As I sat down to write this month’s column, I realized what May 2005 means for me: I have less than two full weeks left as a Pratt Community College Beaver.

My initial reaction to this was excitement, but it seems that just as I have built a solid network of contacts in and around Pratt, it is time for me to move on to bigger and (hopefully) better things.

I seem to have chosen the right time to attend PCC. As a basketball manager/statistician, I was able to be a part of two programs which experienced resurgence in front of my eyes.

The Lady Beavers (my primary responsibility) had back-to-back winning seasons; something that hadn’t happened in decades. The Beaver men went from 11-20 last season, to Region VI champions with a national tournament berth this season.

As a journalist both at the college and for the local “newspaper” (a story in and of itself), I was able to build a fairly impressive portfolio of stories covering the resurgence of Beaver basketball.

I don’t know how many people have asked me if I’m going to miss Pratt after I graduate May 13. My answer to all has been the same: I will miss it, but I won’t miss it.

I’m definitely going to miss some of the connections I’ve built. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of people, and I seem to have developed a positive reputation around the campus.

I’m going to miss the coaches I’ve worked for both as a manager and as a journalist. Yes, I’m also going to miss the easy classes, but I suppose I’ve got to challenge myself at some point in life.

What I’m not going to miss, however, is how PCC and the Pratt community seem to have a desire to accept the mediocre.

Pratt is always bragging about how they’re making a decent effort to grow and develop their city, while at the same time, they have turned down Applebee’s and Quizno’s since I’ve been here.

Pratt has no industry to keep it pumping. They’ll take any business they can get into their downtown district.

Their newspaper comes out daily, but is rarely more than eight pages. It’s very common for the Tribune to consist of six pages (a front page with large stand-alone photo that doesn’t relate to anything else on the front page, one page of Associated Press stories and some local news if you’re lucky, two pages of classifieds, a sports page, and a back page with a desperate attempt at a human interest story).

They claim to be an “award winning” newspaper, but I can’t see how. They employ four full-time staffers, including editor and publisher. The Free Press may only be a weekly newspaper, but thousands of readers in Marion County are getting better quality in their mailboxes once a week than what Pratt residents receive for 50 cents a day.

About the only thing Pratt has going for it is its new four-field baseball/softball complex. A baseball lover recently donated a large chunk of land for a state-of-the art complex that has made me say “wow” a number of times.

For a long time I thought the Hillsboro Sports Complex was a pretty nice place, and by most standards it is. But we’re way behind Pratt at this point. The Green Sports Complex in Pratt is Pratt’s baby, and you know it from the second you pull into the parking lot. It sets a high standard for small-town baseball/softball complexes, and I’m not sure there’s a complex in Marion County anywhere close to being as nice as the one in Pratt.

I suppose when you get right down to it, my time in Pratt has been well worth it. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and I’ve been able to share most of it with you. It seems like just yesterday Don and I discussed whether I would be able to continue writing after I went off to school.

Apparently I did the job and, unless he says otherwise, I’d love to continue sharing my college experiences with you as I go off to Winfield next year.

Congratulations to the Class of 2005 at all area high schools. The best years of your life await you. Make sure you make the most of them no matter which college you will be attending.

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