I’m not sure how many of you have ever had to make a farewell column not seem like a meandering disaster, but I’m assuming it’s not many.
That being said, take my word for it, it’s not easy.
So rather than make this a meandering disaster, I’ll make a meandering disaster with bullet points.
– First things first, this is my final column at the Times Herald. On Monday, I start a new job as a Digital Content and Communications Specialist at St. Clair County Community College. So you’re not fully rid of me, and if you follow me on social media, you’re probably only going to see more of me.
– I have loved my job at the Times Herald. In many ways, this is the greatest job there is. They pay me to go to sporting events and write about them. It’s amazing.
– I have loved this job because the people I worked for were amazing. That starts, of course, with Jim Whymer, who was my boss for six of the 9 ½ years I was at the Times Herald. Jim was the greatest boss you could ask for, because you could see in his day-to-day work that he cared about what he was doing as much or more than anyone. He made me want to be better, not because if I failed he would yell at me, but because his passion for this was contagious.
– The three editors during my time here – the late Jeanie Ruddick, Judith McLean and Michael Eckert – were amazing, as well. They pushed me and everyone else in the newsroom to be better, and they weren’t afraid to let me chase a big idea, even if there was no guarantee it would work. Their support was incredible.
– For the past nine years, Joseph Hayes has been right here with me. We’ve seen a lot change here, and on more than one occasion had to make this work with a two-man staff. I consider him a great friend, and I’m thankful for the time we have had to work with one another.
– For the past year and a half, Matt Sheehan has jolted this sports desk with energy. His passion for this job reminds me of a young me, and that may be selling Matt short. He’s going to do great things for this newspaper.
– Our news desk is incredible, and I can’t get over how much work they put in every day, chasing down stories. You should appreciate the work that Beth LeBlanc, Bob Gross, Nicole Hayden, Syeda Fergson and Jackie Smith do, because – led by the remarkable Liz Shepard – they’re holding the people who make decisions about your life accountable. Jeff Smith is one of the finest newspaper photographers I have ever known, and Andrew Jowett is bursting with ideas to make great multimedia experiences for you the readers. You’re all lucky to have these people here.
– Mark Rummel is the kindest, hardest working person I know. He’s behind the scenes now, but he puts more into this newspaper than probably any of us.
– I have loved this job because I love high school sports. Watching communities come together to support their own is a very special thing. I wish I had better words to describe it, but I don’t. It’s just special.
– I have loved this job because I love your kids. Yes, that sound strange, but while doing this job, I couldn’t help but care for the kids I was covering. I loved watching them succeed, I hurt for them when they failed. I enjoyed getting to know them through interviews and in recent years through social media. Those kids are the reason I put so much into this job. You have good kids, and they’re going to be successful people. You should all be proud.
– I have loved this job because I have met so many great people that I now consider great friends. When you’re new to an area, as I was in 2006, there’s no better way to get to know people than to call them up and ask them questions. But seriously, the Blue Water Area has been so kind to me from the beginning, and I’m proud to call it my home, and the place where I will raise my children.
– There are so many people that I should thank for making this an incredible experience. There are so many moments that I will remember for the rest of my life that I wouldn’t have been able to experience if not for this job. But this has already been enough of a meandering disaster.
So thank you, all of you, for reading. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. I’ll see you around.
You can still follow Paul Costanzo on Twitter @PaulCostanzo, or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.