Good bye Mining Journal, see you later Marquette

Today, I say good bye to The Mining Journal. But for Marquette, it’s just a see-you-later column.

It’s my final day as Sports Editor of The Mining Journal with the Sunday edition being my last. Starting Monday, Steve Brownlee will take over the department while I begin my move to Duluth, Minnesota, where I will join the sports staff at the News Tribune by month’s end.

This is actually the second time I’m saying good bye to The Mining Journal, having worked as a part-time sports reporter under Renee Prusi from 2006-07. She was the one who reached out to me three and a half years ago, setting the wheels in motion for a return to Marquette.

I’ll forever be grateful she sent that Facebook message in December of 2010. As a student at Northern Michigan University from 2003-07, I developed a tremendous appreciation for Marquette, but since my return in January of 2011, that appreciation has turned into love.

I may be a proud, cheesehead-wearing Wisconsin native with brats, beer and deep friend cheese forever clogging my arteries, but Marquette has become my home.

As a college student, I’ll admit to sticking around the city limits despite having a decent means of transportation. But with my trusty companion – Rox E. Dog – at my side, I became a regular at Little Presque Isle and Hogback Mountain, rather than the downtown bars.

Unfortunately or fortunately – depending on how you want to look at it – I didn’t get to spend as much time as one would like relaxing in the great outdoors of the U.P.

That’s because it’s been as busy of a three years as I can remember for sports journalists in these parts, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

In high school sports, the Ishpeming Hematites shocked Michigan twice by winning back-to-back state football titles. Whenever Disney does get around to making a movie about the 2012 championship team, I don’t plan to see it. Nothing will top watching it all unfold in real life. It was an honor to edit and display the work done by Steve and Craig Remsburg covering that program the past two seasons and I hope we all did it justice.

On the NMU beat, the now retired Steve Reed and I joked a lot when he was interim athletic director how crazy these three years had been compared to the four years of Wildcat athletics I covered in college.

Some of the craziness was fun (the hiring of four new head coaches), some not so much (watching two head coaches not have their contract renewed), and some was a little of both (college hockey conference realignment).

Nothing tested my patience more, however, than NMU’s search to replace the late athletic director, Ken Godfrey.

After extensively following the AD search for four-plus months in early 2012, on Monday, May 7, 2012, I was ready to break the news that Forrest Karr was to become the next AD at NMU after receiving confirmation earlier in the weekend that then president Les Wong was offering Karr the job shortly before or after commencement.

The only problem was, when I contacted Karr at his Alaska residence on Sunday evening, he hadn’t heard from Wong, like he should have.

I slammed the breaks on the story, knowing something wasn’t right. Karr was eventually named AD, but not for another 24 days. Four days after I talked to Karr, Wong stepped down as NMU President, killing my scoop.

I have a ton of respect and admiration for Les Wong, but part of me will always hold a little grudge he didn’t wrap up the hire before leaving because: A) it cost me a big scoop, and B) it cost Roxie and I a few trips to Little Presque and Hogback. My summer didn’t begin until that hire was made.

There are tons of people I want to thank in this column from every corner of sports in Upper and Lower Michigan, but I’m afraid I’ll leave someone out.

I will, however, thank the writers and photographers who have put up with me the most the last three and a half years, most importantly Craig Remsburg and Steve Brownlee, as well as Amanda Monthei, Jon Young, Delaney Lovett, Andrew Zaleski, Danielle Pemble, Matt Keiser and Adelle Whitefoot.

I asked a lot out of all of you – probably too much at times – but because of your hard work and effort, we did some pretty great things.

Good bye Mining Journal. See you later Marquette.

Matt Wellens can be reached on Twitter (twitter.com/mattwellens) and Facebook (facebook.com/mattjwellens). Visit his website at www.mattwellens.com.