Taking a cue from the Iron Horse

July 31, 2009 02:43 pm

So I’ll try not to make this the Lou Gehrig luckiest man on earth speech, but for the past year I have been truly blessed.

While working here at The Observer I have seen some amazing athletic feats and some of the most beautiful country this state has to offer.

Last week I was offered the sports information director position at Eastern Oregon University, my alma mater. It was an opportunity I could not pass up.

A career in sports information is something I have dreamed of and I can’t believe it’s beginning at age 26. To have the chance to start at a school that I am fond of and have previous experience at is … well, like Mr. Gehrig said, lucky.

My luck began almost exactly a year ago when Paul Harder gave me a chance to cover Little League baseball and two weeks later I began working at The Observer.

Ted Kramer, along with Paul, took a chance on me at a time when I thought a degree in journalism was worthless. I’m not sure if these two men have any idea the impact they made on my life that day.

The staff at The Observer has made every day easy to come into work. Well, actually, it’s tough to call what I do “work”. It’s what I love.

Being a part of the communities in this area has been an amazing experience. I’ve been in La Grande for four years and I never made a visit to Wallowa Lake until a Joseph game in the fall. I learned so much from this job outside of gymnasiums and away from football fields.

The intimacy of the small communities is something I will never forget. And, it is something I am not done being a part of. Fans should plan on me being at many local events this year.

I hope all of you will give Eastern Oregon athletics a chance and come out and support one if its teams.

It’s hard to rank the top moments I have seen this past year, but some of the things that top my list are (in no particular order):

• Joseph and Imbler football making the state championship game.

• Getting lost in Portland the night before that game.

• Driving through heavy snow before and after a Wallowa basketball game.

• The one-of-a-kind view at Joseph’s track and field meet.

• Nixyaawii rallying from a 26-point second half deficit to tie Powder Valley in the state basketball tournament.

• Joseph’s girls basketball team winning its unbelievable three game series with Imbler with a buzzer-beating shot to win the state title.

There were so many memories made by so many incredible people. I want to thank you all for making a young man from Florida feel so welcome everywhere I went.

I know Gehrig coined this phrase, but it feels right for me to say, “Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

Barrett Henderson is sports writer for The Observer. Reach him by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it