Webb: Home is where the heart was and is

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The vintage arcade 1984 was one of the main reasons we made the trip to Springfield, Missouri, a few weeks ago. The arcade has an array of old-school games like Track & Field.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I went on a mini-vacation – more of a trip, really – to Springfield, Missouri. Though we’d been planning the trip for several months, it ended being squeezed between two life-changing events: My departure from Metropolitan Community College and beginning a new job at my alma mater, Washburn University.

We’ve had some memorable vacations, most notably more than a week off to visit San Diego in 2015. The 2017 version of a vacation was as much about taking a break from the grind as it was anything.

I recommended Springfield several months ago for a couple of reasons: 1. To satisfy the nerd in me with a trip to the vintage arcade 1984. 2. To revisit where I grew up: southwest Missouri.

I’ve mentioned a few times that I grew up a borderline hillbilly. Let’s just say one of my parents refers to me as “Ernie Bill” to this day. It was the best way the family came up with to differentiate between three people with the same name: Grandpa, dad and myself (Grandpa, at 6-foot-2, was Big Ernie, dad was Little Ernie and I was Ernie Bill, or E.B.).

Much of my brother and I’s upbringing was in the country. We rarely lived in town until high school. In between periods of living several miles outside of Neosho, Anderson and Lebanon, Missouri, we had a small house in the center of Joplin, on the edge of the large swath the F5 tornado left in 2011.

Though we often lived in the middle of nowhere, we were never bored. When we weren’t traveling across the Heartland with our parents on business trips, we were hunting, fishing and playing any sport we could on large, open pastures. I have fond memories of playing catch with my father, the hours of practice resulting in a pretty good Little League career.

I also remember growing up with good, old-fashioned country folks. These were people who worked hard and played hard. Virtually every weekend, there was a large fish fry, followed by a dance featuring a plethora of beer (for the adults, of course).

That part of our life came to an end in 1989 when mom and dad moved us from Lebanon, where we’d been for five years, to tiny Burlingame, just outside of Topeka. Our parents told us about the move just a few weeks before the end of school. A seventh-grader who was finally comfortable at Lebanon Junior High, I was devastated.

In the years after, I often wondered what my former classmates were up to. Sometimes, I wondered how things would have worked out if we’d stayed. Fortunately, social media has connected most of those dots.

As for my wife and I’s trip back to the homeland, I wanted to see how much the towns have changed in the 20 years since I last visited. As we drove around Lebanon visiting the schools I attended through seventh grade, hundreds of memories crossed through my mind: Little League games at Jones Park, dances at the junior high and the first crush.

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Once a clean, well-manicured property, the land I grew up on resembles a junkyard in 2017.

We drove by both places where my childhood homes sat. Both are gone now, one replaced by a plush new home, the other burned to the ground. The latter plot of land now serves as a dumping ground for dilapidated trailer homes, junked out cars and other trash. Gone are the basketball goal I shot on daily and the tree house my dad spent days building while my mom, brother and I were on vacation in California.

 

The more we drove around, the more I thought, “Things seemed so much bigger then than they are now.” It’s a shame that happens.

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Why wife paying respect to a man she never met, unfortunately. My grandfather, Big Ernie, died in 1984.

My wife and I also visited Anderson, Missouri, where I attended kindergarten and first grade, followed by Joplin (second and third grade). We also visited my grandfather at the local cemetery. As my wife cleared off his headstone, I thought about the day he died in 1984. I was only seven, but I’ll never forget the devastation on my father’s face when he hung up the phone.

 

I realized as we were driving home that the trip was closure for me. In some ways, I never got over leaving Lebanon as a 13-year-old and losing several wonderful friends. But, as I looked over at my wife, I realized I never would have met her if we’d stayed. I wouldn’t have three great kids. I wouldn’t have the amazing best friend I’ve had since eighth grade, nor the hundreds of wonderful friends I met in Burlingame and in Topeka. I wouldn’t have attended Washburn University.

I finally came to the conclusion that going back it always good, but so is coming home.

Forever Ichabod: Washburn has always been home

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It’s true: Washburn does move me. Enough so that I’m going back next week.

I spent much of my childhood on the road with my parents, who ran a small leather crafts business. On most weekends, my brother and I would travel with our parents across the Heartland to craft shows throughout the region.

One weekend, my dad and I would wake up at 4 a.m. and drive across Missouri to Hannibal, while mom and my brother would travel into Kansas for a show in Coffeyville. The next weekend, one set would trek to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and the other to Hillsboro, Kansas.

