It wasn't exactly in the cards for me to work at the Journal Gazette & Times-Courier. I did see the ad for the job on journalismjobs.com and I did consider it because I always wanted to be the beat writer for an NCAA Division I school. However, I had only been in Muscatine for about seven months. It was too early to go job hunting.
Well, the universe had other plans. There were layoffs at the paper in Muscatine and that left me looking for another job. It didn't take me long to send my resume and cover letter to Penny Weaver at the JG-TC. A couple of weeks later, I was back in the business when I was hired at the JG-TC.
It was an interesting move for me because I had only ever been in the state of Illinois once and that was just barely crossing the river to watch a couple of high school basketball games in Rock Island. Not only would I be moving to Illinois, I was moving deep into the middle of Illinois.
I won't lie, it was an adjustment. Jeff Owens has had no shortage of Iowa jokes ... but we've never had a governor in Iowa go to jail, so that's helped with the comebacks.
I've enjoyed my time in Coles County. I've enjoyed getting to know the people, the players and coaches in the area. I've had a lot of fun here, and I've had the pleasure to cover a lot of good games involving Eastern Illinois, Mattoon High School, Charleston High School and Lake Land College.
But it's time for a new chapter in my life. After three-and-a-half years here in Coles County, I have the opportunity to move on. A couple of weeks ago, I accepted the sports editor position with the Sioux City Journal. It was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. I have so many friends and family in that area (I am a groomsman in a friend's wedding in May) and it's a chance to be an editor at the main paper in Western Iowa.
That doesn't mean that it has been easy packing up here. There were a lot of goodbyes, a good amount of tough goodbyes. And still some thank-you's I need to say.
Thank you to Penny and the rest of the JG-TC staff. It was a pleasure to work at the JG-TC. Penny gave me a lot of leeway to let me cover a lot of things and write a good amount of stories. Mike Monahan was great to work with and he does a great job of covering the area. From the rest of the newsroom staff and those on the advertising side and the stringers and part-timers I would work with, it was a pleasure.
Thank you to the EIU athletic department. I was able to cover a good amount of EIU games with the help of Rich Moser. He allowed me to travel with him and Mike Bradd and Jack Ashmore, allowing me to see places such as Nashville or Oxford, Ohio. They know the right spots to eat and it was always great chatting with them on trips. I've never met anyone who works as hard in this industry as Rich, either. Athletic director Tom Michael always answered my questions and was great to talk to. The coaches always answered their phones when I called to help with previews or features. I loved covering EIU athletics and the Ohio Valley Conference.
Also a thank you to the other coaches around the OVC. They didn't have to answer my questions but they did during media days or teleconferences. Whenever I needed something from the OVC, Kyle Schwartz was there to help. Plus he allowed me other opportunities such as voting for FCS All-Americans. It was a pleasure to do that.
Thank you to all of the coaches at CHS and MHS along with athletic directors Dave Vieth, Norm Garrett and Jim Wood. I was an outsider coming in after decades of working with others who were from the area. But the coaches were willing to talk to me about anything from the beginning and the players were equally easy to deal with. I mean, I walked into a pretty good situation with Lauren Chappell going for her third state championship. I ended up covering three state title teams and a few individual titles, so it's been a pretty good run of athletics here in Coles County.
Thank you to Lake Land. It was my first time covering a junior college and it probably showed many times but I learned a lot from it. It was fun seeing the amount of area talent that succeeded at Lake Land. Plus their athletics gave me plenty to write about. At some point, Clausen's name will be up there in the rafters as part of the Hall of Fame ... once he figures out the copier. It's a great community college with great athletics.
If I left anyone out, I apologize. I knew I was going to. So if I missed you in this column, a thank you to you as well. Thank you Coles County. It's been a fun ride and whoever comes in next gets a great group to work with.