Let’s have some fun

Sometimes you just get that vibe. My first trip to Columbus was one of those times.

I had never been to this community prior to my interview for The Republic’s sports editor position last month, but from the moment I approached the Stewart Bridge and caught my first glimpse of downtown, any preconceived notions I might have had about what to expect from a small southern Indiana city went out the driver’s side window. I got that vibe. Columbus just felt fun.

I am a big fan of fun. So here I am. Hello.

Although I am new to the area, I’m no stranger to the state of Indiana. I graduated from Notre Dame in 1996, and after a few years back in my native Massachusetts, I came back to the Midwest and worked on the sports staff at The Times of Northwest Indiana. I spent five-plus years covering my alma mater for Blue & Gold Illustrated before moving to West Lafayette, where I worked on the sports desk at the Journal & Courier.

Having done what feels like a full lap around the Hoosier State, my family and I are hoping that this will be our last move.

I’m eager to immerse myself in the Columbus sports scene. I can’t wait to get a taste of the rivalry between the Olympians and the Bull Dogs. I want to watch North girls basketball and Hauser softball attempt to replicate their state championship runs. I want to ride shotgun along with everyone else in town as Tony Stewart takes his final lap as a NASCAR driver. I want to watch people cross the finish line at the Mill Race Marathon, tell myself that I want to join them next year, then immediately talk myself out of it because even thinking about running that far makes me ache all over the place.

More than anything, though, I want to tell your stories. And I don’t mean play-by-play. I mean stories.

Too often, we get caught up in stats and clichés when writing and talking about sports, but it really isn’t about the numbers.

It’s about moments. It’s about that rush you get when you see something incredible happen — or, better yet, when you make it happen.

It’s about personalities — and not just the personalities of the coaches or their star players. It’s the little quirks and secret handshakes and rituals that every team and every athlete have. It’s the people behind the scenes. It’s all of the little things that come together to create something huge.

The reason most sports journalists choose such a career path in the first place is a simple one. We do it because sports are fun. They’re an oasis in a world that is often far less fun than we’d like. We spend a lot of time clashing with one another over petty differences. But when a local team has one of those magical seasons, the entire community comes together to enjoy the ride.

My goal in life has always been to never wake up dreading going to work — and for the most part, I’ve been able to achieve that. Sports aren’t supposed to be work. They’re supposed to be fun. And they usually are.

I’m looking forward to having a lot of fun with all of you here in Columbus.

Ryan O’Leary is the sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at roleary@therepublic.com.