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Both of my degrees, including a master’s, are from Washburn University.

Once in a while, my brother and I would go on a road trip with one parent, while the other worked the show alone. Topeka just happened to be one of the trips.

Every Fourth of July, my mom would drive from our home in Lebanon, Missouri, to Washburn University, where we set up a booth at Go Fourth. The idea, of course, was that the sons would help their mother. More often than not, we weren’t at the booth.

Instead, my brother and I would run around a campus that seemed gigantic to a couple of borderline hillbillies from southwest Missouri. We spent most of the show in the basement of the Memorial Union, which had a small arcade with about 15 games, a TV room and vending machines.

The Union also had an elevator, which we rode up to the top floor from the basement about 6,594 times. When we weren’t in the Union, we hung out around the fountains in front of Mulvane Art Museum or spent much of our time with the Scardinas, who also had a crafts business and lived in Topeka.

The Scardinas’ sons were amazing hosts, taking the hillbillies to the palace known as West Ridge Mall and letting us ignite half of the fireworks they purchased on the Fourth.

Other than growing up a University of Missouri fan, Washburn was my first experience on a college campus. Not in a million years, however, did I imagine how much an impact the school would have on my life.

Even after we moved 20 miles south of Topeka in 1989, Washburn wasn’t on the radar. When I realized that Mizzou and TCU were out of the price range, I ended up going to Kansas State for a year.

Academically, I did OK. Emotionally, I wasn’t ready. K-State was far too big and far too impersonal. It just didn’t feel like home.

After spending a year at Allen County Community College in Burlingame, where I also went to high school, I really had no idea where I was going to go. I did attend a Transfer Day at Washburn in 1996, expecting to enroll.

I didn’t listen well in 1996 (my wife might argue that I still don’t), so I “heard” that Washburn wasn’t going to take most of my credits during a session on transferring (that wasn’t the case). My dad and I left 45 minutes into the event.

Completely lost, I called several schools when we got home, asking primarily if they had a journalism program. After 30 minutes on the phone, I got a call that changed my life. The Admissions director at Washburn discovered we left early and spoke to me for 20 minutes about the Mass Media department and the University.

He asked if I’d come up for a one-on-one tour of the campus the next day. I came to campus early that next morning, met with the director and Mass Media chairperson and enrolled in classes that day.

Two years later, I was editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, one of the youngest members of a school board in the state of Kansas and an assistant high school basketball coach. None of that happens if I don’t attend Washburn.

Years later, when I left the newspaper industry, I struggled mightily to find a full-time job. Being a genius, I picked the worst time to change careers: 2010, when the economy rode the struggle bus. After a year of surviving at a part-time job, the Washburn Alumni Association hired me as media relations specialist.

During the next four years, I wrote hundreds of stories about alumni, reconnected with professors I’d had in class and met some of the finest people you can imagine, most of whom shared the bond of graduating from Washburn.

In 2015, I knew if I wanted to climb the ladder, I needed to step out of my comfort zone and take a risk. After several agonizing days trying to make a decision, including a couple of tearful nights, I decided to leave my alma mater to become campus communications coordinator at Metropolitan Community College-Business & Technology.

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I worked with amazing people at MCC, including Je-Anne Rueckert, an instructor and lab technician in the HVAC department.

For nearly two years at MCC-BT, I tried to learn as much as I possibly could to become a better marketer and communicator. In the meantime, I continued to work toward a master’s degree, which I finally received in May.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that opportunity would knock at Washburn within two years of leaving. But it has. To make a long story short, I’m returning to my alma mater next week as director of strategic marketing and communications.

To say I’m excited would be an understatement. I’m also humbled that a school I love so much would give me such a wonderful opportunity.

Before I go, I want to thank MCC, in particular the staff and faculty who work their tails off to make the college a high-quality academic experience in Kansas City. I can’t possibly name everybody, but folks like Mike, Dan, Steve, Shawn, Ryan, Tracy, Tatia, Dixie, Aaron, Matt, Jen, Star, Lisa, Jim, Robert, Je-Anne and dozens of others have made the experience a great one. Without the knowledge I gained at MCC, I would not be returning to Washburn.

As for my alma mater: Thank you. From Go Fourth to now, thank you for bringing me home.

 

Back to school

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The thought of school used to drive me to tears. I cried on the first day of school every year until the fifth grade. It wasn’t that I didn’t like school. I was just scared.

That stopped in September 1986 when my father pulled me aside a few days before school for a short, gentle man-to-little-man talk.

