Sigh, So this is it...this is really kind of bittersweet as I look back on 12+ years here at Idaho State. In case anyone has missed it, I am leaving my position here as Asst. A.D. for Media Relations to take a similar position with the University of New Mexico.
Honestly, it was an offer I couldn't pass up, as there are some benefits there that ISU just can't match, although I won't say that necessarily makes it a better job. What it does do is give me a new adventure. I will get to run the office there and try new things, much like I did here. I will work specifically with men's basketball and men's tennis, and assist a bit with football. It's less travel, more home games, and a bigger conference in the Mountain West. I still get to hit Salt Lake and Boise every year ... well, SLC this year, Provo after that, and Boise starting next year, and my two oldest daughters live in Boise, so that is a bonus.
I would be lying if I said I loved every minute of my 12+ years here, but certainly the frustrating things were few, small, and very far between. I have watched hundreds of student-athletes graduate and move on to great things...one of my favorite stories is of Akilah Lacey, who played football here and is now a member of the Pocatello police force, protecting the citizens of a town who showered him with so much affection as a player. I've been greatly affected by things too. I will never forget being woken up by a phone call that freshman Jacori Rufus was killed in an accident while driving home over Spring Break, or some of the other close calls that thankfully turned out OK.
As far as student-athletes go, I've had to privilege to get up close and personal with so many tremendous competitors, from Jared Allen to Stacy Dragila to David Schroeder, and many, many others. Perhaps none is more special that AnnaMarie Hofstetter, who was not only maybe the best player in ISU's 12-year soccer history, but was a First Team Academic All-America pick as well, proving to be the very best of both student, and athlete.
As far as coaches, I've worked with great ones. From those that are gone such as Gordon Henderson, Larry Lewis, Doug Oliver, Jon Newlee, Mike Welch, and Ardie McInelly, to the current group of coaches, who are not just fantastic to work with, but are great people who care deeply about their players and this school. I just can't stress that enough to the fans...the coaches are desperate for success and spend most of their waking time working towards it.
It's funny, I've worked for five A.D.s in 12 years here, and all had their positives. I was hired by Irv Cross, and then worked with Howard Gauthier, Jim Senter, Paul Bubb, and finally Jeff Tingey. I've had great working relationships with all, but personal friendships with some, but I'll say this, as young on the job as Jeff is, what he has been doing in his short tenure here is nothing short of spectacular. He is learning how to navigate the roadblocks that show up at his door, and he is raising money, and hiring good coaches. The GPA is up, and the wins will follow...for a guy literally thrown into the fire (Jeff and I had many a conversation before he got named the interim a few years back), he has done some great things, and I'm absolutely positive this athletic department is in good hands with him running the show.
One of my favorite things about ISU has been the assistants I've worked with, from my first Reed Hollinshead, who got married and left the profession for the Idaho Housing Authority (he is still there too!), to in order, Wendy Broker (left here for Purdue), Derek Smolik (left and became the head SID at two Division II schools), Jason Erickson (Director of Information at the WAC) to my last assistant, Katie Zigars, I'm excited that I was a part of the beginnings of so many great media relations careers. Even our current graduate assistant Jamie Schroeder is great and will no doubt make like a former G.A. of the office Michelle Railsback-Smith, who is on staff at Boise State, and go to big places.
I've had 12 years worth of media folks, and some great ones. One of the early ones, Jones Schwartz, is now working at SNY in New York and hosting NY Mets games, and Kellis Robinett is covering Kansas State football and men's basketball. I've worked with great announcers from Russ Eisensteing to Jim Fox to Jerry Miller to Mark Liptak and Brad Bugger, and many others in between. I've greatly enjoyed the ISU media, and hope the Albuquerque media is just as gung-ho and talented.
I've also greatly enjoyed interacting with the fans. This blog in particular, which won an award two years ago, was done with the fans in mind. When I got to ISU, stats were not computerized, and the website was, well...it wasn't really a website. Now, 12-years later, as my last little gift, you guys are getting one heck of a new site courtesy of the folks at Sidearm. We have livestats, live free audio (Russ Eisenstein gets a big assist on that one), live streaming (Mike Pritchett and KaLee Kopp get those big assists...like HUGE assists there), blogs, chats, video reports...I'm proud I was able to update ISU's internet presence like that. And what is great is the new person that follows me...they will do all that and more, and I welcome following ISU as a fan now and seeign what goes on.
But without a doubt, while I'll miss many things about ISU...the people, the athletes, the fans, even Holt Arena...I will miss the people of Pocatello. I raised three daughters here, and I can't imagine a better place to do it. I will miss our friends, my wife's school teachers who welcomed her with open arms, and just the general feeling that Pocatello people are just good regular folks.
There's probably many people I didn't mention that I should have (Jay McMillin comes to mind LOL) and I'm sorry about that...too many folks to thanks and remember.
So with that, I'm off to Albuquerque (Rio Rancho actually), and I am excited to live in a place with nine Panda Expresses, a couple of Olive Garden's, and one PF Changs. There are some former Bengals down there at the school, and with facebook, and www.isubengals.com, I can definitely keep up with how the teams are doing.
One last thing...support these student-athletes and coaches...they are working so hard to make you all proud. As an alum of ISU (grad. degree in 2006), I know I'm already proud of them, and proud to say, I will always be a Bengal! Let's take the Big Sky, and GET ON BOARD!
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