On goodbyes, endings and beginnings | Sports Editor Joel Willits says goodbye

I can't exactly remember my first byline with the Bellevue Reporter. When I took over this job as a 22-year-old kid, I had no clue what was in store for me. As I remember, it was summer, so it may have been a story about outdoor recreation; In fact, I think it was about kayaking. Now, three-and-a-half years later, I sit as a slightly older kid, typing what will be the last byline for me in the Bellevue Reporter, as I say goodbye and look onward to my next great adventure. One thing is certain. I won't ever forget my experiences here. The bylines on the top of a story, the words on a page were one thing, but the people behind those words, the people and events that I tried to recreate, those are the things I will always remember about my time here.

I can’t exactly remember my first byline with the Bellevue Reporter.

When I took over this job as a 22-year-old kid, I had no clue what was in store for me. As I remember, it was summer, so it may have been a story about outdoor recreation; In fact, I think it was about kayaking.
Now, three-and-a-half years later, I sit as a slightly older kid, typing what will be the last byline for me in the Bellevue Reporter, as I say goodbye and look onward to my next great adventure.

One thing is certain. I won’t ever forget my experiences here. The bylines on the top of a story, the words on a page were one thing, but the people behind those words, the people and events that I tried to recreate, those are the things I will always remember about my time here.

I’ll never forget the relationships I forged with readers; the heroics I witnessed on the court; the lives lived off of it. It’s funny what you remember most certainly isn’t the games.

I’ll remember standing with the Bellevue football assistant coaches, staring at the overturned bus on the side of the freeway that thankfully, and miraculously, caused no serious injuries.

I’ll remember that same team winning a state title two weeks later, and raising senior Taylor Anderson high atop their shoulders, the young man who lost his older brother just months before, crying while hoisting the trophy high.

I’ll remember sitting down 1-on-1 with Joe Montana and thinking ‘Wow – they’re paying me to do this’.

I’ll remember the e-mails from readers that put a smile on my face.

I’ll remember Ed and Linda Sproull inspiring me to try to test my limits by running a half-marathon (which I did, and didn’t die from – thankfully).

I’ll remember Newport football player Brent Spurgeon teaching me that the only limits we have are the ones that we place on ourselves.

The good thing about leaving is you get the chance to appreciate those who made you better.

One regret I leave with is that I didn’t get to work longer with our two news reporters, Nat Levy and Gabrielle Nomura. They are both very talented writers and hard workers. I hope you continue to read their work because you won’t regret it.

Chad Coleman, our talented photographer, is what makes our paper so pleasing to the eye. We’re lucky to have Chad and his talents at our paper – thanks for always making my articles better with your great art.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Issaquah/Sammamish Reporter sports editor Kevin Endejan, who has not only been my partner-in-crime at many events, but also a great resource to me and an even better friend.

Editorial and advertising mix about as well as oil and water, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great people working on the other side because there are, and I’m happy I was able to work with them.

The Bellevue Reporter has been, and still is, in great hands at the top. Our publisher, Janet Taylor, isn’t afraid to take risks for our reporters. Heck, she even let us convince her about the merits of sending us down to Katy, Texas, to cover the Bellevue High football game. Thank you to Janet for not being afraid to test new waters.

Last but certainly not least, the man at the helm. Our editor, Craig Groshart, has set an impossibly high standard to me of what a boss should be; someone who has your back, is flexible and understanding. And for as great of a boss Craig is, he’s an even better person.

Finally, thanks to my wife, Lynn. She’s probably copy-edited more sports articles that have run in this paper than anyone not on the payroll.

And before I go, thank you to the readers. Interacting with you has been a pleasure. Thanks for letting me in.

Now, as I head out the door to begin my career as a firefighter, I pass the baton to the next Bellevue Reporter sports writer. I hope you all treat him or her as graciously as you treated me.

*Readers who would like to contact Joel Willits can do so by e-mailing him at Joel.Willits@gmail.com or on Twitter @Joel_Willits


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