Well, it's been fun.
Nearly three years with the West Fargo Pioneer and more than six-and-a-half years with Forum Communications Co. overall, and I'm heading off on a new path.
Other than stints in retail and concrete work, the newspaper business is all I know. Interviews, reporting, writing, editing, deadlines - the whole works.
But you know what they say about opportunity knocking.
In a somewhat serendipitous turn of events, I've found myself heading in a fresh, fascinating direction that involves a field of work near and dear to my heart.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a wee bit anxious, but it's more of a nervous excitement than anything else.
Change is seldom easy, after all.
Working for the Pioneer has been a completely worthwhile and eye-opening experience. Transferring from the high-pressure stress of the Grand Forks Herald (a worthwhile and eye-opening experience, in and of itself) to the slightly more laid-back lope of a weekly paper sure was pleasant.
And I felt that our staff of dedicated journalists always did its best to put out the highest quality publication, week-in and week-out.
I'm certain that in my absence, they still will.
All was not roses, mind you. It seems that, even with the best of intentions, there is always someone, somewhere who doesn't like what you are doing or how you are doing it.
I suppose every job is like that in some respects - to assume my next career will not have some element of this would be extremely naïve - but it seems as if readers are much more apt to give a journalist a piece of their mind than, let's say, a city engineer or a nurse.
Oh well, I'll chalk up those terse chats as constructive criticism and nothing more; brief, insignificant blemishes on an otherwise splendid experience.
Therefore, I'd like to end this with a few heartfelt thoughts:
To the coaches, thanks for always having the words to say, even if I didn't always ask the right questions. And it's nice to know that in this day and age of caller ID, I'm sure nobody ever screened my call - pretty sure, anyway.
To the players, thanks for entertaining the whims of your weekly paper's greenhorn sports editor. We, at the Pioneer, may not be as glamorous as our bigger brother, but are articles look just as good on grandma's fridge.
To the fans - even the ones who enjoyed calling to let me know what I'd missed and where I could stick the correction - thanks for the patience. I hope we covered as much West Fargo sports as you could handle, despite any shortcomings. And thanks for the myriad of updates and submitted material. Often the only way I found out about club sports results or the accolades of a graduated player were through tips from faithful readers.
And finally, thanks to the great people at the West Fargo Pioneer: Karen Huber, Jamie Grant, Will Foss and Carrie Snyder. We were a small, tight-knit group that often behaved more like family than coworkers. You made coming to work a lot more fun than it should have been.
I have to say one last thing: for anyone who has preconceived notions about a given sport, try actually attending a game.
For instance, and in full disclosure, I never had the highest regard for wrestling growing up, especially in a school where hockey dominated. But I went to a few matches after taking over the Pioneer's sports department, and my eyes were opened.
The same can be said for other sports, as well. There is entertainment, physical adeptness and sportsmanship in all manner of athletics.
No excuse not to check in on the Packers, once and a while.
And if you can't, well I guess that's what the Pioneer is for.