If all the world is a stage, as some famous person once said, then I have been blessed to have had the cast, crew and extras that have starred in the movie of my life.
Act I began with family.
My upbringing never consisted of keeping up with the Jones, but it was full of riches.
My dad taught me the value of hard work, provided despite tough circumstances and made me the man I am today.
My brother showed me compassion and love. He taught me to always stand for what I believed and to always fight for what is right.
Act II began with college.
Attending the University of Georgia was an epic saga for me.
I paid my way through school, working sometimes up to three jobs while also going to class. Because of this it took me a lot longer than most to graduate. In fact, it took almost 14 years.
However, despite wanting to give up many times, I always had a support system of amazing friends and professors that helped me get through the darkest times, encouraged me to keep going and made me enjoy what life had to offer.
College was a challenging act in my life. But, no matter what curveballs I was thrown, I stuck with it. When I walked on to the stage for graduation, the sense of accomplishment I felt was like nothing I had ever experienced before.
Act III began after college.
When I graduated from UGA, I set out on one of the greatest adventures I have ever experienced. It was just me, my girl, a Jeep Grand Cherokee filled with camping gear and a plan to travel cross country.
For several months, we traveled up the east coast, the length of Route 66 and halfway up the west coast in search of everything life could offer. We didn’t stay in fancy hotels, or even not-so-fancy hotels. Instead we tent camped across America.
Through our travels we met some of the most wonderful, kind and giving people. We made friends in each town we visited, even if for but a brief period of time.
The trip restored our faith in the goodness of people, human interaction and building bonds with others.
Act IV began with being hired by The Nugget and becoming part of the Tribe.
For almost seven years now, I strove to bring the best sports coverage I could through the pages of The Nugget’s sports section.
As my first paying journalism job, I sacrificed many of my nights and weekends to tirelessly make sure that no sport in Lumpkin County was left uncovered. Whether it was the LCMS cross country team or the LCHS rifle team, I made a concerted effort to make sure that each student athlete and each local sports team got its just due within the paper.
My dedication was a product of all the hard work that I had put in to becoming a newspaper man. That dedication stemmed from my love of sports, journalism, storytelling and for the town that I have called home since we returned from our cross country trip.
Over those years, I have watched the kids I covered grow into extraordinary men and women. I saw them graduate high school and go off to college. I have even seen some return to Lumpkin County to coach or teach after graduating college. I experienced their ups and downs, stood by them during the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. I even bragged on them to anyone who would listen as if they were my own flesh and blood. They became an extension of my family.
My time at The Nugget has forged so many lifelong friendships with so many different people. It has been a joyous journey that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
But, like all good things, my time here in Lumpkin County and covering Lumpkin County athletics is coming to an end.
A new Act is unfolding for this sportswriter.
My fiancé and I have been given a once in a lifetime opportunity that we simply can't pass up and will be moving out of state at the end of the month.
I’m not sure what Act V has in store. But, regardless of what the future holds, I want all those who shared the stage with me in Act IV to know that I will always look back on this time as some of the best years of my life, I will forever hold a sense of Tribe Pride within my heart and I will always keep the fond memories and friendships I have been blessed with during my time here in the forefront of my mind.
Whether you played a pivotal role or were merely an extra, you have made my time here and with The Nugget a blockbuster.