By JUSTIN RAINS
“One day,” they said, “you’ll understand.” They, of course, were my parents. What I would understand is what it felt like to be a parent, to feel about something like they felt about me.
I never understood what they meant and, frankly, I don’t know if anyone does until the day it happens to them.
For me, that day was May 2, when my wife and I welcomed our daughter Harper into the world.
At that moment, it all changed.
Why am I telling you all this? Simple, when it all changed, it really ALL changed and because of those changes, it’s time for me to leave the Palestine Herald-Press.
The hours that small-town sportswriters — heck, small-town newspaper reporters in general —have to put in are long, and they are hard.
It’s rewarding, there is no doubt about that. But for me, a greater reward is being at home every night with my wife and my daughter. Frankly, I can’t think of anything better.
When I think back on my three years at the Herald-Press, I think about the coverage I was able to give my readers from all over the state. When I look at possibly doing that now, it’s not the coverage I focus on, but how long I’d be away from home.
That’s not fair to you, my readers.
So I’m stepping away, handing the reins of this operation for good as of July 18 to Bryan Urbach, who will no doubt take care of you in my place. Odds are, he’ll do far greater things than I have.
He’ll be doing most of the heavy lifting this next week as it is.
I couldn’t begin to sit here and write out thank yous to every person who has earned one from me during my three years here. There’s simply not enough space.
I would like to give special thanks to Herald-Press publisher Gary Connor and editor Angie Alvarado. When they gave me this job, I was a Texan living in Arizona, trying to get home.
They gave me this chair on a lot of faith, and I hope that I’ve rewarded them for that faith with my performance. Thanks as well to co-workers Cheril Vernon and Mary Rainwater, who have both been on this journey with me my entire Palestine tenure.
I’d also like to thank Palestine athletic director Lance Angel and Westwood athletic director Roger Mays. Every week during football season, both of these fine coaches put up with a reporter taking up an hour — sometimes more — of their time to pick their brain in their offices, keeping them from other work.
Thank you both for allowing me the unprecedented access to your programs that you’ve given me. By doing so, you’ve allowed me to give a better product to my readers, your fans.
That same sentiment goes to Sam Wells and Greg Jenkins and Jerry Richards and Robert Loper and Mike Heckathorn and Andy Snider, all of whom have put up with my requests for time from themselves and their coaches and their athletes.
Coaches don’t have to grant reporters access. It’s something they do voluntarily and, while I think it is for the betterment of the community as a whole, I’m thankful for it all the same.
Thanks to all the athletes that have given me a chance to cover your great careers. It’s been a pleasure to watch all of you grow and succeed on the court or the field.
Finally, my biggest thanks of all is saved for you, my readers.
I got into newspapers because I liked being able to tell stories. I thought it was great that somebody, somewhere wanted to read my version of what happened on a given night on a given field.
I love this job because of my readers, who rely on me for the story.
Thanks to those readers who called or emailed and gave me praise, and thanks all the same to those who gave me grief. Many times I deserved it, and I like to think I never made the same mistake twice.
It’s been an honor to serve the Palestine community these past three years, and I hope to continue to do so on a limit basis from time to time.
Thank you for accepting me and making me feel at home.