Looking back to when I took this job three years ago, I realize that I had no clue what I was getting myself into. My first full-time newspaper gig. I had hopes, ideas and a spring in my step.
But then there’s the lingering stress. There’s the constant worry. There’s the inevitability that someone will hate what I write. I’ll never forget one phone call that came in. The other person on the line vowed to send his son’s grandmother in to “rip me a new one.”
I also had no idea how much I’d learn. I learned about people and how some react when faced with challenges and unfavorable odds. I learned that some high school athletes get it – that success takes work in the class and on the field – and some don’t. I learned that all of these athletes care deeply for their teams and teammates. I learned that some will never get over the fact that Gilroy forever will have two public high schools.
I learned, most of all, that I can do this job. I still have that spring. I’ve grown up. And what I’ve done here has led to an opportunity to work for a daily newspaper in Texas – the Odessa American.
This is my last weekend at the Gilroy Dispatch.
I’ve lived my entire life in this general area; born and raised in San Jose, graduated from Willow Glen High School and San Jose State University – where I met my wife. And in less than one week, we are west Texas bound. She will also work for the paper.
But before I go…
Some former colleagues who have moved on before me wrote in, ironically, their farewell pieces, that they disliked goodbye columns. I don’t understand why. I take pride in what I did here and I am thankful for the help I received in getting to where I am now. This is my opportunity to be completely transparent. It’s my space on the page. I’m going to fill it.
Luckily for me – written somewhat sarcastically – I arrived in town the year Christopher High opened its doors. It’s the one predominant dividing line in this town. And I don’t think it should be. But that is for everyone else here to figure out.
It has been great to watch the development of the Cougars’ sports programs and league championships are starting to pile up. The coaches have been fantastic to work with. I covered the first football game in school history. It was my first solo assignment. The junior varsity Cougars fell short – about 3-yards short – of winning.
At the same time, it’s been tough to witness some of the Gilroy High teams struggle as coaches there scratch their heads. Coaches, too, who have been amazing to partner with through these last three years. Throughout all the change, the wrestling team is still unbeatable, field hockey and softball are perennial playoff contenders and the girls basketball team two years ago fell one win short of the section final. Pretty remarkable.
Don’t worry, division placement and the enrollment issue when compared to the bigger schools south of here, will all be ironed out eventually.
The rivalry games between the two schools have been tense at times, fueled by all sorts of off-the-field kindling. But only at times. Mostly, though, the matchups have been entertaining, well-played and memorable.
On the topic of memorable, there are just too many moments to list. But just know, there are plenty engrained in my mind.
Win or lose and no matter which league, which division or in what area the local prep teams play, it is always important to support the teams, student-athletes and coaches. There are some hard-working individuals in this town dedicated to giving Gilroy’s student-athletes the best opportunity to succeed.
All of that, too, can be said for Gavilan College. There are some great things happening on that campus. And I know those players and coaches would love to see more faces in the stands.
So, to you, coaches, athletic directors, principals and athletes, thank you for your cooperation, patience and understanding – and of course some primetime quotes.
I am going to miss all who I have connected with, had conversations with and shared beverages with in Gilroy. I have received a number of uplifting emails, phone calls and kind gestures over the last week, wishing my wife and I well. They have spilled in quite unexpectedly. I will remember all of them. I feel blessed to have served here.
There were some days, weeks even, where I felt like I had barely survived and still wished I could have done more, or knew that maybe I should have.
One of my goals while in this position was to positively highlight the efforts of local athletes at any level. I hope that was reflected in my writing.
From time to time, my column allowed readers to get a glimpse into what I’m all about. I love the San Francisco 49ers, hate streakers and really anxious to see what The Ghost does next. I hope you enjoyed some of those.
I have seen so much in three years here – devastating injuries, heartbreaking defeats and triumphant victories.
Nothing compared to the movement in Gilroy when one of its own – Andrel Gaines, the GHS grad and Gavilan hoops hopeful – died last fall. From athletes to classmates to concerned citizens, the coming together of youth was inspiring. It’s not always rewarding to report the news. That was the toughest story to tell.
The town, too, rallied to the side of Jack Daley when he was unceremoniously removed from his post as Gilroy High athletic director. Gilroyans sure do find ways to be heard.
Tonight’s third annual Severance Bowl will be my last football game in Gilroy. Perfect. Fitting. And Saturday – field hockey playoffs. So if you see me strolling by, feel free to say, well, goodbye.
Oh, two more things: Be sure to read those stories in Tuesday’s Dispatch and online at gilrydispatch.com. And when my replacement takes his seat, read his stuff, too. His name is Tristan Aird and he has four years of experience covering prep sports.
Keep this community news outlet afloat. You will not read this type of sports coverage anywhere else, especially on some wannabe website with a similar name.
So long, y’all.