I'll be moving on from the Observer to become the English high school teacher at First Baptist Christian Academy in Bunnell.
When I stepped onto the St. Augustine field to cover Seabreeze football for the Ormond Beach Observer three years ago, I had little journalism experience. I badly needed help, and a Seabreeze dad came to my rescue — which is what the Ormond Beach community has been doing for me ever since.
After walking around helplessly for several minutes, that father introduced himself, gave me a team roster, and helped me with some other things. I was then ready to work.
Over time, I developed into an award-winning journalist. I’m often told that I have a knack for finding stories that tend to make a difference. The truth is so many of you simply shared those stories with me.
Less than a month on the job, former coach and president of Ormond Pride Brian Colubiale called me with the story about Daniel Koch who has muscular dystrophy. Koch, who was the team’s biggest supporter, scored a touchdown from his wheelchair one Saturday. That story won third place at the Florida Press Association Awards, and Colubiale continued to give me great story ideas.
The following year, I messaged former Seabreeze football player Raushod Floyd and asked if he knew anyone I could write a good story about. He told me about Terrell Ivey, who went from a gangster to an honor roll student and successful Seabreeze basketball player. His story won second place in the nation at the Local Media Association Awards.
In the last two years, I’ve won Best Performance in Making a Difference at the annual Observer Awards. I don’t share this to boast in my success. Rather, I want to boast in what you’ve done for me from the beginning.
I never believed I was a good writer or journalist until someone told me that part of being good at either included finding the stories that are worth reading. Through the many friendships I have in Ormond, I was able to write about Kyle Oliver meeting his mom after 12 years; Brett Cormier’s baseball play helping nurse his father to recovery from a stroke; Tori Huffman going from practice player to Mainland’s all-time assist leader; Adonis Boone practicing despite the hurricane wrecking his home life and so many others.
Simply put, I couldn’t have done this job without you, so I will forever be grateful to you for allowing me to live out my dream and to make a difference.