“Son, I know this is tough, but you’re growing up,” he said. “ You need to be strong; don’t cry this year. There’s nothing to be scared of. I love you.”

I don’t remember many of my first days of class. A few stand out: first day at Lincoln Middle School in Burlingame because we’d moved from Missouri the summer of; first day of high school, because, well, it was the first day of high school (also the day I met my future wife); and my first day at Washburn.

But the fifth grade was the most memorable because, for the first time, I didn’t cry. I came close, but I remembered what my father said about being strong, and I’ve thought about that day through the years on many first days.

First grade, circa 1981, with my Flash Gordon pin.

First grade, circa 1981, with my Flash Gordon pin.

TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL

The last time I walked into a classroom as a student, I was about as laid-back and nonchalant as you can be. It was May 1999, and frankly, I really didn’t care. I’d earned my degree in December 1998 and stayed for the spring semester essentially to run the school newspaper (and avoid getting a real job for another six months).

A few months before my “last” class, my advisor at Washburn said I should go directly to grad school and get my master’s degree. I laughed. “No way. I’m done with this after 18 years.”

Fast forward 14 years and I’m less than a week away from another first day: my first day of graduate school. Guess I wasn’t done after 18 years.

With my parents, about to be on my way.

With my parents, about to be on my way.

GOING PRO

I’ve been asked throughout the years if I regretted not going directly to grad school. At times, yes, but I was working in the newspaper business about a month after I left college.

I had lofty goals: being an editor, running a big newspaper, working as a columnist. Back then, many of us were foolish enough to think newspapers would forever remain the same (OOPS!).

So I never seriously considered a master’s degree and dove into my career. I worked long and hard at small papers, writing up to 20 stories a week for chump change until moving to mid-sized papers as a copy editor and page designer.

A WRITER WRITES

“Are you writing?”

That’s the first thing people asked over the years. Dad, mom, my high school English and journalism teacher (now my mother-in-law), friends. The answer, for several years, was “No.”

The response generally came  with undertones of “You’re betraying your talent.”

I eventually did get back into writing when I had a column at the Topeka Capital-Journal in 2006 and 2007. Few things have made me prouder, largely because all of those people who’d asked me about writing were so proud.

BACK TO SCHOOL

Unfortunately, it became clear a few years later, after I’d moved up to large dailies in Newport News, Va., and Tulsa, that the newspaper industry was on life support.

So, after 11 years, six newspapers, more than a dozen residences, hundreds of columns, thousands of pages designed and an extra 100 pounds, I called it quits.

It was at that point that I wondered why I hadn’t gone directly to grad school.

BACK TO WHERE IT BEGAN

I didn’t look at any school but Washburn when I thought about going back to school in 2010. A teaching degree made sense. I even considered going to law school. Then I saw the price tag for out-of-state tuition. No thanks.

So, I moved back home, started working as a contractor and bided my time trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up.

That’s when Washburn came calling … again.

Covering a press conference at Washburn.

Covering a press conference at Washburn.

A PERFECT FIT

I’ve been asked several times how I ended up going to school at Washburn. It really was dumb luck.

I spent an uneventful year at Kansas State achieving a stellar 2.8 GPA while playing hours of “Zelda: A Link to the Past” and watching “The Ricki Lake Show,” “Love Connection” and whatever else was on the four channels we got on my roommate’s TV.

I left after taking one class the following August and spent a year in junior college. I really only chose to visit Washburn because it was close to home.

I nearly ended up at Emporia State when we mistakenly came to the conclusion that none of my credits were going to transfer during a visit to campus.

Not long after we’d returned home, I received a call from Washburn’s admissions department. The director assured me that the credits would transfer and asked if I could come back the next day for a personalized tour of campus.

That personal attention was enough for me. I started my junior year a few months later and never looked back. By the time I graduated, I was editor of the school paper, graduated with honors and was a completely different person.

BACK TO CLASS

Fifteen years after that life-changing phone call from the admissions director, I began working at Washburn as a media specialist. That’s right, as hard as I tried to get away from being a journalist, I simply couldn’t.

Months later, I discovered that Washburn pays for its employees to attend a class each semester. It was too good of a deal to pass on.

So, here we are, nearly 30 years after the first day of fifth grade, and I’m about to have another first day. I’m a little nervous, but not enough to cry.

Questioning my fanhood

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Missouri has never been to a Final Four. Ever. Seriously.

