Schlaufman: Many Thanks, Barnes County

So long and farewell

By Scott Schlaufman

A few months ago, I went up to Grafton.
It was a unique trip for many reasons. The Valley City High School football team was playing there in the semifinals of the AA playoffs, the day after a large snow storm hit the area.
The field itself had been plowed early that morning, but only the field, plus about a foot beyond, leaving the bleacher-less Valley City crowd to packed along the sidelines.
As the game went on, one of the girls from the school turns and asks me, "Scott- why aren't you cheering?"
The answer was simple, I'm an unbiased media member. I can't cheer. But she wasn't buying it, telling me, "You're from Valley City."
The sarcastic person I am, I made sure to end it on my terms, reminding her that I'm from Colorado, but in retrospect, it's a comment that's sat in my head ever since.
As people, we frequently identify ourselves with a region. The one we call "home."
It's a task even more complicated for nomadic people such as I, who unintentionally have called about five different places home in the last few years.
I'll be wrapping up my time here in Valley City tonight, ending my 14-month span at the paper by covering tonight's VCHS basketball games at the Hi-Liner Activity Center.
With leaving any position, there's always a mix of emotions. There's excitement over new horizons, but the fear of leaving the position you're in. But as I prepare to exit Valley City via Main St. for the last time, the main thing in my head right now is thankfulness.
Thankfulness for my time at the paper.
Thankfulness for the athletes in Barnes County who have made my job a pleasure.
Thankfulness to anyone who's ever sent a photo, contributed a story, or supported me in some way, shape, or form, in the last 14 months.
I came in wide-eyed, eager to learn, and now I leave confident, ready to take on the world.
Along the way, I was blessed to see many great athletes and teams at all different levels. I could name teams, name athletes, but if you're reading this column, you know where I've been, what I've seen. Naming names isn't important here.
There have been the highs of state championships, the tribulations of young teams growing into their skin, and all sorts of strange moments in between.
I did what I could to take in the rest of the experience, as well, checking out pep rallies, parades, and choir concerts, which allowed me to see a side of our local athletes beyond the one in a jersey.
I've taken in the experience of loud areas, whether it's Sioux hockey, Bison football, or anything between Jamestown College and VCSU, while also appreciating the smaller schools, who have spectacular athletes, even if the confines are a little more cozy.
Though I couldn't make every event or write every story I wanted to, I hope that through it all, you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed covering it.
My only hope is that through it all, you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed covering it.
It was always my pleasure and I sincerely mean it when I say that whomever replaces me is nothing but lucky. This community is great, the state even better. For all the "Whys?" I got when I came here, I leave with knowing "why" and am nothing but proud of my time here in this city.
So when my Honda Element pulls away Wednesday morning and I take my final drive out to the interstate, I'll take my last look at places like the Pizza Corner, the Hi-Liner Bridge and many of the other areas that make this city great. Leaving won't be easy, and Lord knows I might get a tad emotional, but in the end, I can proudly tell people that I am, in fact, from Valley City.

Scott Schlaufman is the outgoing sports editor of the Times-Record. He doesn't like leaving small communities that embrace him so wonderfully. You can find him on Twitter, username ScottySchlauf.