It’s not often that you find yourself feeling really comfortable just minutes into a new situation. But that is exactly what happened to me this weekend.

Literally minutes into my term as the sports editor of the Pioneer, all of my feelings of apprehension were gone. And to me, that was a huge relief.

I think we all feel a natural uneasiness that comes with starting a new job. There is the newness of moving to a new place, getting settled in and trying to get a grasp on the community.

Questions race through your mind and answers usually don’t come very quickly. Or very easily.

But as I drove into the parking lot of Madras High School Friday for a girls basketball game, my first event in this area, everything became pretty clear.

Crystal clear really.

I had to drive through the parking lot twice before I finally found a place to squeeze my SUV into. And that was something that was both telling and desired.

I’ll have to give you a little background to help make sense of what I’m trying to say.

As most of you already know, Billy Gates, who was the sports editor at the Pioneer for the last 18 months, has moved on. I’ve been charged with stepping in and making not only a smooth transition but hopefully taking the coverage of sports in this area to the next level.

It’s a job I feel I was meant for and that’s because of where I come from.

I grew up in Texas. More specifically, west Texas, where the towns are small and far between, but the passion for prep sports is as high as the Texas sky. Towns that have a population of 2,500 have stadiums that hold 5,000 because the opponent’s fans needed a place to sit.

Prep sports were all we had. And more importantly, all we wanted.

And that kind of attitude has not only shaped me, but stayed with me.

I have been in the sports journalism business a long time and I have covered it all.

But I absolutely love prep sports. They not only define a community, they keep those communities together and sometimes, give them something to be really proud of.

So it was refreshing to see a packed parking lot Friday night at MHS and a pretty full gym. It was equally nice to have the same parking problem Saturday at Culver High for the district wrestling tournament.

Again, I had to make a few circles before finding a parking space.

But that is the way I feel it should be and the way I want it to be.

I have been fortunate to cover prep sports in six states now. Some have been great, like Texas, and others, like Washington, not so great.

Too many times I have walked into a gym for a big game and the players and coaches almost outnumber the fans. I have never understood how something like that could happen.

The local prep team, in my mind, is the only team that matters.

We all have our ties to college and pro teams but we become such a small part of their existence. There will always be fans dumb enough to pay overpriced prices to sit in areas where they can’t see anything just to say they were at a game.

But in your local high school gym, you get great seats, are close to the action and can actually walk down onto the court and speak with a player that you already have some sort of tie to. To me, it just doesn’t get any better than that.

So to see a couple of examples like that right off the bat made me feel like I am in the right place.

So you will be seeing me around both schools and the community in the coming days and months. Here’s to some great times to come.

Contract Publishing

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