As soon as the girlfriend left to pick up dinner, I walked into the bed room, took one look at my Missouri shirt, pulled it off my body and launched it across the room. Pure frustration. For the first time in 26 years, I questioned why I’ve been following this team.

So many tough losses, unfathomable endings, gut-wrenching disappointments. Seemingly little payback for being a loyal, not to mention ticket- and paraphernalia-buying, fan. That’s where it stands. Described by the girlfriend as “Mr. Mizzou” to her friends and family, I’m questioning my, gulp, fanhood.

It wasn’t so much losing to a Kansas State team that has nowhere near the talent Missouri does as it was the way they lost. Completely, utterly, ridiculously uninspiring, listless football. This is not what a large legion of fans deserves. Not after years of disappointment. Years of patience. Years of waiting. Same crap, different year.

Happier times in Manhattan a few weeks ago. The same team that squeaked by Eastern Kentucky manhandled Missouri on Saturday.

A friend once described Missouri fans as the Chicago Cubs fans of college athletics. It’s not a bad comparison. The last time the football team won a conference title, Moses wasn’t born. OK, it was 1969. Still, that’s ridiculous. The basketball team has one championship – a conference tournament title in 2009 – in the last 17 years.

That’s inexcusable for the only major college in the state. A state with two big metro areas – St. Louis and Kansas City – to recruit. As Gary Pinkel would say, remarkable.

Missouri football has been pretty good the last several years. I’ll give Gary Pinkel that. Hell, the Tigers were one half away from playing for a national championship in 2007.

There have been some great moments, like storming the field with the old man after upsetting No. 1 Oklahoma. Of course, Mizzou followed it up with losses to Nebraska and Texas Tech.

But even that season had its devastation. First, melting down in the second half of a tie game against Oklahoma for the conference title in 2007, then getting worked out of BCS bid by corrupt Orange Bowl officials and a rogue, shady athletics director.

Throw in Tyus Edny’s miracle in 1995, the flea-kicker in 1997, the fifth down in 1990, four losses in the Elite Eight … it’s really pretty amazing how many times the impossible has happened to Old Mizzou.

Did Shevin Wiggins cheat to help win the flea-kicker game in 1997? We'll never know.

Maybe I was spoiled by 40 wins in four years. Probably shouldn’t be the case considering Missouri barely won 40 games in the 1980s and 1990s. But, at the very least as a fan, you expect a decent effort and competent coaching. That’s why it’s so damn frustrating.

So, I didn’t wear any Missouri gear today. Those of you who know me probably just said, “Woah.” Those of you who don’t … if I’m not at work or at a function for work, I’ve probably got something with an “M” on. That was my response to a hideous performance, the latest in three decades worth of disappointments.

I swore up and down Saturday evening I wasn’t watching another Missouri football game this year. After all, my alma mater, Washburn, is undefeated and ranked in the top five in Division II. Instead of having two teams, might be time for one  team for a while.

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this, Mr. Mizzou,” the girlfriend said.

I can’t either. But I’m officially on strike … until Saturday’s game.

I’m into fitness, take eight: At the gym

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I used to be afraid of the gym. It can be an intimidating place. Mainly, though, I hated the thought of everybody looking at the fat guy. I did all my weight training at home.

That all changed in August … by accident. A co-worker’s husband asked if I’d check out the Student Recreation and Wellness Center at Washburn, where I work. I was hesitant, but accepted, partly because they had a special offer – any time the temperature was above 90, you could work out for free (pretty much every day in August).

We went to the gym on Aug. 5. I have been there nearly every day since.  I’ve found that a lot of the things I feared about the gym are silly. Nobody is looking at you. If they are, they’re not working out. Or they’re impressed. At least that’s what I tell myself.

I’m fortunate to have access to the gym I do. As an employee, I pay about $15 a month for access to every machine you can imagine, plus a track to run around, basketball courts, climbing wall and a shower after working out.

And the gym is rarely busy. Maybe the students work out in the mornings or evenings. I know not many of them show up around lunch time.

The ones who do, most of them anyway, are great. It’s like a fraternity of people working out. Same faces, same routines, every day. Hell, some have even offered tips on lifting (so maybe they are looking at the FORMER fat guy).

There are few annoyances. Not that I’m an expert, but some things should be commonsense. A few things about bad gym etiquette:

STOP GRUNTING, PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD

I understand exerting yourself, heavy breathing. I get it. But, please, don’t grunt like you’re showing your “O” face. It’s annoying as hell. And it makes you look like a jackass.

