My first story when I arrived in Langley was about a young and up-and-coming swimmer named Jake Tapp.
It was December 2003 and five years later, Tapp was representing Canada at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
Fittingly, my story in today’s Times is about another Langley athlete from those 2008 Games, Danielle Lawrie-Locke, and her quest to return to the Canadian national team and represent Canada once again at the 2020 Olympics.
It was stories such as these I loved writing as the Langley Times sports reporter.
But the time has come for the next chapter of my professional career as I sadly leave the talented team at the Times. This was not an easy decision.
I have spent the past 14-plus years sharing the many inspiring stories of the talented athletes and teams who call Langley home. And nothing has brought me greater pleasure.
From an early age, newspapers fascinated me.
In elementary school, I would deliver the newspaper each and every morning. And in addition to bringing the news to the neighbourhood’s front step, I would keep a copy for myself, and read it from cover-to-cover, always starting with the sports section.
Sports had a hold over me and while I knew that I would never fulfill that dream of being an elite athlete, I could settle for the next best thing: writing about the games and the athletes I followed so closely.
High school and university brought detours but once my schooling was done and I searched for which career to pursue, I circled back to my first love: newspapers.
Fresh out of the Langara College journalism program, I started at the Alaska Highway Daily News in September 2002 and spent the next 14 months as a general news reporter.
But sports always had my heart and I was fortunate enough to be hired by editor Frank Bucholtz, who took a chance on a young, unproven reporter. For that, I am forever thankful.
I have also been lucky enough to work with an amazing editorial team and the fact there was such little turnover over the years shows how great a job this truly is.
Brenda Anderson, who was first a colleague and later an amazing editor, gave me the space and freedom to cover the sports beat as I saw fit. Not many editors would grant their reporter that much trust and independence.
And with Monique Tamminga, together, the three of us have been at the Times since I arrived.
Monique is also off to chase the next challenge in her life — and will be a success no matter which path she chooses — while Brenda stays on at the paper and will no doubt continue producing a fantastic product. In case you missed it, the Times won silver in general excellence at last month’s BC Yukon Community Newspaper Awards Gala.
A big thank you to former colleagues Al Irwin, John Gordon and Natasha Jones, who taught me so much as a young reporter, and to the current team of Dan Ferguson and Miranda Gathercole. Both Dan and Miranda remain at the Times and will no doubt continue providing fantastic coverage.
Troy Landreville — who for many years was the competing sports reporter in town — is also off to his next adventure. Troy always kept me on my toes, not letting me get complacent knowing that I was up against such a talented writer and photographer.
A big thank you to all the staff from other departments I have worked with over the years and Black Press for allowing me to fulfill this dream.
But the biggest thank you goes to the athletes, coaches, parents and teams who have allowed me access to tell their tales.
I have witnessed both triumph and tragedy, but none of that would have been possible were it not for this amazing sports community opening their arms and welcoming me to share their stories.
It may be my byline on the top, but the stories belong to the subjects, so thank you to all who permitted me the privilege of sharing them with our readers.