Finding something to be thankful for this holiday season has been a rather easy process for me.
When you and your wife are expecting twin baby boys who may arrive at any moment, it's kind of a no-brainer.
However, the point of this column is finding something to be thankful for when it comes to the local sports scene. And, as luck would have it, that also doesn't take much effort.
I'm just happy to be covering high school sports in the great state of Kansas.
Yeah, yeah, I know it sounds sappy. But I'll take sappy over Missouri any day.
You see, I've been in this business for a little more than eight years now, and have spent a lot of time, energy and money on postage in an effort to get back to this area. Thanks to a baseball scholarship, I first came to Lawrence and Kansas University back in 1992 as a fresh-faced kid from California, and while I transferred two and a half years later and actually graduated from a different institution of higher learning, there was always a part of me that longed to return.
That desire received an extra boost when, early in my career, I met my wife, Stacie, who just happened to call Kansas City home.
- What we're thankful for: The Journal-World sports staff expresses its gratitude regarding the local sports scene
- Keegan: Gymnasts deliver benchmark title (11-25-05)
- Tittrington: This city beats anything Missouri has to offer (11-25-05)
- Hartsock: Lawrence every bit a sports mecca (11-25-05)
Now, as the saying goes, when momma ain't happy, nobody's happy. And while this momma dutifully followed me to Oregon, Utah, California, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona and back to California again, finding time in there to give birth to our now 2 1â2-year-old daughter, she made it quite clear that the final stop on the carousel better be near her family.
Just one problem - they live in Missouri. And while my initial dalliance in the land of the Jayhawks was an abbreviated one, it didn't mean I failed to develop a bit of a superiority complex when it comes to our neighbors to the east.
Don't get me wrong. I love my in-laws. How can you not when, any time you have a fight with your wife, and she calls her mother to complain, the mother sides with you? What a beautiful relationship.
But that doesn't mean my dear mother-in-law is without her faults - No. 1 of which is her unwavering allegiance to the Missouri Tigers.
You know the type. She's one of those die-hards who goes so far as to write scathing letters to the editor at the big-city newspaper to complain that the people who put together the sports section obviously favor KU over MU.
(I guess the fact that KU manages to win, keep all its athletes not named J.R. Giddens out of the police blotter and not name new sports facilities after rich girls too good to do their own homework might have something to do with that. But I digress.)
So, if I was going to move back to America's heartland, it had to be the right opportunity. And, of course, the right location.
So here I am, three months into my job at this fine newspaper. I've got a new home, a newer car - albeit the one my wife grew out of as soon as the doctor said, "Congratulations, twins!" - and a new opportunity to renew my love affair with the city of Lawrence.
There are literally hundreds of local high school athletes and coaches willing to share with me their stories. And not one of them has a Missouri address.
It's good to be me.