As many of you may already know, this is my final sports page in the Graham Leader. I am moving on to other endeavors outside of journalism. This certainly is a bittersweet time for me and my family as we recall all that this job has done for us, as well as the memories that have come from working at The Graham Leader for the past three years.

I certainly will miss many things about following Graham sports, wether it was talking strategy with head basketball coach Marcus Morris after a game, recapping a Steers football win with Rick on the drive home, or heading out of town early on a spring morning to catch a Steers baseball game or a Blues softball game, sitting on a set of bleachers with a big bag of sunflower seeds and a cold Dr. Pepper.

Does it really get any better than that?

Over the last three years I have watched teachers, coaches, players, fans, the band and the cheerleaders all work together to accomplish some amazing things. From the swarm of support that Graham sports receive, to the undying competitive fire that Graham athletes exude in nearly every arena of competition, it has been a pleasure to have seen it all through the lens of someone who got to rehash it each week in the local paper.

I have a great relationship with every coach that I have encountered, and the dynamic created by role as sports editor is something I'll always miss. Every time I have needed a parcel of information or a quote for a story, they have been more than willing to offer their services. I have to thank them for that. The fans and parents, too, have been gracious in their praise and limited in their criticism, though we both know that I haven't done a perfect job throughout my tenure.

When I came back to my hometown after getting through college, I was probably in the largest transition of my life. I was leaving the life of a single college student and entering the “real world,” becoming a husband, and later, a father. This job has allowed me to be around family, friends and resources that wouldn't have been available to me otherwise, and it has also given me the chance to make new friends while remaining a small part of the greatness of Graham sports.

I would be remiss not to mention some people who have made my stay here at the Leader a pleasurable one. I want to thank Julianne Murrah, Cherry Rushin, Gay Storms, Carla McCeown, David Rupkalvis and Brian Rash for putting up with my sports talk radio and my random outburst into obscure songs, a phenomenon that typically occurs 10-12 times throughout the work day.

I also have to thank the rest of the staff of the Graham Leader, and the staff across the hall at Q94.7 for their countless hours of hard work and their dedication to our goal of providing news and informing the town of Graham on many different issues. I know that they will continue to serve the community well, and I am lucky to have been a part of such a talented and hard-working team.

Rick Edwards has been my broadcast partner throughout my time here and has been the voice of the Graham Steers for nearly two decades. Though I played sports in Graham and even played ball with Rick's oldest son, Jake, back in high school, I didn't know him that well going into our partnership. Since my first broadcast in a Steers one-point win over Mineral Wells to begin the 2011 football season, Rick has become a true friend and somebody that I feel I can call on anytime for anything. That is priceless to me, and I hope that the same feeling exists on his end too, as I couldn't have asked for a better person to show me the ropes.

David Flynn is another person that I have to mention by name, as he has been such a large part of my sports page over the years. David is possibly the best photographer in the area. He is someone who has a true passion for both the community and his work behind the camera. Anytime I have asked him to cover something for me, or get some shots for a game in which I had to be on the radio, he has gladly been there to make it happen. I believe that his timeless sports photography has captured the emotion of Graham sports in a way that will be appreciated for decades. 

Bryan Ray has also been someone I could go to when I needed a true professional behind the camera. I hope that he continues his fantastic work and builds on his already tremendous talent. Between those two photographers, we can be sure that the town of Graham and its countless activities, sporting events and some of its greatest moments will be well documented.

Likewise, I have built a special friendship with all of the coaches I have worked with. Though I don't have the space to list all of you here individually, I want to thank each of you for being a part of the last three years of my life. My family and I plan to be apart of the community of Graham for many years despite my change in occupation, and for that I feel truly blessed.

In closing, probably the biggest lesson I learned from my time at the Leader happened when I interviewed Margaret Melton for a Senior Times story. The Melton's have been family friends for some time, and when I was working on their story, she said something to me that I hope will stick with me forever. As she and her husband, Don, were and still are struggling at times with their health, she told me, “You can choose to be happy, or choose to be sad. We have always chosen happiness.”

My hope for myself, my family, and the entire community that I have been a part of for seven of the last 13 years is that we choose happiness. Thank you again for your support and for so many great times. I will miss being at every game, and being able to witness every accomplishment and every victory that undoubtedly awaits the Steers and Blues in the future.