Before I go any further, I’ll put all of Powell at ease: I don’t have a problem with rodeo (cue applause).
What I do have, however, is an unbridled appreciation for small-town communities and their sports. Having spent five years living in rural Chenoa, Ill., a town of about 1,700 residents, I get it. Sports matter here, and fans eat, sleep and breathe their prep athletics. Count me amongst you.
Something else I learned quickly during my time in Chenoa is that, in smaller towns, unfamiliar faces don’t stay that way for long. And I hope to be apart of that same transition in Powell, preferably sooner rather than later.
Residing in central Illinois for a large chunk of my 25 years, there wasn’t much I hadn’t seen or experienced by the time I finally packed up my car to head west on Monday. To say that I felt a little out of place when I pulled up to my new home Tuesday morning would be a grand understatement.
In about 48 hours, I’ve introduced myself to a few of the businesses in town, shaken a few hands and exchanged a few lines of small talk. I hope that trend, and then some, will soon extend to all of you: athletes, coaches, officials, administrators, fans, parents ... readers.
You are what drew me here and the reason I’ll stay.
You might be wondering why the Tribune chose someone 1,300 miles away to take over its sports section. That was another mirror inquiry before I left for my first day Wednesday. I’d like to tell you it’s because of my boyish good looks (too much mirror time), but I’ll spare you the charm and instead blame it on my experiences combined with a deep passion for writing.
In a little more than three years of professional journalism, I’ve just about done it all. Besides rodeo (I’ll learn), there isn’t much I haven’t covered in the sports world — high school girls badminton — feel better?
I’ve walked with the pros, the semi-pros, the wannabe pros and pretty much everyone else in between. But like a loyal dog to its owner, I always come back to high school sports.
And how could I not? I’m here because of prep athletes. My career has thrived because of them.
And like the athletes at Powell High School, who’ve cultivated a history of success that should draw envy from every school in the nation, I’m not sure I’d be OK with anything changing in the future.
And for now, it won’t. It took way too much time cramming my belongings into my Pontiac Sunfire like a makeshift Tetris puzzle. Have you seen a Sunfire? I’m lucky I had a place to sit.
I’m even luckier (and honored) to have been given a chair here at the Tribune to share my love of sports with all of you.