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It's time for me to say hello ... again

This is where I'm supposed to introduce myself to you, the reader, and let everyone know I'm taking over as sports editor at the Carroll County Times.

But really, does it have to be like this at this point?

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If you don't know who I am by now, I'll give you the short and sweet. I came to the Times right out of college, and this has been my one and only job ever since. I lucked out, when it comes down to it.

The summer before I graduated with a degree in, well, something, I was getting paid minimum wage to help control the crowds at Ravens training camp over at McDaniel College. It wasn't too far from home, and I usually picked the early-morning shifts so as to avoid sweating through three different shirts in the noon-day sun.

It was there that I stalked, er, made myself available to Bob Blubaugh, the Times sports editor, and politely ask him if his staff had room for an aspiring reporter. It's very likely Bob recalls the meeting as one of opportunity, him giving back to a budding journalist with local ties. I see it differently — I got the shrug from my future boss, who mumbled something about me sending him examples of my work, wanting little to do with a perspiring twentysomething standing between him and the Ravens sideline.

That was 17 summers ago.

I sent my clips, got a part-time job to start, and I've been engrossed in this county's high school sports for what feels like forever, which is why I always get people coming up to me in public with a handshake and the question-greeting, "You're that guy from the paper, right?"

Yep, it's me. And yeah, my head is actually that large.

I've spent more time with Bob since our Ravens run-in than I have my own family, which has to count for something. We've sat no more than 4 feet away from each other for nearly two decades, which should have been plenty of time for me to absorb one or two nuggets of wisdom.

Right?

Kidding, of course. If I can be half the editor and leader Bob was, the Times sports section will be just fine.

(Best wishes to him as he ventures downtown for an editing gig at the Baltimore Sun.)

Unlike my predecessor, I didn't grow up longing to be a writer and cover professional sports. I wanted to play them.

And I did. I played them all the time.

In the driveway, I was Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan all rolled into one and rarely missed a shot. I scored game-winning goals for the Capitals in my basement all the time. I hit walk-off homers in the backyard, with my share of ghost teammates mobbing me at home plate.

Sure, my friends grew tired of my acting out these make-believe moments and wasting their time. But what did I care? I was in the zone.

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I played soccer, basketball, and baseball at the rec level growing up. I spent my formative years on a competitive swim team (and yes, that was several pounds and a lot of hair ago). I even coached Little League for a few years.

But it wasn't until I got cut during high school baseball tryouts that I had no choice but to hang up my embarrassingly-clean cleats for good.

There was a constant, though, something that has stuck with me over time. I relished in sharing stories with my sports teammates and then retelling them to other friends every chance I got. And I found out I could actually string together coherent sentences now and then, which is sort of important.

Sometimes I embellished my tales, but who doesn't from time to time when they're trying to impress people?

No inflating stories these days, of course. I'm still as passionate about sharing stories, however, and that's why I'm here to let you, the reader, know our staff's philosophy won't change despite a change at the top.

We're here to give you the news, yes. And be accurate and informative, yes. But we're also going to do our best to share stories, whether they be from college or pro athletes, high school sports — our bread and butter — or just people from your community that have something interesting to tell.

And the best part for me is I didn't even have to assemble a staff. They were already here, from Jake Rill and Matt Owings to Brian Haines, who is making a full-time return in the coming weeks.

We're looking forward to sharing more stories with you. About you. For you.

That's what my former boss taught me, first and foremost. And that's what this staff will continue to strive for, no matter who the person is making the decisions.

Sure, it's my turn. And I'm hoping to pick up where Bob left off.

I'll be waiting for the next young journalist to track me down at a sporting event and ask if we have any job openings.

Whatever, kid. Just send me some clips.

Pat Stoetzer is the Times' sports editor. Reach him at 410-857-7894 or pat.stoetzer@carrollcountytimes.com.

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