I guess I could take a page from my father and quote Shakespeare – “Parting is such sweet sorrow.”
Considering Air Force is a military academy, I could borrow from Gen. MacArthur (yes, an Army guy, but still) – “Old beat writers never die; they just fade away.”
Or, given my affinity for hip-hop, I could drop some Tribe Called Quest (“I’m out like Buster Douglas”) or Biggie Smalls (“I’m out like the vapors”).
But instead, I’ll just say thanks.
-Thanks to everyone at The Gazette, including Dave Sell, our former sports editor who hired me and then entrusted the Air Force beat to me, and Jim O’Connell, our current editor, who has come up with great ideas for stories and been incredibly accommodating whenever I’ve had personal issues with which to deal.
-Thanks to the Air Force Sports Information Department, in particular Troy Garnhart. I definitely butted heads with Troy on occasion, but we could always put those clashes behind us. And, best of all, he always returned e-mail requests almost immediately – usually with an answer but, failing that, with a promise to find out the answer.
-Thanks to the Johnny Whitaker and David “Loose” Cannon for helping me understand some of the things that happened up on “The Hill.”
-Thanks to Hans Mueh and the Air Force senior administration including Jim Trego, Derm Coll and so many others. I wrote some things that – Hans, especially – probably would rather have not seen in print. But they never held a grudge.
-Thanks to Frank Schwab for taking over this beat. When you work hard on a beat and really care about it, it becomes a big part of your life. And then when you leave it, it’s like dropping a kid off at day care – you want to hand it off to someone who’ll take just as good care of it as you do. And Frank undoubtedly will take even better care of it than I did.
Frank’s a true pro, a walking sports almanac and a great writer/reporter who will give you tons of information through the paper, Gazette.com, this blog and his tweets. Air Force fans are in great hands.
-Thanks to all the athletes who took the time to talk to me. I know every potential minute of free time is precious at the academy, so I very much appreciated them taking the time to sit down and talk to me – especially the football and basketball players with whom I spoke on a regular basis.
-Thanks to football coach Troy Calhoun for always making time to chat and being professional with the media. Some of the most fun I had on the beat was talking to Calhoun after practice – sometimes after the tape recorder was off and we were just chatting about the NFL or any number of random subjects. It was a privilege to cover his teams.
-Thanks to David Ramsey, a great friend and mentor. I’ll definitely miss sitting in the press box with Ramsey, and I’ll miss even more traveling with him to games and trading stories and jokes over dinner or drinks. Ramsey is a great guy and a great talent. I couldn’t have done the job without his frequent advice and comic relief.
-Thanks to my wife, Melissa, mostly for my safety when she reads this (you should see how mad she gets when guys giving speeches at the Academy Awards and events like that fail to thank their wives). But seriously, thanks for everything – and, as it pertains to the Air Force gig – for putting up with all the weekends and nights I spent at the academy or on the road.
-Thanks to anyone I’ve missed. And I’m sure there are plenty of people.
-Finally, thanks to all the Air Force fans who took time to read my articles and blog posts, who took time to call or e-mail (even if it was to say I was an idiot) and who talked with me at games and practices. I enjoyed getting to know all of you and always appreciated your passion for the academy and its kids.
So thanks to everyone again. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on the Falcons and hope to get up to the Army football game this year. If anyone wants to reach me, my personal e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, it’s no secret I played second fiddle on this blog to the legendary BlogDog. So if I can convince Norm to continue making his picks, I’ll be sending them along to Frank each week to post here on the blog.