The boots laid scattered on the ground.
Almost everyone was looking for a size 12. We simply grabbed too many smaller sizes and not enough 12s and 14s for the players that were about to be photographed for this year’s football preview. It was an easy mistake considering the small stature of the sports staff at the Killeen Daily Herald.
As the players sorted through the equipment, tucking their jerseys into their ACU pants and learning how to properly tie their boots up military style, it never occurred to me that that day would be my swan song for the Daily Herald.
It never occurred that in less than a month, I would leave for The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., or that my last day at the Herald would be Sept. 6.
But that is what the football preview in today’s paper signifies. The headline, ‘Change of Command,’ is appropriate given the changes that will soon happen at the Daily Herald.
During my 4½ years as sports editor, I have turned athletes into superheroes, businessmen and, at the end of it all, soldiers.
I have been locked in stadiums late at night, forced to jump over or slide under fences after midnight, hoping a police officer does not see me breaking out of a stadium. I have put basketball players in go-karts, used a radar gun to measure how fast former Belton star Grace Weaver can hit a volleyball and sat in silence at Dino Cannon’s funeral as the community mourned not only one its best athletes, but one of its best hopes for the future.
The athletes sometimes griped about how long the photo shoots took, but when they opened up the paper the next day, I hope they had something they wanted to read.
I hope they had something they wanted to pin to their wall.
Whether it was putting a Wolverine mask on Cannon (watching as he smiled excitedly, while others rolled their eyes) or submitting a freedom of information request to make sure the public was informed about coaching hires, the sports department strives to serve the community.
Overall, I enjoyed my time at the Daily Herald. But it is time for me to move on.
Someday soon a new editor’s prose will fill this spot. There will be a new writer to infuriate you with his mindless opinion; a new writer who hopes to shed light on something that you did not already know or consider.
I hope the change is not too drastic. I am proud of the work my staff and I have done in the last 4½ years.
But that won’t be my decision.
That’s just how it works in the newspaper industry.
Change happens. Sometimes it is good. Sometimes it is bad.
People move on.
Alex Byington, who covered Harker Heights the last four years, took a position covering Auburn University with the Opelika-Auburn News, in Opelika, Ala. Kevin Posival, who covered all four Killeen schools at one point in his seven years at the newspaper, will start teaching at Lake Belton Middle School on Monday.
In the coming weeks, for better or worse, the Daily Herald’s sports section will undoubtedly change.
As always, the memories will soon scatter and new faces will enter the newsroom, filling the boots of the those who moved on.
Contact Nick Talbot at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7569