The Final Conner’s Corner: Sports Editor’s Swan Song

I know you have never heard that tune from me before. It’s been a fun ride, but it’s time to shut it down. Turn off the switch and call it a career.

This is my official swan song, the last time I’ll grace the pages of the Kern Valley Sun’s sports pages. The past 23 years, five months, and 16 days have been a blast. It is with a very heavy heart that I will no longer be writing for the Kern Valley Sun. I am departing on my terms just for the record.

I’ve loved every minute of putting the sports pages together. Even way back in the day when it was written, print, cut, and paste to the pages to be sent to the printer. Yeah, I’m that old. Today’s paper is written, send, copy to the pages then send electronically to the printer. How times have changed in 20 plus years.

Way back in 1997, my first writing job was covering the adult basketball league. The last story in 2020 that I actually put on the page was Adult co-ed softball. There have been so many others in between.

Over the years, I know I have ruffled feathers, made people upset, and wrote some really good stuff. I am proud of what I accomplished. Being from New York, I have always stated MY opinion in Conner’s Corner. And the thing is if you didn’t like it, well not really sure I cared. I go back to one of my favorite sayings, “I may not always be right, but I am never wrong. You can disagree with me if you want to be wrong.”

Some of the stories and events that will always bring fond memories is what I will take away from this ride. One of them was my invention of the Turkey Award. Thanksgiving was usually a slow time, and I had to fill the sports pages. The Turkey Award was born and it had a good run. Another story that always gives me a chuckle is the April Fools story I wrote about angry fowl taking over the playing fields of Kern Valley High School.

I personally know that I had roped in quite a few believers until they read the last sentence of the story. To this day some of them still remind me of it as the beginning of April approaches.

There were a few events that took place in the house at the Kern Valley Sun that bring a smile to my face. One was me winning the lone Waa-Waa Award. I guess I had been whining a little so at the next staff meeting I was presented with the Award. I will cherish it always.

The second event appeared as part sarcasm, but I will never forget the spirit in which it occurred. Setting the stage, I retired a glove that my parents got for me way back in 1975 which was used to play varsity baseball for the Ellenville Blue Devils.

Anyway, there came a point in time that it no longer functioned and I retired it and wrote a corner about losing one of my best friends. Well, Traci Smith jumped on that and purchased a condolence card and had everyone in the office sign it. The third event was my chair. When I started I was very territorial and what was mine was mine. I had a chair that was well worn. It had many, many food stains and listed to one side. I loved that chair, it was comfortable. One day after moving into the latest building I came to work and could not find “my chair.” Ron Smith had actually taken it upon himself to throw it away. He didn’t even give me a chance to say goodbye to it.

In my time here at the Kern Valley Sun, I was fortunate enough to have the chance to see some real quality athletes that have worn the Kern Valley uniform. As a community, we should all take pride in every one of them.

It was fun getting as many names in the stories to show everyone makes a team and not just one person. Another positive I will take away from this experience is seeing athletes start at the youth level and work their way through high school. Then in some cases, perform well in the college ranks. As a parent, I was lucky to have three successful athletes go through Kern Valley and get the chance to play at the next level.

This is where I give kudos to their mother, my wife Colleen. She was a big supporter of them, but also kept them on an even keel. I also want to thank her for supporting me over the 23 plus years on the job, and almost 40 years in marriage.

Over the years I have had the pleasure of working with many incredible people. If I were to mention them all, I’d have to work another six months at the paper. That isn’t happening. Bret Bradigan was my first boss at the Sun. He gave me the opportunity and I ran with it. For that I will always be grateful. Then once again, thank you Ron and Marsha Smith. I gave them kudos in last week’s issue. I figure that’s enough. But know this, I do appreciate everything. Another person I must mention is Cheryl Muncy.

While we lost her way too early in life, I am honored that we were friends first and co-workers second.

I also want to give a shout out to my parents who are both gone now. Very early in my life, they introduced me to sports and it became my passion. It was passed down to my brother and sisters, and in turn, we all passed it down to our children.

Next, I would like to thank the many coaches both in youth and the schools who I crossed paths within the name of sports. For the most part, your diligence in getting me the info made my job that much easier. I wish you further success in whatever way sports returns to normal (?).

Finally, back to my passion of sports, that passion will always remain in me as I walk away from this adventure on my terms. Thank you to all my readers over the years. The ride was special and I will always have fond memories of my time at the Kern Valley Sun. I now bid you all adieu as this chapter in my life becomes a closed book.

Note: Opinions expressed in Conner’s Corner are that of the writer not necessarily those of the Kern Valley Sun.