Remember that scene from the movie Field of Dreams where young Karin Kinsella falls from the bleachers next to the baseball diamond on the Kinsella farm? Among the players on the field that day was Archie “Moonlight” Graham, who, after a very short baseball career, became a successful medical doctor. In the scene, Graham, still a young ballplayer, sees Karin fall to the ground and heads over to offer his help. But at the threshold between the baseball diamond and the patch of grass where Karin lay, Graham pauses for a moment. He realizes that if he crosses the threshold to become a physician, he can never go back to being a baseball player.
I feel like I’m at a similar crossroads in my own career. Barring an unexpected reversal, my wife and I will be selling our home and leaving Morgan in the next couple of months. When we hop into that moving van, I will also be leaving my journalism career behind. And like Moonlight Graham, the time is right. It’s time to hang up the pencil.
Since 1992, I’ve been a freelance sports journalist, writing primarily for the Standard-Examiner in Ogden. I’ve also written for the Deseret News as well as occasional articles for publications around the western United States.
Most recently, I’ve been writing for the Morgan County News. Last spring, news editor Deanne Winterton reached out to me to ask if I would consider doing some sports coverage of Morgan High athletics. Deanne and I have known each other for more than 20 years. In the mid-1990s, we worked together in the circulation department at the Standard-Examiner, and occasionally, we’d hang out in the parking lot after work and talk about how we would change the world of journalism and what we would do if we were the owners of a newspaper.
I wanted to be a reporter from the time I was a little kid. When I got to college, I immediately joined the staff of the student newspaper, and a career was born. Unfortunately, I learned rather quickly that the vast majority of journalists don’t make very much money. So I became a freelance writer instead and found other full-time employment to keep food on the table.
But for 25 years, I’ve written articles about virtually every sport imaginable and have met some wonderful, interesting, and inspirational people. I’ve also met some people I’d rather not meet again. I really have no idea how many sporting events I’ve been to or how many articles I’ve written, but a safe estimate is at least 2,500. I’ve covered everything from junior high football to a wide range of college sports; from professional hockey to minor league baseball; and from XTERRA triathlons to the NBA, and have traveled all over the state to do it. But the most satisfying part of my writing career, by far, has been my coverage of Morgan High sports.
Over the last quarter century, I’ve written literally hundreds of newspaper articles about Morgan High School. One of the first MHS games I attended was a boys’ basketball game between the Trojans and Grantsville in around 1994. The Trojans were led by confident and talented guard Blake Nelson. Little did I know then that I would one day marry one of Nelson’s classmates.
I’ve been there for more than a dozen state championships, many of them by Morgan’s volleyball team, and countless other thrilling or heartbreaking finishes. Remember the Morgan-Union basketball playoff game in 2002? Gut-wrenching! I tried to interview Jim Wiscombe after the game and he wanted nothing to do with me. (I’m pleased to report that we’re now on speaking terms and Wiscombe finally got his first state title 11 years later. I was there for that, too.)
Because of my writing career, I’ve been able to associate with some of the best people in the world, many of whom live right here in Morgan County. At MHS, I’ve rubbed shoulders with some of the finest coaches in the business. Liz and Jim Wiscombe, Kovi Christiansen, Renn Hoopes, and Brad Matthews are a few that I’ve known for many years and I’m privileged to call them friends.
And the athletes! Morgan has produced some incredible talent. I’ve had the honor of watching almost whole families go through the high school sports programs. From the Evans kids to the Blazzards; from the Randalls to the Saunders; from the Kinseys to the Garfields; from the Skinners to the Miles. The list just goes on and on.
When I consider all the coaches, players, athletic directors, trainers, referees, scorekeepers, teachers, administrators, sports information directors, parents, fans, and fellow journalists I’ve encountered over the years, I admit that it’s the association with all these people that has kept me going. That’s the part of the job I will miss the most.
But as basketball season came to a conclusion last week, I happily turned off my recorder, put away my camera, closed up my notebook, and called it a career (even if it was only a part-time one).
Unlike Moonlight Graham, I will not be crossing the threshold into a new profession; I’m plenty busy with my regular job. But the next time you see me at a basketball, football or volleyball game, I will simply be a fan. After 25 years, I’m ready.