There is a reason I’m disturbingly modest.
As I scribble down my final thoughts as the current longest-tenured member of The Scout while listening to “Hamilton’s” “One Last Time,” I’m yet again hit with this feeling that reminds me why.
Hold on now.
Don’t peg me for a gross, sappy and sentimental excuse for a teddy bear just yet.
I’m not talking about feelings of sadness for writing my last article; I’m going to be writing for the rest of my life (hopefully), so that might happen a few more times.
This feeling I’m talking about is irony.
This: My entire Scout career.
It’s the feeling I get when I’ve finished a long, drawn-out feature or a story I’ve waited until the last day to write, and I’ve never really known how to feel about it until now.
Although it’s not the best story I’ve ever told in my life, this ridiculously personal anecdote stems from my pre-college days, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
To be blunt, I was the worst writer you’d ever seen not too long ago.
I was so bad, it took me hours upon days to churn out simple essays in my Catholic high school.
Before that, I was so bad, a grade school teacher told my father she thought I was learning impaired.
That’s how bad I was, but I’m relieved to say it got kind of better.
Yes, Mr. Chris Kaergard, bellow out your sighs of relief, you didn’t hire a learning-impaired writer at the Journal Star for the last two months.
In my imagination, this is where you, the lovely, loyal readers, ask, “Gee, Chris, how the hell did you get better?”
Thanks for asking.
Well, it was a conglomeration of many things. Classes and college in general helped, yes, but ultimately, The Scout molded me into the journalist-for-hire I am today.
It starts the day my former Managing Editor and first college friend, Kristin Kreher, unknowingly changed my life and told former Sports Editor Alex Ross I was interested in writing for The Scout.
I’ve gotten torn down to be rebuilt, somehow taking in a different lesson every time. And throughout that process, realized the power in writing.
Words are really just emotions packed into small spaces, down to their last letter.
I’ve realized how a well thought out article with well placed words was the difference between getting a limp pat on the back at critique and a passive aggressive threatening by Bradley’s Athletic Department.
And that, no matter how many times I told myself my writing was utter shit, you don’t have to be a Pulitzer Prize winner for someone, somewhere, to enjoy what you’ve written.
While that’s what I’ve learned in my three years at The Scout, I obviously didn’t learn it overnight.
Under Vickie and Gretchen, I learned how to write. Under Sam and Kristin, I learned how to write well. Under Tessa and Tori, I learned how to be confident enough to realize that I got to be pretty good at my job.
In those three years, I’ve seen three generations of Scout in my time. They’ve all yielded different people, but in reality, they’ve all become one Scout fam to me.
To Voice with Kelly, Kristin, Walls, Jaylyn and Lisa doing ungodly, distracting things, thanks.
To News with Sam, Kristin, Vickie, Gretchen, Tessa, Tori, Michael and Maddie, thanks for making my writing ungodly better.
To Mr. Chris Kaergard for believing I was good enough to be a professional journalist, thanks.
And to Sports, where Aaron and Garth challenged me to create a Sports section of my very own, thanks isn’t good enough.
Especially Garth, who put up with more of me than he probably needed to for at least five lifetimes; I hope I did right by you, as you did right by me.
This is a job that has taken me 916.4 miles across the U.S.
Between two trips to Illinois State, two trips to Chicago for the Illinois College Press Association awards and one trip each for the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament and the NCAA baseball regionals, I’ve done a lot.
I’ve even shaken a president’s hand and been blessed by Jane Leavy, the Mother Teresa of sports writers.
Sometimes, it’s easy to let that aforementioned feeling dictate my life, as it has before. But, sitting back and looking at what’s been done the last two and a half years, I have no reason to anymore.
I’ve gotten so much from this place, and I’m glad to say I can call myself a good writer.
Even so, as a I take my leave of the tiny hole in the wall which was my home, almost too literally, I find myself putting things in perspective.
I’ve done so much in three years; I wasn’t perfect, but I realize there’s so much ahead of me.
As it’s said in the musical “Hamilton,” I am not throwing away my shot. I just have to write non-stop.