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COLUMN LIKE I SEE 'EM: A fond farewell (Or, hey Mom and Dad, been meaning to tell you something)

Dear reader, I am writing this column to you posthumously.

No, I’m not dead, but I am no longer a writer for the Powell Tribune, and I’m not quite sure what the right term is for that. You see, I’ve never been much of a words guy.

But somehow I’ve been the sports editor of the Powell Tribune, and that was a title I was always eager to share with people. I have been proud to work at the Powell Tribune, for the Bonners and with the ... let’s go with “eclectic” ... staff with whom I shared a newsroom for two-plus years.

It may come as a surprise to many of you, but leaving the Tribune this is actually a voluntary decision on my part. No, the rodeo community didn’t finally run me out of town and the brutal winters couldn’t freeze me out either.

In fact, I’m not going anywhere just yet. I plan on staying in town until November, at least. In the meantime I’ll be — well I can’t say just yet, but I don’t plan on venturing from the world of Powell sports.

Right now I can say that I will carry two job titles into the fall (down from four just a week ago), and it’s likely many of you have seen me (“Hey, aren’t you the guy who takes pictures for the paper?”) at my new, more public, job.

Let me say, with all due respect to the Tribune, I am very excited for what’s next in career. Unfortunately, again, I am not at liberty to give specifics just yet. Trust me, I wish I could. Like being the Tribune’s sports editor, my new position will be fun to boast about, as it is one I am honored and proud to hold.

Also, if I’m being completely honest, playing my cards this annoyingly close to the vest will drive my mother crazy.

As far as my future writing ventures go, Powell was never meant to be the end game. Not for me, at least.

For my purposes, my career and my ambitions, Powell was always a stepping stone. A huge, stable stepping stone that put me in a position to leap in many exciting and positive directions. That’s something for which I will be forever grateful.

Outside of Wyoming there are other teams, other stories and other papers. Papers that have a chance to break the news before a majority of their readers already know it.

That’s not a criticism of Powell. In fact, it’s a compliment to the sense of unity that Powell has forged, which is something I’ve grown to learn and appreciate (and at times, rue) in my time here.

Cheers to the tight-knit small town that many think exist only in overplayed country songs.

I know that Powell has more to offer than what you can see in the minute-thirty it takes to drive through its stretch of Hwy 14A.

It was the place that offered me a chance to try my hand at real, professional journalism. Beyond that, it gave me — a young, in-over-his-head “writer” — copious amounts of freedom. The freedom to try something new, the freedom to learn, the freedom to express myself and the freedom to cause trouble.

(The last two were often related.)

So thank you, Powell Tribune. If I am a good writer, and that’s not for me to say, it’s only because you made me so.

Now for the rest of the obligatory — but wholly sincere — thank yous.

Thank you to Powell’s sports community. This town’s coaches, players and parents have brought me great pressure pleasure over each season.

The cooperation I received from almost every coach and sports official in this town was more than I could have asked for and far more than I deserved.

It was my great fortune to have landed in a place with such a rich and dominating sports culture.  Hopefully the next place I cover isn’t mired in a years-long championship drought. Powell hasn’t done much to prepare me to write about losers.

And lastly, thank you to the person who’s worked closest with me during my time as sports editor. Any attempt to create what we did on my own would have been futile.

You made my work easier, and you made it better. Without you I’d have nothing to offer Powell but uninviting blocks of text and links to a Flickr account.

The only reason anyone ever read anything I wrote is because you presented it in a way that tricked them into thinking it was worthwhile. It’s a shame each page you design doesn’t come with your own byline.

When I knew (long before you) that our time together was coming to an end my brain threw an old childhood memory to the forefront of my thoughts. And from this memory I will steal a line that I can’t help but apply to you.

When I was about 8 or 9 years old I played in a flag football league. At this time I was one of the youngest and smallest players on the team, and probably not very good. I loved football with a great passion but I was very quiet and just went about my business during practice and games.

I scored only one touchdown that season, not because my number was finally called but because I intercepted a pass (by jumping in front of one of my own teammates) and somehow managed to not trip over my feet on my way to the end zone.

Point is, I was not a star. If there were articles written about that league I would not have made any headlines. Maybe the term “under-appreciated” applied. But there were people, my coach being one of them, who were happy I was a part of the season.

Following the season our team held an awards banquet where I’m pretty sure everyone got a cheap, tiny plastic gold trophy of a very vague guy posing in a very vague football position.

But after the trophies were handed out and the pizza was devoured, my coach told me and my parents he wanted to talk to me in the parking lot. I was young and he spoke a lot so it’s hard to remember everything he said, but the way he closed his (probably only three-minute) speech will stay with me until I die (or run into yet another 80-pound solid-wood door at Northwest College).

“Have you seen ‘The Wizard of Oz?’” my coach asked me.

“Yeah ... ,” I replied.

“You remember how Dorothy tells the Scarecrow she’s going to miss him most of all?” he continued. “Well, you’re my Scarecrow.”

I don’t have a game-used football that I’ve written a nice little note on to give you, but the sentiment is the same. You’re my Scarecrow, Carla.

Every character (and sometimes I wonder if they weren’t cast for a reality show I’m unaware of) from the Tribune was necessary to the overall story, but years from now when this great two-year adventure is reduced to a handful of romanticized memories, you will star in the highlight reel.

Lastly, Carla, I couldn’t find a way to work it into the column naturally so, just because I thought you might like to see it in print: Fart demon.

To everyone outside the Tribune who’s read this far and wondered what my open letter to a co-worker has to do with them ... not a lot, other than to reinforce the notion that I’ve greatly enjoyed my time in Powell and at the Tribune.

Which leads me back to you, reader. You’ve tolerated (if not necessarily enjoyed) this sort of rambling overwrought nonsense for 26 months and only on a few occasions have you asked for me to be removed from my job.

All any writer really wants is an audience, and through it all I’ve been lucky to receive enough positive feedback that kept me going, even when we both knew I did a less-than-perfect job.

Now it’s time for me to do a less-than-perfect job somewhere else, and I can only hope it turns out as well as it did here in Powell.

Mom, Dad; if there’s any way we can keep the inevitable conversation/explanation to a few texts, great. If not, I look forward to the phone call.

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