Almost 13 years ago, I began a journey far from home to be sports editor for the Sedalia Democrat.
Prior to arriving here in 2001, I had lived my entire life in southeast Missouri, dividing my time among four newspapers.
In the spring of 2001, I sought a change of scenery, and the Democrat needed a sports editor.
I interviewed with former editor Oliver Wiest and the rest is history.
The move was particularly bold for me after spending the first 31½ years of my life in communities such as Dexter, Cape Girardeau, Kennett and Poplar Bluff.
When I moved here, I knew one person – then-State Fair Community College men’s basketball coach Bill Barton. I had become acquainted with him while covering the Three Rivers Community College Raiders in Poplar Bluff.
The time has arrived once again for a change of scenery. With the recent death of my father, family became a subject I couldn’t ignore, and my uncle made me an offer I couldn’t refuse – a job in the vintage car business that featured more money, less stress and the chance to be close to family again.
I will miss a lot of people in the sports community from coaches to athletes to fans.
Here’s a nod to a few of them:
Longtime Sedalia Post 642 Travelers manager Bill Dey was a wonderful source for the history of Sedalia baseball. He led his final Travelers squad to the state final four in the early 2000s.
Tipton football coach Tony Braby, Cole Camp coach Kevin Shearer and former Warsaw football coach Randy Morrow always made me look forward to the high school football season. They are three of the nicest people I’ve ever met and were always great to work with.
Marlin Hammond, a former coach and athletic director at Lincoln High School, was a wealth of knowledge when it came to the Kaysinger Conference and was one of the most respected coaches I had the honor to work with.
I recently witnessed one of the most successful local basketball seasons on record. Sacred Heart won the Class 2 boys state championship. Both the State Fair Community College men’s and women’s basketball teams advanced to the national tournament. Led by Sedalian Kim Anderson, the Central Missouri Mules won the NCAA Division II men’s basketball championships, and Anderson then landed his dream job at Mizzou.
Speaking of Sacred Heart, the Gremlins have won seven state championships since I’ve been here: three boys golf titles, two volleyball championships, one boys basketball crown and one baseball title.
While I never watched a prep football team win a state championship, this area has produced several teams who were capable but couldn’t win the big one.
The 2008 Smith-Cotton football team, probably the best team in the area since I arrived, advanced to the Class 4 state quarterfinals where they lost to perennial power Kearney.
The Warsaw Wildcats finished second in the state in the early 2000s and won multiple district championships.
The Tipton Cardinals reached the state semifinals five times since I’ve been here and won 68 straight regular-season games at one point.
Sedalia was introduced to indoor football and summer college baseball during my stay.
The Missouri Minutemen and the Mid-Missouri Outlaws called Sedalia home. Jud Kindle brought the Sedalia Bombers to Liberty Park Stadium-Dey Field and they competed in the NBC World Series twice.
I’m going to miss my time in west central Missouri and hope for more athletic successes in the years to come.