Here’s lookin’ at you, North Tahoe
I’m sure that to the North Tahoe community, the departure of another sportswriter is no big deal.
After all, we tend to take off every couple of years.
But to a young journalist wrapping up his first legitimate professional gig, it’s a sad day.
Not only is leaving the Tahoe area bittersweet ” with its epic skiing, endless hiking and radical mountain biking ” but leaving the paper that has come to be my life invokes more sorrow than I thought it would.
For the last year since “The Takeover,” as I have come to call it, I have been looking for a way out.
When my large-canvass North Shore sports section in the old Tahoe World was taken away from me, forcing my words and photos into the smaller tab pages of the Sierra Sun, I questioned the decisions of those above me.
Like many in the North Tahoe community, I felt cheated, betrayed and swindled.
But, while much of that community initially turned its back and stopped reading, I tried to make the most of it. I accepted my new role, let my talented colleagues in Truckee guide the ship and I made the most of a new, slightly less prestigious title while thinking about what else I might do.
It wasn’t until the beginning of this year’s fall sports season at North Tahoe High that I really began to understand how much I would miss my job.
While my coverage of hiking trips, biking trails, hang-gliding, sailing, kayaking, river gnarbuckling, skiing, snowboarding, monoboarding, climbing and even a couple of wildfires were some of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever been paid to have, it has always been the North Tahoe High School athletic community that really gave the paper meaning for me.
From angry parents calling to complain about their child’s name being left out of a game story to North Tahoe student-athletes asking for an extra copy of an issue with their picture in it are experiences I wouldn’t trade for a golden-egg-laying goose.
Finding a place on the North Tahoe Booster Club board of directors and helping to raise more than $200,000 for Laker athletic programs has been something I will forever cherish.
As a former soccer player, watching and covering the most consistently successful programs in the state play their way to multiple state championships was a distinct pleasure.
And having watched North Tahoe’s boys team so far this season, I regret not being able to watch them compete for another state championship this year.
But beside having the pure enjoyment of covering a community so rich in sports, it has been the people that have made this desk a place I will miss sitting.
The coaches, the administrators, the volunteers, the parents and most of all the athletes who I have come in contact with have truly opened my eyes to what a community can be.
Despite a shrinking school and an increasingly difficult seasonal economy, the community support for North Tahoe has never wavered. And even after enrollment has dropped, the athletes on Dollar Hill continue to rise to the top and bring home state championships.
While job markets and the cost of living force people like me out of paradise, it is the names that grace my game stories and the people who read these pages who will make this job the best place I could ever imagine to start out a career.
You have all taught me so much, and I will never forget it.
Alex Close has covered sports on the North Shore since May of 2005 under the flag of both the Tahoe World and Sierra Sun. He is leaving the North Tahoe area for an indefinite adventure in South America, but now considers North Tahoe his home base, and will return every chance he gets.
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