One final standing ovation

One of the good things about living a little is that you come across some fantastic wisdom.

One of the bad things is that you often forget who passed it along.

When I arrived at The Republic more than three years ago, I carried along with me one saying that I always have held dear. Everyone deserves at least one standing ovation in their lifetime.

I tried to apply that to the job, even if I can’t remember who told me that philosophy initially.

Throughout these past three years, I hope that The Republic sports section made many people in our community bigger than life, for at least a day, presenting them with a standing ovation. It didn’t matter if they were a high school sophomore, a senior entering the Mill Race Marathon for the very first time or a housewife trying to win the city golf tournament.

It all started when I arrived just before the high school football season, and Republic Publisher Chuck Wells basically told me that he wanted me to treat high school sports and the athletes that play them like they were the most important thing on Earth.

Those who know Chuck understand that he is very passionate about the young people in his community and the sports they play. Simply put, he loves his community.

He also made it clear that he wanted fair play across the board when it came to covering East and North, a direction that some people often suggest that I ignore.

Believe it or not, I took it to heart … even if Chuck is an East graduate.

This is my final column with The Republic as I head for Florida for new challenges in my life. In my 35 years of journalism, I never have seen an area like Columbus where the high school sports scene is healthier or more exciting.

Not only have the schools here produced amazing moments and state championships galore, the coaches put their hearts and souls into producing quality young men and women no matter the wins posted on the board.

I have been thrilled to work with most of the coaches who aren’t consumed by their own self-importance no matter how many championships they win. The students, as they should be, have been their first priority.

I also need to thank Republic sports writer Ted Schultz, who has worked alongside me since my first day. He loves his job, and that comes through every day. Also a huge thanks to our main “stringers” Cecil Davis and James Pence, our part-time writers who have made my job so much easier.

My hope is that those who read The Republic understand that my priority was entertaining all of you with stories about all of us. Shortly after I arrived, one reader wrote to me and asked that I stop writing columns about myself.

I tried to explain that in relating my own experiences, I was trying to stir the readers’ own recollections of similar experiences. From the kind letters and emails over the years, I think many of you understood.

So before I leave you with these final high school football picks for the week, I want to thank you for a very wonderful time in my life. I will cherish all the memories and all your accomplishments.

I know that I couldn’t give everyone here a standing ovation, but I hoped I hit on many of you. To those I miss, I applaud you now.

At 29-8 for the season, here are this week’s football picks. Ted Schultz will be making the picks starting next week.

Columbus East 69, Madison 6: An undefeated team against a winless team. Duh!

Columbus North 35, Perry Meridian 14: The Bull Dogs roll toward a showdown for the Conference Indiana title against Bloomington South.

Jennings County 19, Seymour 14: What a rebound season for these Panthers, who are bound to finish toward the top of the standings.

Edgewood 35, Brown County 14: It’s been a long season for the Eagles, and it’s not going to get better this week.

Milan 30, South Decatur 21: The Cougars (3-3) have a better record than Milan (2-4) but their competition hasn’t been as good.

Edinburgh 35, Traders Point 31: Another golden opportunity for the Lancers to pull out a victory.