I struggled, really, trying to figure out how to start this column. Columns- taking personal experiences and making them matter to each and every one of you- were Nick’s thing.

Lots of things were his thing.” Were” may actually be the wrong tense because he hasn’t lost any of those skills.

Monday marked Nick’s final day at the Marshall Independent.

After taking a well-deserved vacation to visit some friends in Colorado, he is going to start a new job with the Hennepin County Bar Association.

He’s going to edit and occasionally write for their monthly publication.

Depending on what time you wake up in the morning, he’ll have most of his belongings crammed in boxes in his silver Honda and headed back up toward the cities.

There isn’t enough space in this column to describe how lucky I am to have had this guy on my staff for the past year.

It’s not going to do it justice, but I’m going to try.

Most of you probably realize how fortunate and blessed you are as well after getting to know him; to have him follow and get to know your kids.

The night he told me he had accepted another job offer, he told me a couple things.

One of them – the fact he didn’t want to work the odd hours anymore- didn’t surprise me. If he didn’t like his job, he wouldn’t be doing it, but I promise you the hours aren’t any fun at times.

The other thing did surprise me.

He told me he didn’t see himself being a sportswriter in five years.

The most surprising thing about this is that he’s really good at it.

He didn’t win the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s New Reporter of the Year for nothing.

Nick is great at identifying with people and is a great storyteller.

I may technically have been his boss, but I promise you I run a team operation in the sports department at night.

I also promise all of you that I learned a lot from him. He made my job a lot easier. He played a major part in being proud of most of the things that have appeared on these pages over the past year.

There’s a lot of small things that made being around Nick enjoyable.

Whenever he got done with his article at night, he would pace around the newsroom as if he was waiting to see if he had the winning lottery numbers.

Then, when it was time to proof, he would often lay on his back on a table that’s next to a copier.

Nick is also what I would consider and expert on talking with a mouth full of helium.

I’ll always remember the night he did his Alvin and the Chimpmunks impersonation.

He even got a large part of the Marshall High School student section to do something in one night that I’ve rarely been able to accomplish in the past year – dress in his impressive classy style.

Inside and out, Nick is a class act, whom I’m glad I got the chance to know and work with.

Thanks for the memories and the lessons, Nick.

Best of luck.