Mitchell: Memories will live on long after I’ve left
Post Independent Sports Editor
Some things are a lot different from how I remembered them when I rejoined the newspaper staff of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and Rifle Citizen Telegram 2 1/2 years ago.
My first time around was right at the turn of the century. The paper, and its press, were still at the south end of Grand Avenue. Oh, and officially, the daily paper was still called The Glenwood Post.
We still used film to take photos. Now-retired Mike Wilde was still announcing basketball games from a crow’s nest at the top of the old GSHS gym. The concept of building a new high school in between Silt and New Castle was in the initial stages. And in my first staff meeting as a member of the paper, we discussed how it was that we were going to cover the potential Y2K scare on New Year’s Eve of 1999. I remember a guy named Mike Wiggins — someone I went to college with and is now the managing editor of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel — was all hyped up to do the “fun shift.”
Meanwhile, I joined the staff and was still six months away from graduating from what was then Mesa State College in May 2000.
That makes me feel old.
Lucky for me, despite going from having the metabolism of a hummingbird to having the metabolism of a turtle thanks to being 15 years older, I still look somewhat young. That’s a far cry from some of the people who I saw this past summer at my 20-year high school reunion in Colorado Springs. Time hasn’t been as kind to some of them.
There’s still a lot of similarities from my first gig here at the turn of the century, however. Among them is the fact that people are genuine, kind and caring. They recognize good people and aren’t afraid to let people know if something is wrong. In my line of work, honesty is always appreciated — even the occasional dose of brutal honesty.
With that, here’s a statement of utmost honesty from me: It saddens me to be leaving again.
At the same time, however, it doesn’t.
Let me explain.
I’m leaving because I’ve taken a job as a sports reporter at the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. It gives me a chance to focus on a few of the things I’ve become good at during my time in this industry while allowing me to have a little extra free time away from work.
Granted, I’m lucky enough that I’ve never completely looked at my job as work. Back during the recession when I was recently divorced and driving a truck for a living, for example, I freelanced high school football games for the PI and Sentinel because I saw it more as a hobby and a pastime than a second job. But when a full-time opening came around here, I made sure to jump on it.
During this stretch of time, I’ve developed tremendous relationships that I no doubt will keep for years to come — which brings me to my other reason for leaving.
By chance, or fate, or whatever you want to call it, I met April Russell. Our relationship blossomed right away, and we continued to travel to and from Grand Junction — where she and her daughter, Kahlan, live — to see and spend time with each other.
Then an opening at the Sentinel came up, and I jumped on it.
Then another opening came up. I bought a ring, took April and Kahlan hiking to Thomas Lakes south of Carbondale and asked April to marry me this past Sunday.
She said yes.
I’m extremely lucky.
Sunday’s euphoric moment was one of many great memories I’ve accumulated since I’ve been here this time, but the time has come to move on and make different memories. There’s a long list of people who have made these recent memories happen, too.
Thanks to all of the athletic directors in the area who have practically been on call for me all of this time: Craig Denney, Mike Aragon, Marty Nieslanik, Troy Phillips and David Walck. It’s hard to compare anyone to this quality group of guys.
Thanks to all of the players I’ve gotten a chance to watch, cover and interview over the past three seasons. It’s been a joy to see you develop, and it’ll be a joy to see where you end up.
Thanks to all the coaches in the area who put up with me blowing up their phones to get scores and stats, yet still helped me write stories about losses and other things that aren’t exactly easy to write about. You’re the ones who make doing my job effectively possible.
Thanks to all of the recreation directors and youth sports parents who have been understanding with how I’ve done things in my time here. My goal has always been to treat everyone equally and give kids and adults their due props when it’s deserved. I’d like to believe we’ve done that.
Thanks to PI editors Drew Munro and Randy Essex for, well, putting up with me.
Thanks to everyone who has been on the staff of the Citizen Telegram and Post Independent during my time here. They’ve witnessed everything from my monologues that might make Jon Stewart laugh to profanity laced tirades when I’m close to missing deadline. Thanks for, well, putting up with me.
Thanks to April. You’ve taught me how to love again.
Above all, however, thanks to all of you in Garfield County and beyond who have shown me your passion and knowledge over the years, which as helped me turn this former hobby and pastime of mine into a full-time profession again.
Thanks for the memories.
Jon Mitchell’s final day at the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and Rifle Citizen Telegram is today. After that, he can be reached at JonnyMitch34@gmail.com.
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