The authority for sports coverage in the Fredericksburg region.
ADAM HIMMELSBACH: People shaped writer’s journey
SOMETIMES, PEOPLE begin farewell columns by saying they just don’t know how they should begin their farewell columns.
But I’m not going to do that. (Oh, man, I just did.)
Anyway, after over 10 years as a sports reporter here, I’m leaving to become a sports reporter at The Courier–Journal in Louisville, Ky.
This, however, is my time to look back rather than look ahead.
During my 10 years here at The Free Lance–Star, I’ve been afforded so many wonderful opportunities.
I covered Michael Jordan’s final season in the NBA and LeBron James’ first playoff game.
I traveled to Florida and watched Dale Earnhardt Jr. win the Daytona 500 on the same track his father died on. And I saw Joe Gibbs come back and improbably return the Redskins to the playoffs.
But years from now, I probably won’t remember much of that. Really, I think the role of a community paper like this one is to tell your stories.
So when I look back, I will remember the people I met here and the stories I helped tell.
I’d like to use this space this final time to focus on you—or, as I quickly learned after arriving from New York 10 years ago, to focus on y’all.
I will certainly remember the coaches. Students come and go, quickly evolving from scared freshmen to confident seniors to college students who make their parents wonder where the time went.
But coaches, just like the writers in our sports department, usually return each year.
In football, I’ll remember Massaponax coach Eric Ludden’s kindness, and the initial bond we shared when I learned I was from the same hometown as his mother.
I’ll remember Chancellor coach Bob Oliver’s one-liners, and James Monroe coach Richard Serbay’s startling mixture of intensity and compassion.
In basketball, I will remember Courtland boys coach J.T. Nino’s ability to successfully change his style based on his personnel. I’m sure he could coach college basketball if he wanted. (He proved last winter he can coach girls basketball, too.)
And I’ll remember James Monroe’s girls and boys coaches, Julian Bumbrey and Antonio Coghill, who were the rare sort who were just as friendly after losses as they were after wins.
In the end, of course, high school sports are about the teams. And there have been plenty of memorable groups in this area over during my time here.
I’ll remember 2009, when the Colonial Beach and Courtland boys basketball teams put this area on the map.
The Cougars were led by current Duke forward Josh Hairston and the Drifters were led by Longwood guard T.T. Carey, and both teams improbably returned from Richmond as state champions.
North Stafford’s 2011 boys soccer title also stands out, as the Wolverines became the first Stafford County team ever to win a Group AAA crown.
And there are too many memorable stories to recount. Sadly, those that stick with me most are usually the saddest ones.
I’ll remember sitting in a minivan talking to Courtland football player Baron Braswell’s parents as they drove around town making funeral arrangements.
I’ll remember sitting in the living room of former Massaponax football player Ryan McGhee, talking with his family a week after he was killed in Iraq while serving with the Army Rangers.
And I’ll remember young James Dobson, who is battling cancer and received hundreds, if not thousands, of birthday cards last year.
Most of all, if it is not already clear, I’ll remember the people. Everyone in this area has been so warm and welcoming, even if I did misspell your name. (Sorry about that!)
If I have left something or someone out, it is only because this is a newspaper and space is limited. It was truly a pleasure to get to meet so many of you over the years, to be able to tell your stories.
I’d love to stay in touch with you all. The email address at the bottom of this story will probably end up in a black hole before too long. So the best way to reach me, for now, is probably on Twitter. I hope you find me online @adamhimmelsbach.
Lastly, you’ll be pleased to learn that my position will be filled by a talented journalist who knows this area quite well. Nathan Warters, a former high school sports editor at The Free Lance–Star, will be replacing me.
Thank you all again!
Adam Himmelsbach: 540/374-5442