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Many times in these columns I’ve written about how I came to Grant County right before my 22nd birthday.
Now, I’m leaving about two months before I turn 25.
Over the course of those three years, I’ve learned a lot about this county and the people within.
During my first few months here, I learned the lay of the land and met a lot of people who helped me get acquainted with my new home.
While I was learning about Grant County, I was also learning about becoming a reporter with on the job training. When I came here, I had been a stringer for my local newspaper during summers, covering a couple games. But I didn’t really learn how to be a news writer until I came up here. My editor, Jamie Baker-Nantz, took a chance on me and I hope that three years later, she can be proud of what I’ve learned.
I would learn to listen to the scanner and respond during fires, storms and breaking news, documenting the events with pictures.
I sat in fiscal court, school board and city council meetings, learning about what it takes to run the county, cities and schools.
At first, it was hard to find my voice when I was writing. I wanted to do people justice when telling their stories, but I also had to learn what it takes to write a story that is interesting while also getting in the important facts.
After a year, I became the sports writer, jumping into the fall season without much knowledge of what to expect. After a year of learning how to write, I had a new challenge ahead of me: learning how to cover sports.
For the past two years, I spent weeknights and weekends taking pictures and covering the important moments in Grant County’s sports history. That’s what I truly believe I was doing. I wasn’t only writing stories to entertain for each issue, but I was also documenting the history of this county’s athletic achievements.
Earlier this year, Grant County High School inaugurated the first class of their Athletic Hall of Fame and as I talked with the initiates, I would look through our archives (books of each issue bound together) and see faces look back at me from the past.
It struck me that one day, someone might be writing a story about an athlete that I covered and see what I wrote and the pictures that I took and understand just what those athletes accomplished.
While I was a staff writer and a sports writer, I also covered two schools at a time. For the first two years, they were Mason-Corinth Elementary and Grant County High School. This past year, I swapped GCHS for Crittenden-Mount Zion Elementary. But I was also in and out of all the schools in the county and that was an aspect of my job that I loved.For three years, I got to see students shine during the accomplishments.
The best part of my job was getting out and seeing some great games. I’ve stood in rain, strong wind, scorching sun and some flat out terrible weather because the athletes I was covering were doing the same thing. All I was doing was taking pictures and writing notes while they were out there giving their best effort to be successful. It’s funny what you can learn from people.
These kids that are younger than me were re-teaching me a lesson that I had learned a long time ago. As long as they give everything they’ve got, they’ve got nothing to be ashamed of, win or lose. I took that mentality when covering sports. If I gave as much of myself to this job, I could leave this job knowing that I did everything I could to make the most of this opportunity.
I’m leaving to move to Tennessee as I try to transition into a new field, going back to school to get a Masters in Business Administration. Doing my best job meant giving up my weeknights and weekends, but I’m ready to have that time back.
The hardest part of leaving this job is saying goodbye to the people that I’ve come to know over the past three years. Over the past two weeks, I’ve said goodbye to a lot of people and I know I’ll leave without saying goodbye to a lot of people who have helped me. But saying goodbye has helped me understand just how much my time in Grant County has meant to me.
I’d like to say thank you to everyone in this county and a special thanks to everyone at the paper for helping someone make a new home. I hope that I have made an impression on this county and the people in it, because I know the impression it has made on me.
Over the past three years, I have called Grant County home and I wouldn’t have changed that for anything.
(Ryan Naus is the sports writer for the Grant County News. He can be reached at 824-3343 or by e-mail at email@example.com.)