It was my first day on the job. I was trying to temper my anxiousness while downplaying my excitement level. I had never been a sports editor. I had the credentials and the college degree that told me I was qualified to do the job, but my lack of experience was a little more than overwhelming.
I was sitting at my desk, adjusting the one picture of my wife and child — trying to figure out what empty space I wanted to occupy with my one belonging — while waiting for a mountain of paperwork to hit my desk. No, I wasn’t that important, Human Resources just enjoyed giving me carpal tunnel.
Then I met my sports writer for the first time and the welcoming exchange was a bit odd to say the least.
“Hi, welcome to hell,” he said as he shook my hand.
While I found that welcome to be strange and a bit amusing, those words have always stuck with me. Fast forwarding three years, I can honestly say this is often a thankless job with long hours, late nights and some pretty far traveling. However, I wouldn’t have traded any of it for the world.
“Hell” was a bit of an over reach, my colleague Frank Lewis likes to say the Daily Times is often a beacon of “free speech,” meaning our reporters are not censored or forced to write articles conflicting with their beliefs.
I agree with Frank, my time in Portsmouth has been positive and I’ve had the opportunity to tell some stories that have really captivated me, as well as my readers — hopefully. As a sports editor, I’ve obviously written my fair share of sports stories, but I’ve also written news stories and features, and I’ve always given each story the due diligence it deserved. If I even touched one reader, then I always counted it as a success.
However, despite the lifelong memories I have enjoyed and the people who I really built friendships with along the way, my time at the Daily Times has finally reached its conclusion. I made a decision to pursue another opportunity that will benefit my family in the long run. My decision to leave the Daily Times was very difficult and not one I took lightly.
There are so many relationships I have made that I will forever cherish and I’m hopeful they will continue even after I leave Portsmouth. I cannot begin to thank all the people that helped me become the writer I am today. However, I will attempt to give it a try.
I would first like to thank Ben Johnson, Steven Ater and JD McKenzie. Those three vouched for my abilities as a writer and when I needed them, they showed me I could count on them and I’ll be forever grateful.
To all the coaches, players, parents and athletic directors who provided me with statistics, pictures, interviews or many other items I probably asked for, I will always be appreciative.
As far as my co workers are concerned, they say you spend more time at work than with your own family and while I can honestly believe that’s true, I appreciate all the laughs we’ve shared, the struggles we’ve endured together and the countless times we always seemed to lean on each other for support.
When I first began my tenure at the Daily Times, I kept a piece of paper in the drawer beside my desk that told me the teams I covered and their mascot names. Now as I depart, I am an Associated Press award-winning journalist, which is obviously the highlight of my career to this point and it happened right here at the Daily Times.
So, as I head off to the next step in my career, to anyone I have built up a relationship with over the last three years, you have my cell phone number, please keep in touch. To anyone else who wants to say hello from time to time, you can always reach me at [email protected]
And as I say goodbye, I can only envision the famous words from Dandy Don Meredith, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over. They say that all good things must end.”
Reach Chris Slone on Twitter @crslone.