It is time to say goodbye to the Daily Pilot.
It has been nearly 32 years since my first Daily Pilot byline, then as a college intern who had no clue that more than half my life, and my entire professional existence, would unfold with this company.
It has been an amazing, fun, fulfilling, challenging and rewarding experience and I am beyond fortunate to have spent this time in community journalism, in this particular community, as a full-time Daily Pilot sportswriter since 1990, after three years as sports editor of the Huntington Beach Independent.
I am also blessed to be moving forward of my own volition, open to new challenges and opportunities, with profound fondness for the memories that my time here has spawned.
I've seen amazing athletic feats, chronicled historic victories and soul-crushing defeats, and profiled athletes, coaches and others within the orbit of my duties. I have also been part of a Daily Pilot team that has generated great pride and a sense of accomplishment.
There is, of course sadness. I can't accurately know now how much I will miss doing this job. But I am aware that it will be difficult to recapture the recurring anticipation for the next game, the next season, the next story.
With such a vast canvas of memories, the colors and recollection bleed liberally into one another, though some memories surface with greater clarity.
Between the lines, there were Newport Harbor High's four CIF football titles, UC Irvine's four NCAA men's volleyball championships, UCI baseball's success, including a run to the 2007 College World Series, and the state final appearances of Estancia boys' basketball and Costa Mesa girls' basketball. A couple of Corona del Mar CIF baseball and boys' basketball championships come to mind, as do some Orange Coast College state baseball crowns, and the CIF volleyball supremacy of the boys' and girls' programs of Back Bay rivals Newport Harbor and CdM.
Individually, Jeff Brinkley, John Speraw, Mike Gillespie, Dan Glenn, Charlie Brande, John Altobelli, Mike Thornton, Tim O'Brien, Dave White, Steve Conti, John Emme, Russ Davis, Albert Gasparian, John Savage, Bill Barnett, Bruce Rollinson and Bill Sumner top my list of supremely talented coaches who have earned legendary status.
Other coaches, administrators and folks I greatly admire and have enjoyed associating with include Paul Troxel, Doug Deats, Larry Hirst, Eric Tweit, Tony Altobelli, Paul Orris, Rhett Soliday, Myron Miller,
Professionally, I am most proud to be associated with Roger Carlson and Richard Dunn, and I was also blessed to share cubicle configurations with Steve Virgen, Matt Szabo, Bryce Alderton, Molly Yanity, Dennis Brosterhous and John Ferguson.
The Daily Pilot was, I believe, never stronger than with Tom Johnson and Bill Lobdell running the show, and I am appreciative of the support of current Times Community News Executive Editor John Canalis.
Space limitations prohibit listing all the athletes who have provided unlimited thrills, so I have narrowed the list to my top 25 favorites. They are, in alphabetical order: Brett Baker (Newport Harbor football); Nicole Ballestero (Vanguard women’s basketball); Kaleaph Carter (Edison football, track and field);
Wherever the next challenge takes me, I will be keeping an eye on the schools, teams and coaches that have filled so many notepads, and column inches. Hopefully, our paths will cross again.