Thanks for the decade of memories|Commentary

Published 9:29 pm Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sports Editor

When I was in college, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I changed majors a handful of times before settling on journalism.
Thanks to Dennis Sabo, one of my best and longest friends, I started my career in newspapers at the Bellevue Gazette, a small daily in Bellevue, Ohio. He took a chance on a recent college graduate, allowing me to become the reporter at the Gazette.
After a stint as a reporter covering such “hot” topics as to what kind of trees would be planted in a new subdivision, the ever-popular budget meetings and the always-heated recreation meetings, I had the opportunity to cover a high school football game. I still remember that game today.
It was a good 20 years ago, pitting the beloved hometown Bellevue Redmen against the Bucyrus Redmen. Bellevue, of course, won. They won a lot.
There was something about being in that atmosphere that I loved, and I knew I wanted to be around it. A lot.
When Bellevue coach Ed Nasonti sprinted onto that field, with his players hooping and hollering behind him, those silver helmets with red feathers shining brightly in the stadium lights, I got goose bumps. I went on to cover those Redmen, and coach Nasonti — still the greatest coach I’ve ever had the privilege of working with, for ten years.
And while it’s been ten years since I left Bellevue, I still follow the Redmen. And I still keep in touch every now and then with the coach.
I covered a ton of great athletes — a couple who went to the pros, a couple who earned Rose Bowl rings, a bunch who went on to play in college, one who fought and died for our country. I also made some long lasting friendships.
It was hard to say goodbye to the coaches, the players and my friends after ten great years.
The same holds true now.
After nearly ten years at the Washington Daily News, it’s time to walk away. I’ve accomplished quite a bit professionally, hitting for the cycle in the awards field with a first-place in column writing, second-place for game coverage and a third-place for column writing.
But I have never done this for the awards. I do this because I love sports. I love writing. It’s a great combination.
I will be heading to New Bern, where I will be the Sports Editor at the Sun Journal.
I’m ready for a new challenge, excited to cover some solid teams over there and anxious to meet new coaches and players.
My last day at the WDN will be Wednesday.
I couldn’t leave without saying goodbye and thank you to all the wonderful coaches, athletes and fans who have treated me so well.
(And to give others of you the opportunity to call in to Sound Off cheering madly that I have finally left. Oh, Sound Off, how I will miss you.)
I’ve covered some great teams and some incredible athletes in my ten years here. I’m taking away a decade’s worth of great memories and, more importantly, a decade’s worth of new friends.
To the coaches, thank you for your friendship, your patience, your understanding and your willingness to work long hours for nearly nothing because you love your sport and you love your players. I will always appreciate having had the honor of working with coaches like Washington’s Sport Sawyer, Jimmy Kozuch, Jon Blank, Michele Elks, Allison Jones, Doug Whitehead and Joe Lawrence, Northside’s Keith Boyd, Mike Procter and Tami Wagamamn, Southside’s John Lohman, David Hines and Elizabeth Pruden, Plymouth’s Robert Cody and Terry Perry, Jamesville’s Richie Ange and Jerry Ange, Bear Grass’ David Eubanks, Williamston’s Herbie Rogers, Hank Tice and Damon Hayes, Terra Ceia’s Ken Leys and Roger Klassaan, Creswell’s Wayne Rodgers and my dear friend, M.J. Williams, of Pungo.
I can’t forget ECU baseball coach Billy Godwin, a great guy and a terrific coach.
Thank you to the pros — Terrance Copper, Damien Wilkins and C.J. Wilson — for always being available and for your friendship.
I also wanted to thank and praise Bobby Andrews, a man who truly “gets it” when it comes to sports. It’s not about winning and losing. It’s about the kids. Mr. Bobby has touched so many lives, and Washington is a much better place because of him.
To people like Janice Coburn and Patty Peebles, thank you for keeping the kids first and for beginning a program, the Castle Soccer League, that will help everybody have the chance to play.
Allen Pittman, thank you for starting the EXCEL league. Watching those kids play, wearing huge smiles as they rounded the bases, touched my heart like no other story has ever done. The photo I took of Morgan Bryant and Jacob Pittman batting together may be the most favorite one I ever took.
To guys like Jerome Tyson and Sam Crawford, you mean more to Washington and youth athletics than you know. You are two of the greatest people I have ever come across. Thank you for having such big hearts.
Thank you to all the players. You really helped make this job fun.
I’ll never forget players like Hayley Stowe (if I ever have a daughter and she is half the person Hayley is, I will be a lucky man), Austin Thompson, Trimane Goddard, Meredith Knox, Elton Coffield, Kevin Roach, Brad Roach, Patrick Swift, Joanna Rogerson, Susan Griffin, Suzanne Lee, Faith Hardison, Erin Bowen, Ashley Nanney, Mat Tanner, C.J. Wilson, Ashley Saunders, Summer Rahn, Gerald Lawrence, Marella Peele, Jordan Cantrell and Trent Whitehead (go pro, son. Go pro).
And, of course, Haley Hiatt. One of the bravest (and funniest) people I have ever met, Haley beat cancer and is thriving on the volleyball and basketball courts now. That is, by far, the most rewarding story I have ever done in my 20 years.
There are so many more great athletes and great people I have met in my ten years. As I’ve said before, I won’t remember how many touchdown passes somebody threw in a season, how many points somebody scored or how many home runs somebody hit. I will remember the students not as athletes, but as people. As great people.
Thank you, Brownie and Ray, for giving me the opportunity to do what I love.
Thank you, readers, for allowing me into your home each morning.
Thank you all for a decade’s worth of great memories. It sure beats what kind of tree is going to be planted in a new subdivision.
Thank you.
Kevin Travis is the Sports Editor of the Washington Daily News. You may reach him at 940-4217 or by e-mail at Kevin@)