All good things must come to an end, so too must my time in Stephens County.
With this column comes my final contribution to The Duncan Banner, a place that I joined in August of 2011.
Now my journey will take me to Piedmont, where I will be the Sports Editor for the Piedmont Surrey-Gazette, along with being the Sports Editor for the Okarche paper as well.
It’s been a long and winding journey for this young sports writer, who started out as a sports writer in Canyon, TX for The Prairie at West Texas A&M University in August of 2010, before adding my talents to the Canyon News in November 2010.
To be honest, before I came here I had never heard of Duncan, Marlow, Comanche, Velma, Bray, Empire or even Central High, Oklahoma.
But, from the moment I stepped foot in Stephens County, I felt a sense of calm and welcome from everyone I came in contact with whether it was at a sporting event or out in public.
I also had my fair share of embarrassing moments, which I can now look back on and laugh about.
One of the funniest memories I have is when I went to go watch Comanche football practice, and I was wearing my maroon and white jacket, not having the slightest clue they were the colors of Velma-Alma High School.
After some brief explaining, it was cleared up with the Comanche coaches and players that I was a simple sports journalist and not a scout of some sort, to which CHS head coach Steve Justus then offered me a cold water to hydrate with.
Speaking of coaches, they are among the people I will miss the most.
While these people are very passionate on the field, they are among some of the best people I have had the pleasure of interacting and working with.
More importantly though, the coaches in Stephens County are tremendously family oriented and show that through how they coach and teach.
Another favorite memory of mine has to be the amazing kindness shown to me by the good people at every one of the schools in Stephens County.
Whether it was food, drinks, shirts, stats, or even a friendly conversation, there was always someone at every school whether it was a coach, student, or parent in this area more than willing to help me out.
To everyone that assisted in some form or fashion, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you did for me.
Obviously there’s so many more memories I have, but alas we don’t have that much space in this paper to fill all of them.
In my two years here, I’ve also faced a lot of harsh criticism in one form or fashion.
Many of these critics said that I was an “Idiot” or that I was a “Worthless sports writer.” My personal favorite out of these was the remark that I’d “Never amount to anything more than a half decent sports writer.”
Normally, this would be an opportunity to say that me being hired as a Sports Editor is me proving these people wrong, but that’s not my style.
Rather, I’d like to thank those people who said those remarks, because they helped keep me going on days when I just didn’t think everything was worth it.
On a much more positive note, there are some people who I will name that do deserve recognition for all their support they have given me.
First and foremost, I’d like to thank my family and friends along with my beautiful girlfriend Melissa.
There were so many days and nights during these two years that I wanted to give up and never look back, but because of these people, I was able to pull through and press on.
This accomplishment is not just about me, but about all of you as well. Thank you for everything you have done for me.
Another person I want to mention is Jeff Kaley, who was my managing editor when I started here.
I have never been so appreciative of someone being so tough on me as you were Jeff. While at the time I hated how hard you were on me, I understand that it was because you wanted me to be better than I was. Thank you for never going easy on me and for believing in me.
It felt almost overwhelming Monday night at Southwest Park in Marlow when I was covering softball for the last time.
Overwhelming not because of the heat, but because of the amount of people who came up to me wishing me well and thanking me for all I had done.
That was certainly a good way to go out at my last sporting event.
In closing, I would just like to say that I will miss all of the people I have come in contact with, and I hope that I can stay in contact with you through e-mail or some other fashion.
I will be keeping an eye on the athletics in Stephens County, so I’m expecting to hear great things this season.
Thank you all.
Evan Grice was the Assistant Sports Editor for the Duncan Banner.