Life is about adventures and it’s time for a new one
One of the founders of the wildly popular Cespedes Family BBQ, Jake Mintz, was in the midst of a 1,200-mile bike ride from New York to Chicago when he stopped in Williamsport last weekend. He lost a bet after claiming late last year there was no way Tony La Russa would be the next Chicago White Sox manager and is spending the next couple weeks pedaling to the Windy City.
When he walked through the press box at Bowman Field after finishing his 85-mile ride earlier in the day, I had only one question for him. I wanted to know at what point did he regret making the bet? He scoffed at the notion.
“It’s an adventure. Life is about taking on adventures,” he said with the widest of smiles on his face.
Mintz continued on about how life’s most difficult adventures are often the most rewarding. I spent a lot of time thinking about what he said, probably an innocuous line he’ll spout throughout his journey when he’s inevitably asked again about his level of regret. But to me, it hit home.
You see, like most people, I hate change. More so, I hate the physical act of change. The idea of change is exhilarating. But for a few years now I’ve been looking for a change in my life.
Back in May, I told my bosses here at the Sun-Gazette I was making a change. I said I would be leaving the paper sometime this summer — although I didn’t know when, and I didn’t have another job lined up — because I needed to leave in order to take steps forward in my personal life. It was a heavy moment, one which has weighed on me daily until that brief minutes-long conversation Sunday with Mintz.
After 12 years in Williamsport and 21 years working in newspapers, I’m on to a new adventure in my life. I’ll cover my final event for the Sun-Gazette tonight when I take in the Williamsport Crosscutters’ game against State College. It’s a bittersweet moment, but it’s one which is easier to take in stride because of those simple words Mintz spoke in the press box.
For the last two months I’ve told everyone who has known about my departure it is both the easiest and hardest decision I’ve ever made. Since I was 14-years old the only thing I ever wanted to be in this life was a sports writer. I never had to wonder what I wanted to be when I grew up as a high schooler because it was all so apparent to me what my calling was. That has made this decision so difficult. I’m leaving what is comfortable. I’m leaving all I’ve ever known. I’m leaving the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do.
But I’m also running toward something. In order to take the next steps in my personal life, this is what is necessary and I’m excited to do it. I see more time in the future with my family, more time with my friends and their kids, and more time to do the things and spend time with the people who truly make me happy.
The greatest joy in my professional career has been watching young people achieve their dreams and chronicling them to be remembered. The challenge has always come when they fall just short of those dreams. Asking for the interviews after a monumental win is easy. Asking after a crushing defeat is heartbreaking.
The toughest of questions to ask often bring about the most heartfelt and honest answers. And what has driven me, especially at the Sun-Gazette, is getting to know the people behind the scores. I often like to tell young writers the results are the results, and year after year, no matter who is competing, there will be results to write about. But what makes the reader get attached to those results are the people behind them.
I always viewed sports as a conduit to people. Their thoughts, their emotions, their reactions always felt more important than their accomplishments. I don’t know if thinking that way made me a better writer or not, but I think it helped me better relate the subject to the reader. And that’s all I ever wanted to bring to the pages of the Sun-Gazette.
You see, it’s not the games I’ll miss. It’s not the long days in gyms for wrestling tournaments or climbing the stairs to the press box at Lock Haven for one of their track invitationals either. It’s the people I’ll miss the most.
There was nothing better than the 30 or so minutes before a wrestling tournament, getting a pep talk from former Lewisburg coach Jim Snyder, or talking to the officials about the big matchups to watch. There was nothing better than standing around the batting cage prior to a Crosscutters game listening to the stories which were bandied about. It was part of the adventure of the job.
But now it’s time for a new adventure. It’s what life is all about, after all. And I have no idea how this adventure is going to go, but it’s going to be hard to top the last one.
Thank you all, so much, for being part of it.
Mitch Rupert is a Sun-Gazette sports writer and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Mitch_Rupert.