February 5, 2019 10:22:55 AM
Sitting in front of the television watching a baseball game, it never occurred to me that sports would take such a prominent role in my life.
There were dreams, of course, of playing in the major leagues or being on TV with the best in the world, but they never materialized.
Instead, a life quickly emerged on the sidelines as part spectator and storyteller. Remember the first time you realized a "job" didn't feel like work and something clicked? That was my immediate feeling when I started working at The Daily Campus, the student newspaper of the University of Connecticut.
More than 30 years later, it's time to tell a new story. Wednesday will be my last day as sports editor of The Dispatch. The finale comes on National Signing Day, an annual event that is synonymous with new opportunities for so many across the country. For me, the day signals a last chance to tell a few more stories of deserving student-athletes in our area. It also opens a new door to a job as a communications specialist at the Mississippi University of Women.
It's hard to describe the emotions when you're letting go of something you've done for all of your professional life. It's kind of like a mix of excitement, apprehension, and longing wrapped up into one. The longing comes from a time in younger days when there weren't as many responsibilities and you could throw yourself into your work and not have any other concerns.
There were very few times I envisioned doing anything else. Growing up -- even into my college years -- some described me as shy. My first jobs as a sports writer gave me an opening to be inquisitive and to talk to people I might never have met. That work offered a chance to listen, to learn, to travel, and to tell stories. I loved it. I think I became a "people person," not someone who would always carry a conversation, but someone you could trust.
That's why I know I am making the right decision because I am listening to myself. I first heard that voice in 2017 when I was riding with Zack Plair to cover the Mississippi State women's basketball team in the Final Four in Dallas. As Zack navigated the back roads in the state of Arkansas, I sat in the passenger seat and tried to keep him from seeing me cry. I'm not sure what hit me, but I had an overwhelming sense I needed to be somewhere else -- namely with my son at his baseball tournament. You can call me an old softie, but it was one of the first times it dawned on me I had my priorities in the wrong place.
The same feeling hit me last year when I was on the road covering the MSU women's basketball team. This time, I teared up in a booth at a Waffle House drinking chocolate milk. Again, I felt I needed to be with my son. Austin didn't need me to be there. He and his Next Level team did just fine. For me, though, the time had come to re-evaluate what I was doing and to consider what was most important in my life.
That's why today I want to say thank to everyone who has allowed me to be a part of their story and who has helped along the way. There have been plenty of wonderful people and great trips.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention Barb Kowal and Carl Adamec for playing pivotal roles. Barb was one of the nation's best sports information directors. At UConn, she taught an aspiring journalist about professionalism, respect, and thoroughness. Those are tenets I used as the foundation of my career.
Carl remains one of the nation's premier college basketball writers. He served as a mentor for me when I started covering the UConn women's team. He listened. He watched. He asked the tough questions. I learned how to be a reporter by sitting next to him at games and observing him. I also learned to love women's basketball, which has shaped much of my professional career.
Now it's time to spend more time being part of the story rather than telling it. I won't get a chance to write about the exploits of my son or his teammates, but I will be there cheering all of them on. It's where I need to be.
Adam Minichino is sports editor of The Dispatch. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ctsportseditor.
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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