I’m done in Dunn, but I’ll never forget you

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I had no idea what I was getting into when I first joined The Daily Record back in September 2018.

The only thing I knew about Harnett County was that it was home to Campbell University, my dad’s alma mater, which he had always described as being “in the middle of nowhere.” But it had already been three months since I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I had been passed up for several jobs in bigger cities, and I needed to find somewhere I could get a start. So I figured Dunn was as good of a place as any to begin my career.

But I didn’t know saying goodbye 16 months later would be this hard.

This is my final week covering high school games. I’ll be moving to Charlotte to start working at Sporting News in February. It’s still a bit surreal to me.

In the 507 days I’ve worked at The Daily Record, I’ve been blessed to cover some great teams, as well as some so-so teams and even some not-so-great teams. But no matter where I’ve gone or who I’ve covered, I’ve always had the pleasure of being surrounded by a fantastic community.

That starts with the staff at The Daily Record. I couldn’t be more thankful to former editor Lisa Farmer, who took a chance on a baby-faced college graduate and gave me free range to come up with ideas on how to shape our sports coverage while also offering insights on the ins and outs of each community we cover. And I’m thankful for current editor Emily Weaver, who’s done a fantastic job following in Lisa’s footsteps and maintaining the high standards for hyper-local news coverage The Daily Record has held for many years.

I also want to thank all my co-workers who made me feel welcome from the day I stepped into the office, especially my fellow newsroom workers (Laura Patterson, Rick Curl, Eliot Duke, Tony Feagin and former reporter Tom Woerner). Work is work, but it’s a lot more fun when you know you’ll be around people you enjoy, and people who are passionate about delivering the community the news coverage it deserves.

Outside of the office, I’ve been lucky to witness some incredible games, interview some impressive athletes and get to know coaches who make an impact on young lives every single day. I’ve made so many great memories that there were too many to try to fit into the print edition, so check the online version for some personal anecdotes from each school.

I still remember the day, early in my time at The Daily Record, when a woman called, thanking me for the Student-Athlete story I wrote on her daughter and telling me she wanted to get it framed. The thought that my words might live on forever, hung up on a wall in someone’s house or on a refrigerator in someone’s kitchen was something that brought me unprecedented joy. It’s something I tried to consider with every story I wrote: “Make this story worth holding onto. Make your words mean something.” So to anyone who’s ever held onto a newspaper clipping, shared an article I wrote, reached out to thank me or even to offer constructive criticism — thank you.

It’s going to be hard not working on the local sports beat anymore. While I may not have had any connection to the area before I came here, I’ve come to know and love each of the individual communities that I’ve covered. I’m so curious to see how South’s boys basketball team finishes the season, how Josiah Beasley finishes his swimming career and Michael Carvin finishes his wrestling career at Triton, whether or not Central’s softball team can reload and win a third-straight conference title, how Hobbton’s baseball team does in Jason Fussell’s first season and how Midway does with Cory Barnes filling his place. There are so many great stories yet to be written for these schools, and while I may no longer be the one writing them, you can bet that I’ll be avidly reading about all the teams from the place that became my second home.

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