BY MATT MENCARINI | SPORTS EDITOR
Well, this is the end of the line for me, sports fans.
After 40 full issues (this being No. 41), and about 240,000 words, this is among the last articles I’ll write for the Ormond Beach Observer. By the time this makes print, I’ll be in Illinois, having accepted a job at another newspaper.
When I accepted this position, I had no idea what to expect. I had never covered high school sports, let alone youth sports, before, having spent the previous year in graduate school, covering minor league baseball and hockey.
I’ll spare you the introspective monologue about what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown as a person, writer and journalist in Ormond Beach, a place I had never heard of until I was driving down Alcoa Highway in Maryville, Tenn., and got a phone call from Brian McMillan, our managing editor.
So instead, I want to simply say thank you. Thank you, Ormond Beach. You let me into your lives, your living rooms and onto your sidelines. You shared your stories with me, and trusted me to tell them. Don’t think for a moment I didn’t take that responsibility seriously.
I hope I did your stories justice. I said early on I don’t root for teams or players. I root for good stories. And there were more here than I had time for, as well as teams and players I genuinely enjoyed watching.
I have no doubt the next sports writer to fill these pages will do a better job than I did, and I truly hope they do. I want the best for this paper and think very highly of the people I was fortunate enough to work with.
In the meantime, Andrew O’Brien, the associate editor and sports writer for the Palm Coast Observer, will take over. He’s among the best journalists I’ve seen work, and he’ll hit the ground running. Follow him on twitter (@AObrien7). You’ll get great insight into area sports and, bonus, it’ll feed his ego (one last dig while I’m walking out the door can’t hurt, right?).
So, so long, Ormond Beach. It was nice knowing you.
We’ll always have those Friday nights, those road trips to state championships and those Thursday mornings where, hopefully, for a few minutes, we shared in wonder of how great sports can be.