One last time

Josh Johnston

One of the first track meets I covered my freshman year was an outdoor meet at Akron. The weather was cold, rainy and windy, but I decided to forgo wearing a coat that day.

That was my first mistake as a sports journalist.

My hands were shaking so much I couldn’t take notes. Track and field coach Bill Lawson jokingly asked me if I wasn’t getting paid enough to afford a coat (I wasn’t). A few people on the team even offered their warm-up jackets to me.

Six semesters later, I’m turning in my final words for the sports page. I’ve written about Mid-American Conference basketball and mixed martial artists. I’ve traveled to Boston College for football and Ball State for volleyball. I’ve seen a no-hitter, a new athletic director and a never-say-die running back. I’ve covered half a dozen teams at Kent State and interviewed countless athletes, coaches, trainers and athletic administrators.

I should be more emotional about leaving the sports staff. But I’m not.

Somewhere along the line, I burned out. Watching games became a chore. Following teams on the road became a headache. Writing on deadline became an absolute pain (actually, I’ve always felt that. I really hate overtime periods).

That was my second mistake as a sports journalist. I forgot what I loved about this job.

The first sports editors I worked under here told me how to write, but then showed me how to enjoy the job. They taught me how to appreciate the little things, like watching a buzzer-beating, game-winning shot or complaining about how terrible Muncie, Ind., is (and believe me, it is). They also introduced me to the music of Jethro Tull, but that’s another story.

This job has been time-consuming, stressful and draining. But for as much as it’s burned me out, I wouldn’t take back the last six semesters of it.

This final column really isn’t as much for the reader as it is for the staff I leave behind.

I’ve spent two semesters as sports editor. My staff probably doesn’t want (or need) more advice from me, so here’s the final thing I’ll say: Love what you do, and don’t take it for granted. I mean, we get paid to watch sports for God’s sake. We have the best jobs in Franklin Hall.

Don’t forget that.

Contact sports editor Josh Johnston at [email protected].