Time to offer fond farewells

By Travis Brown
STAR Staff
tbrown@starhq.com

   There has existed a practice here at the STAR sports department, since long before my employment here.
   Each member is afforded one last opportunity to thank his comrades, and make a few last remarks before stepping out to greener pastures.
   For me that day has come, and I must say it is a bittersweet moment indeed.
   Over the past two and a half years I have enjoyed my tenure here at the STAR. It has been a distinct honor to work with such fine individuals.
   My first major assignment was Cloudland at South Greene during the fall of 2000. I have always marveled at how a man could get paid to watch a ballgame, but I didn't complain about getting paid.
   I want to take a few moments and thank a few people who have made my time here at the STAR very enjoyable:
   Jamie Combs: Jamie is first on the list. Without question he is No. 1 on everybody's list of extraordinary gentlemen. He gave me this job and he has remained my superior and my friend for the duration. Continued success and happiness my friend, the undisputed king of the quirky lead.
   Jeff Birchfield: I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jeff, truth be told he is the finest writer in our department, and a fine family man as well. I have always been amazed at his seemingly endless knowledge of racing, along with his professional nature.
   Matt Hill: Matt has been the workhorse of the staff during my employment with the paper. His diligence to cover every detail, and his devotion to minor sports has always struck me as impressive. Keep up the good work, Matt.
   The entire staff: There simply isn't enough room to thank everyone during this column. To the rest of the guys, and gals, at the STAR, I have a special place in my heart for all of you. It has been a great pleasure to work along side the fine people of this business.
   The Cloudland Football Fans: Often times the staff writers here at the paper are defined by the football team we cover, and I have had the privilege of following the 'Landers over the past two seasons.
   The single greatest moment of my employment took place last season when I was asked to make a few remarks at the pep rally held before the Highlanders were to travel to Murfreesboro.
   The reception I was given and the comments that were made have made my job worthwhile, and I will never forget the hospitality that the fine folks of Roan Mountain have given me during these two years.
   My Uncle Jr.: Little known to all of our readers, my Uncle Junior lives in Seattle and he reads the STAR periodically to keep tabs on his hometown. Junior drops me an e-mail from time to time, and his insight and compliments have remained poignant each and every time. Thanks for the support my friend.
   There are plenty more people who should be mentioned, but I will draw the list to a close. I have one more thing to say before I wrap up this farewell salute.
   My dad has worked for a very long time in Elizabethton to improve the facilities as well as the level of play here in our local little leagues.
   I still feel that Little League Baseball/Softball has the power to teach kids proper conduct, and sportsmanship. However the focus must be kept on the kids.
   It is a sad tragedy when the adults associated with these institutions fail to provide a proper role model. Instead they give a prime example of how to act in the most unscrupulous fashion.
   If I had one wish for the sports community here in E-town, it would involve the whole-hearted support of our youngsters, and a higher commitment to provide them with a solid ethical foundation for proper citizenship.
   From Little League to the prep playing fields, these kids will grow and mature into our future, and I can only hope that the lessons they are learning now, will contribute to a positive outcome upon leaving the prep ranks.
   Thanks again for all of the memories, they will not be soon forgotten.