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Looking back and moving on; my farewell to Jasper County sports

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012 12:21 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012 12:22 p.m. CDT

In order to move on, one must leave something behind. And so must I.

It’s with a bittersweet heart I inform you that Wednesday will be my final day as an employee of the Newton Daily News.

Back in mid-November, I accepted an assistant sports editor position at the Fond du Lac Reporter in east-central Wisconsin. That’s where I’ll primarily be working, but the position also is involved with the nearby Oshkosh Northwestern. Both news companies are owned by Gannett, which owns the Des Moines Register.

It’s a nice opportunity for me to further my journalism career. I’ll be working for a considerably larger circulation and will have more responsibility, getting to try my hand at more of an editorial position.

A city of 43,000, Fond du Lac (French for ‘Foot of the Lake’) is situated at the bottom of Lake Winnebago. It’s about an hour from Milwaukee and Green Bay and 90 minutes from my hometown of Oregon — which is 10 minutes south of Madison. So location-wise, it’s pretty much perfect for me. It’s right in the middle of everything. Newton is nearly a four-hour drive to Oregon.

It’s been a hectic last couple weeks. Apartment-hunting, getting my Internet/cable/utilities services stopped, changing banks and figuring out moving logistics is quite a chore.

I move out of Newton Friday, into my new apartment in Fond du Lac Saturday and then my first day on the job is Sunday — which happens to be my 26th birthday. It’ll be a hell of a weekend.

I’m very thankful for the opportunity the Newton Daily News gave me. This was the first full-time job I had out of college. I’ve been here since Aug. 27, 2010, a span of about 2 years and four months.

In that time, I know my writing skills have improved greatly. This job required me to cover and educate myself on the complete array of high school sports. I had also never taken sports photos before arriving in Newton. I had to learn it on the fly when I got here, and now it’s something I feel I’m pretty skilled in.

I remember when I first moved here I thought, ‘How am I — a die-hard Packer and Badger fan — going to exist in a state without a professional sports team and live in Hawkeye and Cyclone territory?’ I’ll admit, it hasn’t always been easy. I’ve missed my cheesehead brethren and will enjoy being surrounded by them again soon. But I eventually realized that I could still love my Wisconsin teams like always. My fanhood is stronger than ever.

Not to offend any Hawkeyes, but I’ve become a Cyclone fan by association. It started with the Cy-Hawk football game at Jack Trice Stadium back in September of 2011. I was down on the sidelines taking photos, and with the way the game went (Iowa State won 44-41 in triple overtime) and watching the Cyclone fans storm the field won me over. Plus, I don’t think Wisconsin would accept me back if I became pro-Hawkeye.

In these past few days, it’s hit me how much I’m going to miss Iowa. Besides Newton, I’m definitely going to miss Des Moines and Ames. I spent a lot of time in both. I’m going to miss the Drake Relays, Wells Fargo Arena and Iowa Speedway. I’ll really miss working out at the Newton YMCA during the week.

I have a lot of great memories of this place. Little things like working out with the Newton wrestling team. Seeing Prairie-City-Monroe’s Scott Bruxvoort throw down five dunks in a home game against Collins-Maxwell-Baxter last year. Watching Newton’s Evan Rethmeier rally back from losing his first match of the 2011 state wrestling tournament to take fourth place. Being there to see the Lynnville-Sully girls basketball team go to three straight state tournaments. Collin Reynolds’ many spectacular catches for the Newton football team. Causing Zac Effron’s security to patrol me around the Iowa Speedway infield after getting a little to close to him while taking photos.

Those are just a handful of the memories here I won’t forget.

Also in the time I’ve been here, I lost 80 pounds — for a total of 110 since graduating college. I did it within my first year of living here, and have kept it off since. The Packers won the Super Bowl and Wisconsin went to three straight Rose Bowls. I don’t have much to complain about. The only sad part is I have many goodbyes to make before I move. I made a lot of good friends here.

I want to extend a big thank you to all the Jasper County coaches for all their cooperation with helping us cover their teams. And another big thank you to any parents and athletes that have offered their thanks or compliments. Like an offensive lineman in football, being a sports writer tends to be a pretty thankless profession. So when you receive praise, it feels pretty good.

It’s been great, Newton. I wish all the teams around here the best of luck, and I’ll certainly keep tabs on you guys. Go Cards!

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