It's hard to say goodbye, Newberg
As I was looking ahead to the C.S. Lewis Academy boys soccer team's home game three weeks ago, it occurred to me that coach Brett Vernon played in the first game I covered as a reporter for the Newberg Graphic, a Newberg High School boys basketball playoff game versus South Salem in 2010.
I was thinking that far back because I've accepted a communications position with the North Clackamas School District that begins at the end of the month and have been slowly letting people know in recent weeks.
I mentioned it to Vernon because I thought it was interesting how someone from that first game was still so involved in the local sports scene. I couldn't help but reflect about being the person who chronicled his journey from player to coach, following in the footsteps of his father, Mark, who was also the Tigers' coach when I arrived.
Although I didn't realize it at the time (and probably should have), that Watchmen game versus Columbia Christian turned out to be the last game I covered in person as the staff sports reporter for the Graphic.
Although unintentional, it seems quite fitting that Brett was involved in games marking the beginning and the end of my tenure in Newberg.
It also drove home a feeling that had been growing in me over the past month as it became clear that I would be leaving the paper. I certainly knew that I would miss Newberg, Dundee and St. Paul, but I didn't expect it to feel so much like I was leaving home. Although I have never lived here, in doing this job it has very much become my community.
I can't say the same for any of the places where my mail has been delivered since I moved to Oregon just over nine years ago, including various areas of Portland, Tigard, Estacada and, most recently, McMinnville.
The difference is the people. Nowhere else do I have so many strong connections than I do in the Chehalem Valley.
In going through the process of applying for jobs, I had a few trusted contacts that I reached out to for references and advice. I feel quite fortunate to have received a great deal of help and support in that regard and want those people (they know who they are) to know I'm very grateful.
At one point, though, I realized that the list of folks I have developed strong professional and personal relationships with was actually quite long, ranging across my various beats and roles with the Graphic. I could just as easily have reached out to any of them and am confident they would have been equally willing and helpful.
I'm thankful for that, but especially for the folks in the educational realm, public and private, without whom I wouldn't be making this career transition, which marks a new chapter in my life.
As excited as I am to turn the page, leaving all of these people, leaving my community, is also quite difficult.
My last day with the Graphic was Oct.16. I regret not being able to share the news personally with more of you who surely deserved that. I hope that this farewell will suffice instead and that we will stay in touch.
I have to admit that, having never been afforded the opportunity to do so before, I was quite tempted to begin this column by saying, "By the time you read this, I will already be gone …"
But that wouldn't be quite right, as I expect to pop in from time to time to help with coverage here or there, and I hope that will allow us to connect again.
Furthermore, the friendships I've made will surely bring me back on a regular basis, as will the disc golf.
The truth is that I could never truly leave Newberg altogether.
It's become too much a part of me.