A little over two weeks ago, I made the hardest decision of my professional career — I notified my managing editor that I would be leaving The Journal at the end of January.
My two years and five months at The Journal has been some of the most rewarding time of my life. I’ve worked with friends and covered two great high schools.
When Michael Jordan retired for the first time in 1993, he said, “I’ve always stressed that … when I lose the sense of motivation and the sense to prove something as a basketball player, it’s time for me to move away from the game of basketball. It’s not because I don’t love the game, I love the game of basketball — I always will. I just feel that at this particular time in my career, I’ve reached the pinnacle of my career. I’ve achieved a lot in that short amount of time, if you want to call it short, but I just feel that I don’t have anything else to myself to prove.”
My feelings this past Monday morning echoed Jordan’s. Following another great showing at the Kentucky Press Association Excellence in Newspapers awards ceremony last Friday, I don’t feel like I have anything else to prove to myself or anyone.
On one of my first days here at The Journal, I met Tommy Cobb, and he would be the first of many in the community that I would come to know. Jessamine County has always been kind to me, from Neil Howard and Paul Sawyer talking to me at soccer games to Nicholasville Mayor Russ Meyer giving me a bottle of water on a hot August day covering boys’ golf to Doug Fain helping me out on a special project.
I’ve had the chance to cover some of the biggest moments in area sports — East Jessamine softball going to state for the first time, West Jessamine girls’ soccer going to state twice, East boys’ basketball winning the district and West boys’ golf winning a state title.
As I told West volleyball coach Debbie Rose in the fall, “It’s much more enjoyable to cover a 27-win team than a four-win team,” a compliment to the change I saw her bring to the program. When Jessamine County sports thrived, so did I. I’ve had the chance to win several Kentucky Press Association Awards while working here. My success wasn’t based on my talents but on the talents of athletes like Sean Donaldson, Jordan Redd, Abby Wiggins and Emily Underwood.
One of the hardest parts of walking away now is that I won’t get to be there to see how far this year’s basketball, baseball and softball teams can go. West may be in line for another trip to Rupp, and East girls’ basketball may get its first winning season in more than a decade. West baseball could have another record season, and East softball could find itself in Owensboro for the second time in three years.
Jessamine County athletics will continue to thrive under the direction of Ken Cox. Cox has always been an ally of mine in the board of education, sending encouraging emails and helping me get the right story to the readers.
At the school level, Daniel Sandlin and Dean Geary have always been a quick email or text away if I had a question about a game being canceled or even the spelling of an athlete’s name.
Outside of the office, I could always count on the students at the high schools to hold me accountable. If I called someone a senior instead of a junior, I heard about it. If I said the lead in the game was nine points instead of eight points, I heard about it. And when I wrote a column that half the county disagreed with, it was former West Jessamine student Haley Henderson who called me out in a clever letter to the editor instead of yelling things from a student section or talking behind my back — and I respected her for that.
I feel I’ve done all I can do at The Journal, and the time and opportunity is right to move on.
The sports section and paper are in great standing due to the best newsroom in the state — as proven this past weekend. The editor and reporters care about Jessamine County and strive to bring it as much information as it can on a daily basis.
In Jordan’s Hall of Fame enshrinement speech, the first person he mentions is Scottie Pippen.
“In all the videos, you never just saw me; you saw Scottie Pippen — every championship I won,” he said.
I had my Scottie Pippen as well — Jonathan Kleppinger. He was instrumental in me getting a job with The Journal and was with me at every East vs. West game, every big district or region tournament game and state championships in Owensboro, Louisville and Lexington. I could have never made it without his help on a daily basis.
I’m sure I’ll see you all again, perhaps when Ballard comes to town. But don’t be surprised if you see me at a random East or West game one Friday night.