I'll write when the sun goes down, cover every game in town. . .Thatline from Steeley Dan's hit of the late 1970s, "Deacon Blues," was popular among my sportswriting companions during our college days.
And it's served as a spiritual beacon, of sorts, during my nearly 12-year career as a sportswriter. But all good things must come to an end.
For the past several weeks, I've been serving as assistant editorof The Carroll County Sun while still pitching in with sports duties. As of last week, the sportswriting portion of the job is over, as is that stage of my career.
It's a promotion, for sure, though as South Carroll Athletic Director Fred Baker said recently, "It's just like being promoted to athletic director. Now you're just under the custodians."
My name and picture won't be in the paper very much (a relief to most, I'm sure), but I'll still be here polishing the copy of our top-notch news staff and assisting with the decisions that shape our news coverage. For at least the next few months, I'll continueoverseeing our sports coverage of writer Glenn Graham and several contributors.
But essentially, my sportswriting is finished. And I'll leave behind some cherished memories.
Oh, there are some bad ones -- good athletes suspended for a variety of reasons, serious injuries that ended high school careers too soon, some pretty dismal football and basketball seasons and, while working for the now-defunct NewsAmerican in Baltimore, breaking the story of the sudden death of a high school basketball player 12 years ago.
But to cover community sports is not to dwell on the negative. I have too many good memories, such as:
* Lacrosse. Male, female, high school, college, club orrecreation league, lacrosse games are just plain fun to watch.
I've covered several state high school playoffs, the NCAA Division III women's quarterfinal game at Western Maryland a few years back and dozens of other games just as enjoyable, if not as noteworthy.
That lacrosse is my favorite sport helped make those games so enjoyable; that the sport heralds the coming of spring is icing on the cake.
*Tournaments. Working for The Carroll County Sun, our sister papers in Anne Arundel, Howard and Harford counties, and the sports section of The Sun, I've regularly covered state cross country, wrestling and track championships. I've also covered state tournaments for field hockey, girls soccer, volleyball, boys and girls basketball, softball, baseball and boys and girls lacrosse.
There have been a few turkeys in the bunch, but most of the events, games and competitors have been a joy to watch. (And yes, I do root for Carroll teams, silently, when they battle non-county teams. Victories make for better stories.)
* Food. The quickest way to my heart is through my stomach. The biggest treat each year is the state softball tournament in Anne Arundel County, where the concession stand features pit beef sandwiches. What a job, getting paid to watch softball and eat pit beef sandwiches.
Locally, the homemade food at all of our concession stands is delicious -- the soup at Francis Scott Key, the sauerkraut and chili dogs at Liberty, the pizza at North Carroll, the nachos and cheese at South Carroll and hot chocolate on those cold nights at Westminster.
And, I know my money goes to a good cause, usually the athletic or band booster club.
* People. The most important resource our athletic program has. The classy, talented, hard-working coaches, players and athletic directors and supportive parents I've dealt with far outnumber the jerks who sometimes spoil it for everyone.
Still, I do have some concern for the future.
County physical education supervisor Earl Hersh is retiring at the end of the school year. North Carroll AD Ed Powelson, and his South Carroll counterpart, Fred Baker, have enough time in the system to retire when they want to. Liberty AD Bob Henard has been at Liberty for only a few years, but was a longtime coach and administrator in Illinois.
That group, combined with former Westminster AD Jim Head and several current coaches, all have left or will leave the school system in the next few years.
I sincerely hope we have quality people to fill those shoes.
I know I'llmiss them now that I'm not covering sports. When they retire, the county athletic program will miss them.
Thanks, guys. It's been a blast.