Morrison: Farewell to a special community

I’ll admit that I didn’t know much about the city of Lynn when I took this job at The Item almost three years ago.

I knew it was a city on the North Shore, and I’d heard that infamous phrase that starts with, “Lynn, Lynn, the City of Sin…” I was nervous and excited to explore these new surroundings and didn’t know what to expect.

Today is my final day as a sports reporter and photographer with The Item. Over these three years I’ve met so many wonderful people and covered so many teams that I will not soon forget. My time on the North Shore has reinvigorated and deepened my love and passion for sports, and given me a new appreciation for all of the hard work that goes into athletics at the youth and high school levels. I’ve covered everything from high school Super Bowl games to quiet cross country meets and everything in between, and I’ve loved them all.

I am constantly amazed and impressed with the passion and dedication coaches, assistants, administrators and volunteers display around the area. I think there’s so much that goes into running a team that none of us see except the coaches and the players. I appreciate every coach who has called the Item or given an interview after a game, whether it was after an exciting win or an ugly loss. I get it; especially after a loss, driving back from a late game, tired and hungry and probably irritated,  calling the Item to talk about the game isn’t high on the list of things most people would want to do. But there are so many coaches and assistants out there that just want their kids to be recognized, and I have a lot of respect for that. It was a privilege to be on the other end of those phone calls and interviews and to be able to put the spotlight on the kids who deserve it.

And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? There aren’t that many instances in most of our lives where we get recognized and celebrated, especially for sports. Most athletes I’ve covered didn’t go on to play in college, and of the ones who did, even fewer became star athletes on those teams. And once you’re out of college, you’re lucky if you even get the chance to play organized sports again, never mind be recognized for your accomplishments. I know there are plenty of parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and friends who cut articles and photos out of the paper and save those for years; my mom and grandmother did it for me, and I think just seeing my name in the paper made them happy. By far the best part of this job is getting the chance to write those stories and take those photos and know that someone is cherishing them. It’s something I’ll miss when I move on, and something I hope I can do again in the future.

For me, it was impossible not to get excited about and invested in the teams I’ve covered, whether they were championship-caliber or didn’t win a game. There’s something unique about every team and every school, and it was a pleasure getting to walk the sidelines and get to know what makes each group special.

And while I’ve enjoyed every community we cover, I have to say there’s something special about Lynn. Maybe it’s just because I spend a lot of time here and got to know so many people around the local sports scene but many of my favorite memories will be from Lynn. I’ve felt so welcomed by the community, and that started with the athletes themselves. It made me smile every time a kid waved to me from the court or ran over to give me a hug or posted one of my photos on their Instagram. I wish I could tell every parent and every coach how much these experiences have meant to me, and how proud they should be of their kids. Just about every interaction I’ve had with these athletes has been polite and respectful, and that makes our jobs so much easier.

One of the parts of the job I’ve always found the hardest was staying objective. It goes against my nature; I can’t help but be a fan. I think you have to be that way to an extent to do this job, but for years I’ve been thinking about if I would be happier being on the other side. Working as part of a program or organization to help it grow from within. Starting Monday I’ll be an office assistant in the athletics department at Clark University. I will miss covering local sports, but am excited to take on this new challenge. If you’re ever in Worcester, stop by and say hello. I’m already excited to watch the few players from the area who are Cougars, like Saugus’ Matt Waggett and Marblehead’s Patrick Bugler, who play basketball, and Swampscott’s Meg Marocco, who plays soccer. While they probably won’t recognize or remember me from their high school days, it’s fun still having a small connection to the North Shore and seeing some of the kids I’ve covered move on to the next level.

I also wanted to take this space to thank everyone I’ve crossed paths with over these last three years. Whether those interactions were good or bad, and most were good, they’ve helped me learn and grow and understand what I’m looking for and what I care about. Thank you for welcoming me to the community and letting me share in some special moments. Thank you, coaches for dedicating your time and energy to giving kids a place to play. Thank you to the athletes and kids who make this job a blast. Thank you for letting me be a small part of your lives, thanks for sharing my photos and letting me share your stories. There’s one thing I know for sure about Lynn now: I won’t be coming out the way I came in.

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