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, Stacey King, Fumi Kimura, Dave Holland, Mike Bargas, Tom Pestolesi, Travis Turner, Bob Wilson, Chris Sorce, Rich Boyce, Scott Juniper, Ed Arnold, Mike Milner, Jim Harris, Pete Bonny, Lisa McNamee, Kirk Bauermeister, Ken Millard, Paul Salata, Bob Serven, Dave Brown, Lance Stewart, Terry Henigan, Steve Keith, Laird Hayes, Ollie Martin, George Kuntz, Dave Serrano, Molly Goodenbour, Bob Olson, Paul Hope, Tim Mang, Shannon Jakosky, Mark Cunningham, Art Perry, John Liebengood, Tom Baldwin, Tony Ciarelli, David Kniffin, Mark Presho, Doug Bennett, Judy Ayers, Buck Johns, Keith Shackleford, Nolan Steputis, Ryan O’Donnell, Dean Crowley, Mike Daniels, Mike Villamor, Joe Urban Sr., Rob Pegg, Beth Renkoski, Zach Biehl, Ryan Schachter, Bob Torribio, Wally Grant, Evan Chalmers, Bill Brown, Tim Parsel, Mike Izzi, Eddie Rapp, John Hawks, Mike Starkweather, Jerry Jelnick, Dan Krikorian, John Carney, Gary Almquist, Steve Popovich, Steve Barrett, Paul Renfroe, Paul Harrell, Nowell Kay, Bruce Belcher, Mike Dodd, Randy Dodge, Larry Doyle, Rocky Ciarelli, Roy Englebrecht, Dick Freeman, Dan Thomassen, Mark Roberts, Bill Workman, Jerry Witte, Nick Mitchell, Dan Johnston, Paul Kirby, Xavy Castellano, Jason Simco, Duy Tran, Thom Simmons, Fred Marquez, Ron LaRuffa, Andy Read, Alan Knipe, Boomer Roberts, Rita Newell and Nancy Hopper.
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); Sharon Day (Costa Mesa girls’ soccer, track and field, volleyball); Olivia DiCamilli (Costa Mesa girls’ basketball); Matt Fuerbringer (Estancia boys’ basketball, volleyball, pro beach volleyball); Scott Gorgen (UCI baseball); Kevin Hansen (CdM boys’ basketball, volleyball); Ty Harper (CdM baseball, football); Mark Hatfield (CdM football, baseball); Agustin Heredia (Estancia boys’ basketball); Ray Holley (OCC football); Matt Jameson (Newport Harbor boys’ basketball, volleyball); Bill Johns (Newport Harbor football, track and field); Bryan Luxembourger (Costa Mesa football); Chris Manderino (Newport Harbor football); Shaun Mohler (CdM, OCC football); Ben Orloff (UCI baseball); Danny Pulido (Newport Harbor football, basketball, baseball); April Ross (Newport Harbor girls’ volleyball, basketball, pro beach volleyball); Kelly Schmidt (Vanguard women’s basketball); Wade Tift (Newport Harbor football, basketball, track and field); Misty May Treanor (Newport Harbor, pro beach volleyball); Quest Truxton (Newport Harbor, Golden West College football); and Jerrott Willard (CdM football).
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.