The holidays are a time that many people look back and reflect. The end of the year allows us to be thankful for the previous 365 days we have had while allowing us to look forward to a new set of days to come. As I sit here on four hours of sleep, with eight stories to write and dozens of pictures to edit, the emotions of the last years’ events hit me. Maybe it’s the emotion of the holidays that has me thinking, maybe it’s from a week of other things, but whatever caused it, I am glad I took the time to write this. See, I am one of the lucky few; I have a great outlet for something like this, a job that allows me and encourages me to be creative. A job that allows me to express myself through writing.
But I need to tell you, the reader, something. Something I need the community to know.
THANK YOU. That’s it, thank you. If you stopped reading now, you would have the basics of this column in less than a minute. But I hope you keep reading to know just why I am saying thank you to everyone.
See, I never thought I would be a writer, I still have a hard time calling myself that. I have my good and bad days. Some days, the corrections to my articles from John and Jack McLoone frustrate me to no end. Some I understand, others I don’t. There are rules to writing for newspapers that I pick up by messing up, there are rules I break now and then because, well, I am making an appeal to you, the reader, to step back a moment and feel what I feel.
I want you to feel the pride for our student athletes, the love of the game, the sadness for a community loss, the excitement for a community win. I want stories to go beyond the score or the stats or the cost of a project. I interject little pieces of emotion into my stories because it makes a connection with you.
I’m a connector before I am a writer. I connect with the athletes in the programs we cover, I connect with the parents and the coaches. I laugh with them, I cry with them, I share the collective pride with them, I share the frustrations, the excitement. This has been the most fulfilling job I have ever had on a level I cannot even begin to describe.
This is what I am thankful for. We are nine months removed from one of the coolest experiences I have ever had the opportunity to be a small part of; the State Wrestling meet. Let me tell you, the long days at the Xcel Energy Center were worth it. I witnessed incredible things that day and I learned a lot from kids that are the right age to be my own.
Being mat side witnessing Blake Beissel and Skylar Little Soldier become state champions was awesome. Seeing Skylar point to her family after her final win, chilling. Seeing Mr. Cool himself, Blake, the kid that never shows emotion after any win, scream and flex then breakdown with tears of joy as he jumped into his grandfather’s arms, then frantically search for his mom and dad. Well, let’s just say, I’m looking for the bag of partially peeled onions at my desk.
Those five minutes were a blur. I was supposed to remain the professional, but I lost it when he jumped into grandpa’s arms. I could not see, so all I did was point my camera his way and keep pressing that button. The pictures from that sequence of events still get to me. I was the guy that was lucky enough to capture that moment for them and for you.
Being on the field after the last football game or the basketball court of the season and watching the tears flow from the student athletes who have worked together for months for one goal is moving. Having some of the kids I have built relationships with come give me hugs with tears in their eyes is even more so, being able to cry with them and tell them I am proud of them and glad we had a chance to get to know one another, that is priceless.
This is what I am thankful for. I have people in stores that come up to me to thank me for stories I have written or pictures I have taken. I love hearing the impact that a story has on people. I love that people enjoy the stories I am fortunate enough to tell. I appreciate all the feedback I get, in today’s world, there needs to be more of that positive feedback. I know I slip up now and then and I make a few mistakes, or something does not come out right, but the understanding and the support of the community at large does not burn me at the stake for those mistakes, they accept my apologies and move on.
This is what I am thankful for. I could not do this job without the support of local businesses. Local businesses supporting local businesses. My ask of you is to do the same, support the businesses in Hastings, especially the ones that you see every week in these pages supporting local journalism. Local journalism is a vital piece of the community. We do our best to keep our coverage of things positive but there are stories that need to be told that are all but positive and we try to do that with kindness and grace. Our local advertisers allow us to do that. We give you more than just the scores of high school sports, we brag about these awesome kids. Our local advertisers allow us to do that. Next time you go out to eat, or shop or maybe you are friends with a local business owner. Thank them for supporting local journalism.
Read back on the story the state wrestling meet and thank the local businesses for supporting me in covering these awesome kids. Every advertiser past, present and future needs to know how much it means to me to have the support to do this. If you own a business, I hope you consider advertising with us knowing what you can help me do. Without our advertisers, I would not be able to tell those stories. I would not have a chance to have a positive impact on these kids and they would not have a chance to impact me.
This is what I am most thankful for.