Let me start this off by saying I have never imagined writing these words any time soon.
But after five wonderful years at The Bakersfield Californian and BVarsity, my time at this newspaper has come to an end.
But, I gotta say, these last five years have been a dream for me and I am excited for the future, which I will unveil soon enough.
Hint: My wife and I are not leaving Bakersfield.
I moved to Bakersfield in the summer of 2014 and started the first day of fall camp leading into that football season.
The first coach I spoke to was Kevin Sneed, who was the football coach at Centennial. What a dude.
I also interviewed Malcolm Johnson and Andrew Hansen that morning. Johnson is now headed to UC Davis on a basketball scholarship and Hansen just completed basic training for the Marines and is a newlywed.
Speaking of wives, I met my wife (a Centennial grad) here, and Kristen has forever changed my life for the better.
Kristen and I met five months after I moved here and started dating right after doing a week-long venture of play-by-play of the Garces Holiday Hoops Classic.
Those were the days. We had some special times at BVarsity. Former executive editor Louis Amestoy and Zach Ewing, the former Californian sports editor, took a chance on me and I am forever grateful.
We hit the ground running that fall. The Friday night broadcasts of three games on Bakersfield.com with Vance Palm in our studio doing recaps and updates was revolutionary for a local newspaper and I loved every bit of it.
Not only that, but we had some really good football teams that season.
Ridgeview, which went on to play in the CIF State Division 2AA Southern California Regionals that December, led that list in the fall of 2014.
Shoot, how about the time Stan Greene called me the ‘angel of death’ for asking him during the third quarter what he was planning on doing the next weekend. I know, I totally jinxed the team that didn’t hear me say that, right Stan? That was fun and the good natured ribbing made me feel right at home.
Bakersfield is my home now.
I’ve covered some incredible moments for Kern County athletes in and out of the region in the last five years.
Isaac Trevino winning the boys 800-meter state title for Centennial in 2015 was special because of how much I enjoy covering track and field.
That was fun and only added to my love of the sport that ended my run here at BVarsity witnessing Liberty's Daniel Viveros repeat as the shot put state champ.
Watching Viveros win the state title was rad, but the moment I will never forget was May 8 when he cemented himself in the conversation as one of the greatest boys throwers in state history.
Viveros unleashed an attempt that landed 71 feet, 3 inches away from where he stood. That’s just the third 70-footer in state history. And I stood five feet from where it left a deep mark in the grass at Griffith Field. That was historic and I was there to write about it (and show video proof for all the world to see) for you, our readers.
Then there was Navonte Demison winning his first state wrestling title. I was not covering the state meet back then. That was still Ewing’s baby. His live blog was incredible and it was an honor to take it over the last two years. I was covering the section basketball championships in Fresno the day Demison won. But we did not have a local team playing in the late-day basketball championships on that Saturday, so I drove back down and got into Rabobank Arena in enough time to set up my camera.
What I recorded was Demison’s reaction as he leapt into the arms of Bakersfield High coach Andy Varner then race into the stands to embrace his mother.
There has been so many other great moments, but two that will stay with me also happened in this final year for me.
First, it was the raw emotion from the Ridgeview boys cross country coaching staff once they knew the Wolf Pack made history winning the state D-III title in November in Fresno. That is the first state cross country title for a team from Bakersfield in the 30-plus years of the state meet.
Then, in what became my final basketball season on the beat for this paper, I finally got to go back home to Sacramento thanks to the Foothill boys basketball and McFarland girls basketball teams.
The two made incredible state playoff runs and played in consecutive title games at the Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento.
The Trojans were built for a state run with a starting lineup of seniors and finished it off with the win over Mt. Shasta, bringing home the first basketball state title to Kern County in 25 years.
Those are the big moments I’ll miss.
But the daily encounters with countless athletes, coaches, athletic directors, fans and former athletes that still hold prep sports here in Kern in high regard made me wake up ready and willing for what was coming each and every day.
I love this gig, but all good things must come to an end.
But please, don’t let that end the conversation. If you see me around town, come say hi and let’s chat and keep the good times rolling.
I’ll miss it, but it’s time to go.