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Jake Schultz Column: Bidding farewell to unbelievable people and places

Journalists are often sympathetic people. Cynical, perhaps, but sympathetic nonetheless. That's what makes writing this so difficult. After three years with the West Central Tribune, I am off to something new and leaving the only full time job I'...

Journalists are often sympathetic people. Cynical, perhaps, but sympathetic nonetheless.

That's what makes writing this so difficult.

After three years with the West Central Tribune, I am off to something new and leaving the only full time job I've ever known.

I won't bore you with too many details, but the short truth is I'm off to live with my wife, a smart woman who has supported my career every step of the way.

When I sat down to write this, my mind flooded with memories of my west central Minnesota adventures. Aside from one hip-check by a golf cart in Raymond, I can only think of good times.

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I always wanted to be a reporter and the West Central Tribune allowed me to live out my dreams. Not even in my dreams, however, did I expect what these three years would be like. I didn't see myself hosting the fastest-growing sports show in Kandiyohi County-it's a fact, trust me.

I didn't anticipate seeing the bowels of U.S. Bank Stadium, chasing down interviews and, seriously, I didn't see that golf cart coming.

This was a job where I could try anything with capable hands guiding me, allowing me to learn every day. The two biggest lessons I learned are this: first, don't ever try to catch a football with oven mitts on and especially not while wearing a Teletubbies mask; second, high school basketball players can destroy all 6-foot-5 of Curt Hogg in pickup basketball. Actually, I think I knew that second part before I even saw it happen.

It was fun to see Willmar's recent run of dominance and BOLD's continuing legacy. Paynesville grew to become a state power in football and baseball and I am glad I could witness it.

Most of all, though, I'm glad to have met you, the readers, athletes and coaches. I met an unbelievable number of people during my time here and that meant a lot to me as a guy living on his own in a new town.

When I first showed up, everyone asked me if I was going to be the new Rand Middleton. There's a great deal of pressure in a question like that, because I don't think anybody in the business became as big a part of the community they covered as Rand did. I knew I never could fill those shoes, but it was an honor to give it a go.

I can't thank each of you enough for reading our work and talking with me at ballgames, gyms or outside some-let's face it-smelly locker rooms.

This was a fun area to cover. This is an area full of people who read and care about the paper and will continue to do so without me. The Tribune, like every newspaper across the country, is going through changes and it needs every bit of that support. The excellent people at the Tribune did plenty of great work before me and they'll do plenty after me, too.

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I grew in innumerable ways these last three years. I grew as a writer, photographer, videographer and overall storyteller. Now, I can write the best darn box score you've ever laid eyes on. I learned the nuances of wrestling and became awestruck by gymnastics. On top of all that, I went from recent college graduate in a bed bug-infested apartment to married man with a noted lack of insects.

I'll miss the people, I'll miss the killer senior seasons next year and I'll miss telling your stories.

I know I'll be following along with the same energy I've had this whole time. Instead, I'll just be in the stands with you.

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