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Homeward bound, with memories

In my time as a community journalist, one thing has become abundantly clear.

There really is no place like home.

The people. The places. The memories.

The importance of home, of community, has been magnified during my tenure at The Valley Times-News. With each passing day, I’ve met more and more folks with deep ties to the area.

This is where they grew up, and this where they chose to stay.

Close to family. Close to friends. Close to what matters most.

As I began to recognize this, it got me thinking. Ultimately, it prompted the following decision.

After four months at the Times-News — and four and a half years in Alabama — I am going back to my home, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Friday was my last day as sports editor of the newspaper.

Much thought and discourse preceded this decision. I know it is the right choice for me.

Despite my short stint in the Valley, I hope that I leave behind a positive legacy.

When I started at the paper in January, I set out to provide the area with local sports coverage both unparalleled and unprecedented in nature.

I have strived ceaselessly to reach this goal.

There have been long days and longer nights, but they have been worth it.

Readers of the Times-News deserve top-notch sports journalism.

I depart knowing that I did everything in my power to deliver that on a daily basis.

I would like to thank all of you who have allowed me to tell your stories. I also would like to thank all of you who have invested time in reading them.

Many tales I will never forget.

I am fortunate to have chronicled Lanett High School’s historic run to a third consecutive state basketball championship.

I am privileged to have written about the Panthers head basketball coach/minister, Richard Carter, a man who brings equal zeal to teaching the game and pastoring his congregation.

I am grateful to have witnessed moments like the one I saw unfold Thursday, when the Chambers Academy baseball team and its first-year head coach, Dillon NesSmith, advanced to the program’s first state final since 1999.

It was heartwarming to watch the Rebels succeed.

Truthfully, I can say the same about all of the teams, athletes and coaches I’ve covered.

That sentiment doesn’t stem from fandom, but rather from personal relationships, forged through time and ink.

It is the people who have made this job rewarding. It is the people who make it hard to leave behind, though I know I leave the sports section in good hands.

Rashad Milligan, a talented young journalist from Atlanta, will begin as sports editor on Wednesday.

I’m sure the Valley area will welcome him with open arms, just as it did for me. 

Thank you all, for everything.