wish I could name in this column all the people who have touched me but I know I would forget so many and I would feel awful about that. But know that while I am leaving the paper, I will still be in Weatherford so I hope to see you in town and I hope you don’t hesitate to say hello.
Thank you, Parker County, I will see you soon.