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Woodward: Change is scary, but I think I’m ready | COMMENTARY

I came to the Carroll County Times in the winter of 2015, but never actually made it to the office on my first day.

Instead, the radiator of my 2004 Ford Escape decided to overheat after I left orientation at the former Baltimore Sun office on Calvert Street. I spent my first day of work in an auto repair shop waiting for my radiator to get replaced.

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I enjoy looking back on that day because it was so unexpected and certainly not what I imagined my first day of work as a sports reporter would look like. That’s how journalism is though, anything can happen. There is never a dull moment.

My last day at the Times is Friday, April 2. On April 5, I will start a new job as a creative writer for Snow Companies in Williamsburg, Virginia, close to my hometown of Hampton.

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I joined the Times staff as a 22-year-old fresh out of a post-graduate internship eager to start my career as a sports reporter. Leaving my first full-time job after five years is bittersweet, and there is a lot I’d like to reflect on, so bear with me.

Carroll County Times reporter Megan Woodward interviews Liberty quarterback Nate Kent, the 2019 Times Football Player of the Year.
Carroll County Times reporter Megan Woodward interviews Liberty quarterback Nate Kent, the 2019 Times Football Player of the Year. (Dylan Slagle)

I’ll start with this past year ― 2020 was strange.

The COVID-19 pandemic put high school sports on a hiatus and I wasn’t sure how long it would last, but I did know that I missed it. I missed the anticipation leading up to just about every game — intra-county clashes, county championship games, playoffs, and state championships. I missed covering high school football under the Friday night lights and spending hours at track meets monitoring the progress of Carroll’s athletes in their respective events.

Covering nail-biting games on deadline became second nature to me and it’s where I learned to thrive. Shout out to the Century and Liberty boys basketball programs in particular, for always making my heart palpitate during every single game! I used to mark those games on my calendar a year in advance, by the way.

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You don’t need to hear this from me because you should already know, but Carroll County is a lacrosse hotbed. Coming from an area where lacrosse is not popular, I was stunned at how much talent is ingrained in lacrosse here.

That coverage is something I will miss most of all, especially during state championship week. In the four spring seasons I covered Carroll high school lacrosse, I paced the sideline as I watched at least one team win a state title.

Three of those teams won state titles in the same week — here’s looking at you Westminster girls, South Carroll girls, and Westminster boys.

Carroll County Times reporter Megan Woodward (center) reacts while covering a boys basketball game between Century and Liberty on January 17, 2020.
Carroll County Times reporter Megan Woodward (center) reacts while covering a boys basketball game between Century and Liberty on January 17, 2020. (Dylan Slagle)

During the pandemic, I became immersed in news coverage and expanded my reporting outside of sports. I wrote so many fascinating stories in five years and always prided myself in capturing the essence of a person, event, or milestone through the written word.

In 2016, I covered an overtime football game at South Carroll High School and forgot to charge my laptop battery beforehand. I had to drive all the way back to the office to charge it up and file my story. I spent much of that evening in the fetal position on the newsroom floor, terrified that I was going to miss my deadline.

I’ve come a long way since then, I promise.

I wish I could list all of the memorable games I’ve covered, and name all of the incredible athletes I’ve had the pleasure of watching over the years, but I can’t make this goodbye column that long.

I worked with some tremendous people during my time at the Times and have seen beloved colleagues come and go, their absence leaving behind a vacancy that often went unfilled. The camaraderie we had was unmatched and I will never forget it.

I was extremely fortunate to have such incredible leadership from my editor, Pat Stoetzer. It would take me writing a separate column to explain just how much I learned from you over the years. Thank you for your guidance, patience, and showing me “Star Wars” movie scenes in the office after hours. I’ll get around to watching them all some day.

I also need to thank Bob Blubaugh and Wayne Carter, two outstanding editors who have done an excellent job of holding our staff together when things got tough. Wayne, I was so happy to join a staff with another Steelers fan in a sea full of Ravens fans.

To Pat and Dylan Slagle, one of our beloved photographers, don’t think that just because I’m leaving the “Borat” jokes are coming to an end.

To Heather Mongilio, my former coworker and one of my best friends, you are fiercely passionate about journalism and one of the most talented reporters I know. I am so thankful you decided to stop by my desk five years ago to introduce yourself. We’ll get back to the Maryland Wine Festival soon enough.

Carroll County Times reporters Heather Mongilo and Megan Woodward, right, volunteered to drink alcohol and have their BAC monitored while volunteering as test subjects for police academy recruits to perform field sobriety tests on at the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions center in Sykesville, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017.
Carroll County Times reporters Heather Mongilo and Megan Woodward, right, volunteered to drink alcohol and have their BAC monitored while volunteering as test subjects for police academy recruits to perform field sobriety tests on at the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions center in Sykesville, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

To Baltimore Sun Media Group reporters Kyle Andrews and Katherine Fominykh, the Terrible Trio will always live on. You two are incredible sports writers and even better humans. Thank you for picking me up on some of my darkest days.

Carroll County is such a special community, and it’s why I chose to come here. I will be forever grateful to the athletes, coaches, and athletic administration in this county for making me feel welcome and for being so kind to me over the years.

It’s been fun, and I promise I’ll be back to catch a game or two in the near future. And get Del Huerto tacos.

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