And aloha means goodbye... but not for good

Written by Paul Harder, The Observer June 03, 2010 01:38 pm

I must open my final column with a thankyou to all the players and coaches I’ve met in my four-plus years at The Observer.

All the tremendous athletes allowed me to watch seven state titles in person, with Union and Wallowa counties bringing home many more during those years.

It’s hard to pin down which one was my favorite.

The La Grande baseball state title is high up on the list.

Then of course the first Imbler versus Joseph battle in a state title game, this one on the hard court. You can’t leave out a title game that came down to a last-second shot.

Plus, adding in the atmosphere that the Class 1A basketball tournament brings to Baker City magnified the whole event.

Maybe it’s fitting that this is it. I will be leaving with the class I came in with.

The amount of athletes in this group around the area won’t be seen again for some time. Pitted together, Class 6A schools would be in trouble.

I thought about naming a few, but I don’t want to do anyone a disservice by leaving one of them out.

Then of course there’s the coaches.

Yet another group I’ve been fortunate to be involved with.

And I’d be in trouble if I left out a thank you for the wonderful athletic directors I’ve spent hours talking to.

Goodbyes are simply impossible, because you fear leaving someone out.

But I also have to thank the parents I’ve met too.

Everyone has been so great to work with, honestly. This job couldn’t be done without fielding some constructive criticism from the people reading the paper.

Just as parents have helped me, in some ways I’ve been able to help them too.

The best memories come from the golf course, simply because you’re spending more time in one-on-one situations.

I’ve had the pleasure of walking with two fathers in general — they know who they are.

One had a child win three straight district titles.

I served as a distraction. Bantering back and forth helped calm the nerves walking the final holes at Wildhorse.

This year, I got to see another district title winner through the last seven holes or so.

The ups and downs during all four of those years were a privilege to be a part of.

Honestly, the list could go on and on with all the great memories I’ve had during my tenure here.

Finally, I have to thank all the people I work with.

It’s been an amazing group of people to work with.

It’s not often you find a job you love doing, and working with people you like to work with.

The best part is, I won’t be leaving the area I call home.

And I won’t be leaving the sports arena.

I’ll still be doing what I love, just in a slightly different way. There’s no way I could give up working in an area I love so much.

Unfortunately, I have chosen to watch sports for living — not a bad way to live.