DON’T DROP THE WEIGHTS

It’s right there on the wall. Rule No. 1. Don’t drop the weights. If you have to drop them, you’re lifting too much weight. And it’s not an impressive sign of strength. It’s a distraction.

CLEAN UP, YOU SLOB

You can be kicked out of some gyms for not wiping down the equipment when you’re done. At Washburn’s wellness center, the student workers often walk around and clean the machines. Still, they can’t do that their entire shift, so you should clean up. Nobody wants to sit or lay in a puddle of somebody else’s sweat.

DON’T BE AN ASS

I don’t think the guy meant anything by it, but he was lifting with a buddy, who told him he should ask me to spot for him on an exercise. The guy said, in earshot, “He can’t handle that weight.” I promptly walked over and picked up the 80-pound dumbbell with one hand and said, “Here.” The shocked look was awesome. Be considerate. And don’t underestimate people.

Despite the above “issues” at the gym, don’t be afraid to get out there. I regret not giving it a try a lot earlier. You might even find that you enjoy it.

I’m into fitness, take 7: I did it (a 5K)!

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With one of my big inspirations, the girlfriend.

As I turned the corner for the final 50 yards of my first 5K, I thought about the long journey it took to get here. All the miles I’ve run the past few months, and in the past 15 months. All the weight lifting I’ve done this year. All the changes I’ve made in my diet.

But once I saw the large crowd, I thought of several people. There was my boss, and co-workers, cheering. They do that for everybody, but it struck me how awesome it is to have co-workers who don’t mind if I take a little longer lunch to get a workout in.

I thought of family. My father for helping me when I moved back last May, giving me a place to stay while I tried to figure out what the future held. Just as importantly, I thought about how he pushed me to work out last summer, to stick with it. How I miss our daily basketball games.

I thought of my brother, sister in law and niece and nephews, and my mom. All of them were at the hospital while I was running, attending to my mom’s husband, who had a small stroke Friday. Talk about irony.

And I thought of my girlfriend. My rock. The definition of support. There she was, clearly cold with her coat on, holding my work camera, getting photos not only of me running, but also of the event, helping me do my job. I thought, and think, I’m the luckiest man on the planet that she’s mine.

In short, I thought about how much good I have in my life. With those thoughts in my mind, it wasn’t a surprise that I ran the last quarter mile faster than I ran any other quarter mile.

In the home stretch ...

THE RACE

I thought about strategy a few minutes before the start. Mr. T’s line from Rocky III – “Strategy? Don’t need no strategy” – ran through my head. Ultimately, I decided I would start dead last, with “Welcome to the Jungle” on my iPod.

Setting my iPod to Guns n' Roses for the start

The last time I was nervous, I mean sick to my stomach nervous, was my first date with the girlfriend. Before that, you’d have to go back to high school before a baseball game. During the first quarter mile, I thought I might throw up.

A quarter mile in, I was still dead last, and fine with that. Then my stomach settled, my legs loosened and my mind relaxed. I moved past a few runners.

A few blocks later, sweat was dripping down my face. I love that during a run. Makes it feel like a good workout. About a mile in, I felt great, running faster as we crossed 17th Street and jogged through Washburn’s campus.

Halfway through, I’d passed several runners, which gave me a little confidence. Then as we jogged on the south side of campus, the course veered back to the north. Damnit, a steady incline for more than a block. I was told this was a flat course. My ass!

Moving up the pack with cat-like speed and reflexes. So much so I'm a blur.

At two miles, I was tired. Pretty much worn out. In full snot rocket mode. You know, holding one nostril and blowing snot out the other. Yes, it’s disgusting, but I’m not stopping to blow my nose. In fact, I’m not stopping for anything, period.

That’s what I told myself. You’ve put in too much work, run too many miles, crunched too many situps, pushed too many bench presses and cut out way too much cheese (as in all cheese) to stop now.

At about 2 1/2 miles, relief came in the form of a small cup of ice cold water. I’d kill to have these kids on Shunga trail handing me a cup of water during my daily runs. That got me through the next quarter mile.

I could feel my face get hot. I’m sure it was bright red. My left heel was aching. I swear I heard a voice from my shoe screaming “You masochistic son of a bitch” as I hit the 2 3/4 mile mark. No turning back now. Run it out. And I did.

There have been promotions, writing awards, sports section awards, wins in big games, some great moments in life. Finishing that 5K without walking ranks right up there. To be able to share it with family, friends and my girl … priceless.

Somebody get me a beer. And an oxygen tank.

