A little over two years ago, I took a chance.
I left a job I truly enjoyed in Iola, Kansas, covering high school and college sports to move to Maryville and begin covering Nodaway County athletics.
The decision was difficult, but growing up in southwest Iowa and working for the St. Joseph News-Press when I started out in journalism, I knew this community’s passion for sports and I knew the athletic success that the area has enjoyed — particularly Northwest Missouri State and Maryville High School.
I also knew the Forum’s then-managing editor Cody Thorn, who vouched for Forum publisher Phil Cobb and his passion to make the Forum stand out as the region’s best news source. I also had read a column from Phil describing what the Forum looks for in prospective employees and the love they need to have for what they do.
Long story short, Cody and Phil sold me on that vision and I took that chance to move to Maryville and become the sports editor of the Forum.
The transition to Maryville was certainly a different experience for me and it started with the region’s primary athletic brand — Northwest Missouri State. In Iola, I covered Allen Community College, a small junior college, but Northwest was a completely new animal.
The Bearcats have taught me so much about working on a college beat. While most Division-II schools have one or two outlets that provide coverage during the year, Northwest has multiple outlets at every single football and basketball game.
The competition and dealing with the athletic department has been a tremendous experience. My first year here I learned a lot through building relationships throughout the department. This past year with Colin McDonough leading the media relations effort for the Bearcats, the media that covers the Bearcats has been able to expand our coverage even further.
The coverage of Northwest’s record-setting men’s basketball season this year will forever be a highlight in my career. And that is far from the only championship I’ve had the pleasure of covering. Maryville football, Jefferson boys basketball and multiple track and cross-country athletes have won state championships and each one has been an extremely memorable experience that I had the opportunity to witness live.
I am the only person in the world who saw each one of those championships in person and for that I have to thank Phil and Chaundee Cobb. And if you enjoyed my coverage of those or any of the hundreds of other events I’ve covered each season, you have Phil and Chaundee to thank as well.
As owners of the Forum, they have given me more freedom than I likely deserve to travel the state and, on a few occasions, the country to report on the exploits of our area athletes.
I hear complaints from my friends in sports media all the time about having to be in the office and not out in the field. My office the past two years has been wherever the game has been.
That trust that they put in me when they don’t see me in the office for multiple days at a time sometimes has allowed us to cover far more games in Nodaway County than any other publication in these two years. That is completely because of them.
The newspaper business certainly has seen its competition rise in recent years with TV and internet, but you are never going to see the consistent coverage of your local news and sports from those outlets like you will from your local newspaper, particularly the Forum.
While I love the opportunities that the Forum has presented me, I have decided to take another chance.
In my interview with Phil two years ago, he asked what my career goal was. I answered that I wanted to cover major Division-I sports. A couple weeks ago, the Opelika-Auburn News gave me that opportunity.
This is my last issue of the Maryville Forum as I prepare to begin a new job as the sports editor of the Opelika-Auburn News in Opelika, Alabama next week. In addition to the high school sports there, I will also be a part of their Auburn University coverage.
Thank you to everyone I’ve worked with at the Forum, my fellow northwest Missouri sports media members, all the coaches, student-athletes and administrators I’ve worked with and most importantly the readers. All of you are what make this job so rewarding and I will forever cherish the opportunity I had to tell you these stories the past couple years.
While leaving this job and this community isn’t easy, this is a chance to continue to chase that dream.