Grateful for time well spent

For the past four-and-a-half years, I have had the privilege of serving as sports editor for the Hillsboro Free Press. Last week, I started a new chapter in my working life.

For someone to whom words tend to come naturally, I’m having a hard time putting my thoughts on paper.

As I reflect on my time at the Free Press, perhaps the biggest thing to say is “thank-you.”

To Free Press editor, Don Ratzlaff, and founding publisher, Joel Klaassen—thank-you for taking a chance and hiring a sports reporter who didn’t know what “boards” were when she started, or that hits were more important than the player scoring the run in baseball. I have grown personally and professionally during my time here.

Thanks also to Kansas Publishing Ventures owner/publisher Joey Young for allowing me to continue in my role in spite of changes in ownership that happened during my time with the newspaper.

To the many coaches who dealt with me on a regular basis—thank-you for submitting to post-game interviews, for faithfully sending scores and stats, and for working with me to cover your team. I’m sure it’s not always easy talking to reporters.

To the athletes and teams I’ve covered—you have inspired me to be a better person as I’ve watched you work to perfect your skills and abilities on the field, court, course and track. I’ve witnessed some incredible talent during my time here.

To those I’ve interviewed for features—thank-you for trusting me to tell your stories. It’s a responsibility I never took lightly. I trust I did it well.

To the parents, grandparents, fans, fellow photographers and Twitter followers who greeted me with friendly smiles and conversation at games—thank-you for taking time to say “hi” and making me feel at home. Some of you were my greatest cheerleaders, and for you, I am grateful. Your kind words kept me going.

To those who reached out to me in response to a column I wrote, we’re in this journey together. It’s not easy being vulnerable and sharing one’s heart. Your comments reminded me that most of us are fighting unseen battles, and we all need a little encouragement from time to time.

To those who took time to call or text and give feedback on a story, thank-you. Sometimes I forget that people actually read what I write.

To my coworkers—thank-you for supporting me. I’ve enjoyed being part of the Free Press team. I’ve covered some talented athletes and teams in four-and-a-half years, and perhaps in the coming weeks, I’ll share some of those memories in this space.

If I’m honest, as a reporter, it sometimes felt like I sat on the sidelines watching and documenting as others did amazing and brave things. Nobody asks to interview a reporter. But telling your stories made it worth it.

Although my time as sports editor has come to a close, I look forward to continuing to contribute to Free Press sports coverage in a freelance role covering Marion. It’s been a great ride, and I anticipate more of the same in the future. Thanks for following along.

Janae Rempel will continue her monthly Free Press column as she assumes her new job with Christian Leader magazine.