PAY IT FORWARD

One of the best things about this fitness/lifestyle change is the support I’ve received from so many people, whether it’s a “you look great” or somebody asking how I’ve done it … it means a lot. Every compliment is HUGE.

I’ve really enjoyed sharing my story with folks. It’s awesome to have people ask about fitness. When I weighed 300 pounds less than two years ago, people asked if I wanted my meal supersized. Now they’re asking which lifts I do at the gym.

I tell people this often, and I mean it. If I can do this, you can do this. It’s worth it. Seeing your quality of life improve drastically is something everybody should experience.

You might even pass me at a 5K someday.

With the west side sign, or as the gf says, the Washburn sign.

New years and the decade in review. From Independence to Topeka to Virginia to Oklahoma …

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“Time, why you punish me, like a wave passing into the shore, you wash away my dreams …”

I was going to blog about 2009. Seemed to make sense considering today is the last of the year. It was an interesting year. One that included everything from three apartments to two jobs to one (or two, though I don’t count one) breakups.

But, inspired by a good column by Kevin Haskin, a former colleague and a guy I learned a lot from in Topeka (http://cjonline.com/sports/basketball/2009-12-30/column_closure_comes_for_the_aughts), I opted for blogging about the end of a decade.

It’s strange. It just hit me that when this decade began, I was in my early 20s, fresh out of college with my first full-time job at a newspaper, a cheap apartment in which the furnace didn’t work for a week during December and an unwarranted cocky attitude. Here’s a little rewind …

The jobs: Independence (Kansas) Daily Reporter (2000), Emporia (Kansas) Gazette (2000, 2001, 2002), McAllen (Texas) Monitor (2002, 2003), Topeka (Kansas) Capital Journal (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007), Daily Press in Newport News (Virginia) (2007, 2008, 2009) and Tulsa (Oklahoma) World (2009).

Best game covered: 2002 Class 2A championship: Colgan edges Olpe in double overtime.

Best game attended: 2007 Armageddon at Arrowhead. Electric.

Worst game attended: Olpe girls 85, Burlingame 4. You can’t make that up.

Thoughts: Six jobs in 10 years. The good thing is they’ve all been bumps in circ (from 8,000 in Indy to over 100,000 in Tulsa). I’ve done everything from covering college football and basketball beats to news copy desk to assistant sports editor.

Proud of: The amazing people I’ve worked with. Favorites over the years have included Brian Thomas in Indy; Gwen Larson and Jesse Newell (now at the LJW) in Emporia; Wade “Nacho” Baker (now the SE), Oscar, Todd and Kristin Huber in McAllen; Tim Bisel, Eric Turner, Kevin Haskin, Brent Maycock, Rick Dean, the late Pete Goering, hell, pretty much everybody in sports in Topeka; the entire sports crew (Jeff, Andi, Rupe, Sean, Clyde, Sonny, Nick and the writing staff) and select news deskers in Newport News. And while I’ve only worked three months in Tulsa, the sports deskers and writers have been nothing but nice. I’m sure I left somebody out.

The states lived in (four): Kansas, Texas, Virginia, Oklahoma.

Cities lived in (nine): Independence, Emporia, McAllen, Cottonwood Falls, Harveyville, Topeka, Williamsburg, Newport News, Tulsa.

Apartments lived in: Eight. Houses lived in: Four.

The relationships: You’re crazy if you think I’m going in-depth. There’s been a marriage, a divorce and a handful of relationships/breakups. Honestly, though, I value the time I spent with all of them, especially Melody and Jena.

I miss: Washburn and hanging out at Bullfrogs with Steve. Pete Goering, who mentored so many of us in Topeka. Turbo’s in Indy. Bruff’s in Emporia. Tom and Jerry’s in McAllen. Terry’s and Tailgator’s in Topeka. Matadive karaoke and Brickhouse (above with Charles the Steezenator) in Newport News. Cats Fu and Chu.

I don’t miss: That 75-mile commute to work from Cottonwood Falls to Topeka. The 40-mile commute from Willamsburg to Newport News. The 30-mile commute from Harveyville to Topeka. Seeing quality people cut at previous stops. My 2000 Ford Ranger or 1995 Lumina.

The sports highlights: The 2007 college football season. 2008-09 college basketball season. 2002 NCAA tournament. 2003 Royals. Most of the Chiefs 2003 season. Zack Frickin’ Greinke.

The sports lowlight: Them. Crackas. Be. Shaken. Nough said.

Last and pretty much least. The before and after. Hootie was right. Time is punishing

2000

2009