NICK’S NOTES: Nick’s night

Just about 15 months ago, life wasn’t going great for me. I was living in Somerville, Massachusetts, in a townhouse that smelled like cat urine. I split up with my girlfriend. One of my roommates was skipping out on rent and I was told that I’d need a root canal.

Fast forward to to Thursday night when I walked into the Marshall High School gymnasium to discover that a handful of Marshall High School students had dressed up in khakis, blue button-up shirts, horn-rimmed glasses, and Minnesota Twins baseball caps in an homage to yours truly. They even accessorized with cameras and notebooks. I laughed, but I wanted to make sure everyone else got the joke.

I was dressed in jeans and a short-sleeved shirt, so I ran home to change into my “uniform.” I returned to a handful of cheering teenagers just before the start of the game. Numerous photos, tweets and laughs later, I felt pretty awesome. Never in my wildest dreams would have I imagined that I’d be the subject for a theme night.

A big thank you to Marshall High School students Mitchell Sueker, Shane Greenslit, Nick Saugstad, Ryan VanMoer and Deacon DeBoer for making me feel really cool.

Some bittersweet news undercut the jovial evening: it was my last Marshall Tigers volleyball game. I’ll be moving back to the Twin Cities area next week to start a new job in Minneapolis.

What have I learned in this past year where my fashion sensibilities somehow became worthy of emulating?

My enjoyment from this job didn’t stem from just getting to watch a lot of sports. (Although saying you get paid to watch baseball games is pretty cool.) It came from getting to know all of you.

I enjoyed the human moments between the games. Those demonstrated how much all the games, practices and training all really meant.

Whether it was three of the Winkelman brothers talking about what it was like playing basketball together or Jackie Turner telling me how much she’ll miss her cross-country team next year.

Seeing Southwest Minnesota State University volleyball coach Terry Culhane give Greta Geist an honorary starting spot at the NCAA championship was a wonderful moment. A few weeks prior to the match, Geist had gotten the news that her cancer had reappeared and she would be undergoing treatment once again. It was inspiring to see her team and the community rally around her.

Sometimes there were losses. Marshall football’s loss to Waseca in the section playoffs and Marshall girl’s basketball loss in the state finals stung the whole community. While disappointment hung in the air, so did hope in the future.

Most of all, I loved witnessing the joy. I loved the celebrations after volleyball players earned a point and the cheers coming from softball dugouts. I loved the smiles on parents cheering for their kids and the pride that went along with athletes signing their letters of intent.

There are a few people who deserve some thanks. Thank you to Marshall High School activities director Bruce Remme and SMSU athletic communications director Kelly Loft for being extremely professional and helpful in so many ways. They are both valuable assets to the community.

Thank you to David Merrill, Josh VanKlompenburg and Gary Kaczmarek in the sports department and Per Peterson for being along on this fun and crazy journey in the newsroom.

Most of all, thank you to Jim and Mary Tate for introducing me to the community. They took me in and made sure I was set here before I even wrote a story.

I took a chance when I left Boston. Thank you all for confirming it was the right choice.

Thank you all for inviting me in, welcoming me and letting me listen to your stories. It’s been an honor and a blessing.