Jim Reding poked his head out from behind one of the many piles of papers that covered his desk. His glasses had slipped to the tip of his nose. He wanted someone’s attention.
It was 2002, and I was a novice news assistant at The Seattle Times, taking a high-school score over the phone. Reding, who coordinated all of the paper’s prep coverage, waited until I hung up.
“Kelley, your dad is a pretty good writer,” he barked, his voice gravelly from years cigarette smoke and late-night deadlines. “You want to cover a game?”
A few days later, I found myself watching football at the Northeast Athletic Complex. Bishop Blanchet beat Nathan Hale, 21-7.
When it was over, I fumbled through an interview with Braves coach George Monica and wrote a five paragraph story that was buried at the bottom of a roundup.
Three years ago, on my first day as the paper’s high-school sports coordinator, I sat down at Reding’s desk. I thought about that game. I thought about that first story. I thought about all of the things I’ve experienced since.
As I prepared for my final day at the Times Friday, I once again thought about those moments. I thought about all of the athletes, coaches, writers and editors who have helped me carve out a career as a journalist.
And, before I leave to take the next step in my career with ESPN.com’s RecruitingNation, I wanted to say thank you.
To Seattle Christian basketball player Katie Collier, who found a way to salvage her senior season despite going through chemotherapy as she battled leukemia, thank you.
To Jaimeson Jones, who always focused on moving forward throughout his battle with testicular cancer, thank you.
To A.J. Leitch, a wrestler who was born without kneecaps and the ulna and radius bones that would run from his elbows to his wrists, thank you.
To Skyline’s Mat Taylor, Bellevue’s Butch Goncharoff and King’s Jim Shapiro, football coaches who allowed me to peek behind the curtain and travel with their teams, thank you.
To O’Dea shortstop Josh Dickerson, who played most of his senior season despite a dire diagnosis stemming from a cancerous soft-tissue tumor in his jaw, thank you.
To all the coaches and athletes who made the past three years so enjoyable, thank you.
To all of my coworkers at The Seattle Times, thank you.
And, to the readers who have followed my coverage through the paper, the blog and Twitter, thank you.