2003 grads deserve farewell salute

Sports commentary

Another year, another graduating class.

It’s hard to believe we’re already saying goodbye — and good luck — to the Class of 2003.

Sure, graduation itself was weeks ago. But the high-school sports season just ended last Saturday when Jacobe Krizman competed in the annual Les Schwab Bowl at PGE Park.

A handful of other seniors are still playing baseball, but for all intents and purposes, the 2002-03 high-school sports season can be officially put to rest.

Which, I must admit, chokes me up a little.

Whether they realize it or not, I will always remember the athletes of this graduating class.

In some ways, I grew up with them over the past two years, improving my writing and reporting skills as they matured on the field.

There are some who I always look forward to seeing, be it on the sidelines or at the grocery store. There are others who took the time to get to know me personally, and may even call me their friend, not just the “sports guy.”

Maybe it was circumstance — or perhaps coincidence — that allowed me to get to know athletes such as Trent Shelton (wrestling), Erik Hidle (swimming), Jodie Gates (soccer, tennis), Becca and Elie Meierbachtol (soccer), Jon Munk (soccer, lacrosse), Matt Dallman (soccer), Christy Paul (cross-country), John Winters (Horizon Christian), and Krizman.

I have also had numerous non-work conversations with people like Tyler Monzie, Corey VanDlac, Matt Cody, Nate Dethman, Josh Van Ek, Becki Flory, Sean Jennings, Chris Searles, Dereck Ponce, John Harvey, Jarrod Fogle, Ryan Pratt and Candice Hoag, just to name a few.

Every Hood River News reader has undoubtedly seen at least one quote from each of these athletes over the past two years.

That’s because whenever I need a quote to make a story more personal, I turn to the people I know best. Every journalist has his or her favorite source; I just happen to have about 50.

It’s a good thing I’ve taken the time to get to know a few underclassmen as well, because I’d be starting from scratch next fall without my old reliables from the Class of 2003.

Need a soccer quote? Talk to Becca or Matt. Need a few words about football? Jake, Nate, Cody and Searles will always hook me up. Need to get the inside scoop on the wrestling team? Trent is the man to talk to.

I don’t want to leave anyone out, here. All of my sources over at the high school have been eminently helpful the past two years. Certain members of the Class of 2004 already know I’ll be coming to them in a pinch.

Rocky Level, Anna Hidle, Michelle Connors and my other pals from next year’s senior class will most definitely play a big role in my sports stories from now on. After them, I will turn to the likes of Sean Rawson, Talia Hinman, Kristen Hedges and Zach Bohince.

I should probably start pooling sources from the Class of 2006 soon, but many of them are still figuring out how to “talk to the press.”

Don’t worry, guys, it will come. You’ll have your chance to help me fill the pages of the Hood River News in due time.

But, for right now, I want to say thank you to the long list of athletes from this year’s graduating class for helping make my job fun.

Good luck, and don’t be a stranger.

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