We talked a day later, I drove nine hours to Crookston the day after that, earned an offer and accepted it.

    Every kid starting in the journalism business knows one common truth: the job opportunities are there, but you have to be willing to go to them. Aware of the competition my desired field poses, I kept reciting this phrase throughout my final semester of college in Madison. I thought to myself: you’ll get that first sports writing job, you’ll make a difference where you work and after two years, you’ll see where you stand.

    Well, it’s been two years.

    After a long deliberation period, I have decided it is time for me to leave Crookston. I have accepted a sports reporter position in Bluffton, S.C. making August 18 my last day in Crookston, Minn. Two years and five days after arriving.

    The fact that I even made it to Crookston is something special. I don’t usually go for the fate or destiny bit, but this cannot be far off.

    I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May of 2017 and did not have a job lined up. June came and went but still nothing.

    Finally, on July 5, 2017, I received an inquiring email from Mike Christopherson. He asked if I would be willing to talk over the phone.

    Timing was not on my side.

    When I received the email, I was en route to an airport to begin a two-week journey traveling in Europe. I offered to talk when I returned or even to talk in Europe provided I find a spot with WiFi.

    Five days later, I received a response essentially saying my application had been cast aside with a desire to fill the position as quickly as possible.

    Eight days later, I landed in the United States. I turned off airplane mode and discovered another email from that same Mike Christopherson telling me the position remained open.

    We talked a day later, I drove nine hours to Crookston the day after that, earned an offer and accepted it.

    Moving to Crookston was not easy. I cannot explain in words just how much Madison was a part of me and me it. I developed the most wonderful social circles, created lasting memories and found a second home.

    I am not ashamed to admit this, but the morning I left Madison to move to Crookston on August 13, 2017, I cried. I cried a lot. I knew nothing about my new home. As someone who had already moved twice to places where I knew no one, relocating seemed second nature. This time was different. I was no longer a student, adulting became a necessity and the convenience of having a schedule of some sort vanished. For all intents and purposes, I was leaving behind a life.

    Sitting alone in my practically empty apartment my first night in Crookston did not help. The memories of the last four years persisted in my head, and all I could think about was how I may never encounter anything remotely similar again.

    Luckily for me, I could not afford to wallow once my time at the Crookston Times actually began. Within a week, I had met every fall sports coach, produced the fall sports preview and even covered a few tennis matches. Crookston’s population may sit a tick under 8,000, but my constant covering of Crookston High School and the University of Minnesota Crookston suggested I lived in a metropolitan area.

    In no time at all, Crookston was my home.

    Every single person I met was friendly, and when I say every person, I literally mean every person: the coaches, the parents, my coworkers and even the student-athletes. As far as I was concerned, they wanted me to be here.

    I do not enjoy cringing, so I refuse to read some of my first articles written here. But I can only imagine the ground I’ve covered. Because of Crookston, I am a better writer, I am a better photographer, I am a better interviewer, I am a better page designer and I am a more complete person.

    This was the first time I had lived alone. Closest family: 16 hours away. Closest friends: nine hours away. I acquired the skill of independence, and I have Crookston to thank for that.

    I mentioned Crookston’s size being deceiving, and the same rings true for the Crookston Times. Once branded the smallest daily newspaper in Minnesota, this paper provided opportunities to me beyond what I expected. If not for Crookston, I would not have covered Super Bowl LII press conferences and panels. State high school competitions? Who knows if I get that chance with another paper. Oh, and I can forget about covering the 2019 Final Four if I am not in Crookston.

    I won’t get into thanking every person possible here, because there are simply too many and someone will get left out. I’m still going to get a few in anyway. I may be young enough to be the child of nearly all my coworkers (they love being reminded of this), but these guys are my pals: Carl, Don, Calvin, Lynn and Janelle. I’d be remise if I didn’t give a shoutout to Mike Christopherson and Jess Bengtson. These two are the best writers in the area, and Crookston should be proud to have them. I know for a fact, not every town has such a luxury. Do not ever, EVER, take them for granted.

    If you sent me any pictures over these last two years to assist in my coverage, I wholeheartedly thank you.

    Next honorable mention goes to Brian Schumacher and Corey Hanson. I met these two taking pictures of pickup basketball at Highland. They insisted I play with them weekly despite my lousy basketball skills, or complete lack thereof. Because of Brian and Corey, I could look forward to something unrelated to work every week in an unfamiliar town, and I am forever grateful.

    Last but not least, I am thanking you, KROX Radio. Yes, I mean it. We may go head-to-head when it comes to coverage in this town, but without you, I have no competition. Competition brings out the best in those who let it, and whether you know it or not, you made me a better sports journalist.

    I know I said last but not least, but I have one more. This goes out to Leo Blavin of KROX. We both went to colleges in states where we did not attend high school. We both went to Big Ten universities, me to Wisconsin and Leo to Michigan. Somehow, we both landed in Crookston. Our journeys are scarily similar, and I thank you for being my closest friend in Crookston.

    Crookston, I leave you with these final thoughts. Support your local student-athletes. That means Crookston High School and the University of Minnesota Crookston. Don’t forget the coaches. Appreciate what sports do for them, for you and for the community.

    I know not where the road leads, but I’ll never forget where it started - way up in northwest Minnesota.