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Nearly 19 months ago, I knew my life would change.

After serving as the Assistant Sports Information Director at Wartburg College and the Communications & Marketing Assistant at the Waverly Chamber of Commerce, I had been called to do something even greater for the Waverly community — serve as the Sports Editor at Waverly Newspapers, replacing a three-year veteran in Tyler Poslosky.

I knew it was going to be a challenging feat, but I knew it was also one worth pursuing in my young career.

Throughout the past 19 months, I have met so many amazing people, who were kind enough to share their stories with me. One that sticks out in particular is Wapsie Valley’s now-graduated senior, Kaleb Krall. Over the course of the past wrestling season, Kaleb had been grappling against an off-the-mat opponent between personal adversity and concussions. After giving his wrestling career one last shot, Kaleb’s unwavering determination and belief in himself landed him at the 2019 state tournament and as one of Wartburg’s incoming wrestling recruits. By writing this story, I was able to see true strength at it’s finest, along with the pure emotion that went alongside it. I will never be grateful enough to Kaleb and his family, his past and future wrestling coaches for being open books and sharing everything they could with me, as a way to share a young man’s story with our readers.

I’ve had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of covering state championship victories, along with the heartfelt losses. This wrestling season, I was able to cover the inaugural Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Associations’ girls state wrestling tournament, which Waverly-Shell Rock hosted and won. It was a moment I will never forget, as I, a woman of sports, was able to watch numerous other young females in pursuit of their dreams of winning a state wrestling championship. In addition to the best victories, I also felt the emotions of a true fan during some of the hardest losses. One that comes to mind, in particular, is the Class 3A semifinal state baseball game between Harlan and Waverly-Shell Rock. The Go-Hawks had the chance to tie up the game in the seventh inning, but a controversial call ended the game and the team’s hope of playing for a state title a few days later. Yes, I cried like the players and coaches did when they received their semifinalist trophy. But, what was more remarkable about the situation was how the team handled it. Yes, they knew the outcome of the game was wrong, but they displayed the utmost class and discipline — a trait more schools across the state should rival.

As I’m reflecting on my unmatchable experiences I’ve had here at the Waverly Newspaper, I know that I’ve been blessed. Last October, I had the remarkable chance to tag along on the Cedar Valley Honor Flight — a day where local veterans and chaperones fly to Washington, D.C. to view historical monuments and be thanked for their service in the U.S. Armed Forces. This trip was a little personal for me, as I have a cousin, who also happens to be my role model, Chris Ketchum, who currently serves in the U.S. Army and is stationed at Fort Lewis near Tacoma, Washington. It was also an opportunity for me to see my mother’s brother-in-law’s name on the Vietnam Wall. Martin J. Reidy served in the Marine Corps and was killed on April 10, 1968. Witnessing such a monumental display of the rigor and dedication the veterans killed in the Vietnam War was eye-opening and is something I will never forget.

I will cherish each and every experience, story and person I’ve met along my journey as the Sports Editor for Waverly Newspapers.

With that said, I am thoroughly excited to let all of our loyal readers know that I will be leaving Waverly Newspapers on Sept. 11 to pursue a Marketing Communications Specialist position at UnityPoint Health — Finley Hospital in Dubuque, which I will start on Sept. 16.

It’s never easy to leave a place that you love and Waverly was most definitely that. It’s a great community that has something for everyone, whether a boutique or restaurant or just great people. I am already looking forward to my many trips back to Waverly in the near future.

As I get ready to say “see you later” to the place I called home for the past five years, everyone in and around the Waverly community deserves a big thank you. You each have made this place feel like home, especially when I was covering sporting events. Since I covered my final Go-Hawk athletic event on Friday, Sept. 6 with the football game against Clear Lake, I realized just how much Waverly was like home to me. I get the same goosebumpy feelings hearing “Back in Black” blare over the loudspeakers as I do when I am back home in Manchester. I know that Waverly was where I was meant to be at the starting point in my career, but now it is time to move on.

One of the things I will miss most about my position is the people I’ve had the chance to meet. From school administrators to student-athletes and coaches to parents and fans, I was gifted with such a strong community that truly invests in the work that I put in at the Waverly Newspaper, whether it was buying extra copies of the paper or purchasing action photos from a sporting event. This community lives and breathes high school and collegiate sports, and I knew that long before I started at the Waverly Newspaper. I knew the high standard our area schools and fans set for themselves would be a prime atmosphere for me to work in, while covering athletic events.

In addition to the people I’ve had a chance to meet while out on assignment, the staff at the Waverly Newspaper has been a joy to work with. DeAnn Meyer, Karen Wedeking, Melaine Buzynski, Carrie Wright, Carrie Fowler, Eric VanSickle, Kim Franzen and Anelia K. Dimitrova have made my experience great. It’s been a true honor to work with every single one of you, whether it was selling advertisements, writing feature stories for special sections or planning an office party. You all contributed to a great 19 months, and I will miss you all dearly.

Again, thank you to everyone who was involved with me becoming the person that I am today. Without meeting each and every one of you, I would not have had the same positive experience in Waverly. You have all played a role in my professional and personal growth and for that, I am forever grateful.

It’s been one heck of a ride covering our area sports and community, and I will never forget the work I’ve done for Waverly and Waverly Newspapers.

The honor is mine.