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Calling a timeout

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

It’s been said community journalism is not a job but a calling. It’s been my calling for more than 20 years, but those days are coming to an end. This is my last week at The Brunswick Beacon.

When I joined the newspaper fresh out of college in August 1987, I never imagined I’d still be working here in March 2008. But I was called here, and I’ve put my heart and soul into it for two decades.

For several years as a staff writer, I covered local government and breaking news and wrote feature stories and whatever else came to the attention of our three-person news staff.

Those were formative days. I received an education unlike any I had in 12 years of grade school and four years of college. I learned a little bit about everything—more than I cared to about some things—and interacted regularly with the people who made the important decisions in this county.

My passion has always been sports, and in the fall of 1991 I was named sports editor. I’ve devoted the last 16 years of my life to this section, first on a part-time basis and later in a full-time capacity.

When I took over, sports was basically an afterthought at the Beacon. It has grown from a couple of pages in the back of classifieds to its own section that runs anywhere from 12 to 16 pages per week. We cover everything from high school and community college sports to fishing, golf and recreational activities such as bowling and church basketball.

There is a soft spot in my heart for our three high schools and Brunswick Community College. I bleed Trojan green, Cougar blue, Scorpion gold and Dolphin teal. It makes me feel good when these schools excel in athletics.

I’ve covered some great athletes and great teams, including West Brunswick’s state championship football teams of 1992 and 1993 and state championship baseball team of 2004 and North Brunswick’s state championship softball teams of 2002, 2003 and 2004.

The job took me to New York City for the 2006 NBA Draft, where I watched Cedric Simmons climb the stairs at The Theater at Madison Square Garden and shake the right hand of Commissioner David Stern.

While my focus has always been on local sports, this job gave me the opportunity to have a one-on-one interview with Bob Cousy, follow Arnold Palmer around Rivers Edge Golf Club and meet famous baseball players Gaylord Perry, Tommy John and Bucky Dent.

I am thankful to have worked for publishers and editors who gave me the freedom to cover local sports the way I thought they should be covered.

I am thankful for my predecessor, Johnny Craig, who continued to assist me years after his departure and always impressed me with his ability to find the positive in the young athletes and the events he covered.

Since 1991, we’ve been tunate to take home 14 North Carolina Press Association awards for our writing, columns and overall sports coverage.

But the real reward comes when you show up at a ballgame and the coaches and kids are glad to see you and tell you how much they appreciate your presence and coverage.

I’m proud of what the Beacon sports section has become. We have covered the games and reported the news and taken the photos and gone the extra mile that many weeklies and few dailies will go.

This sports section has been my baby. I’ve taken pride in it. It has been a reflection of me and a labor of love.

But after 16 years of writing stories by day and covering games by night, I am burned out. It hasn’t happened overnight. It’s been building for years. For me, the job of sports editor is all consuming. It’s time for a break.

It’s been an honor and a privilege to cover the young people of Brunswick County and share in their successes and failures.

I will miss it. I will miss the sense of anticipation I get whenever I walk into a ballgame with no idea of what I am about to witness. Most of all, I will miss the people. The people are always the story.