Wednesday, September 19, 2012

This is my last week at the Dothan Eagle



Heads up, turn your microphone up if you want to hear me. Even though my mic was up to my face, it went in and out. I talk about Troy in the beginning, other schools in the middle and my future over the final minute.

This was filmed Monday and it was the first realization that this was it for me in the Wiregrass, at the Dothan Eagle and covering Troy University. Some of you knew this, but this is my last week with the paper and the game at North Texas this weekend will be my last assignment.

I've enjoyed almost every minute of it, but I'll be moving on to a new challenge in covering UAB for the Birmingham News/al.com. I have to monitor other schools, such as Samford and Jacksonville State, but for any UAB fans reading this, rest assured, it's going to be predominantly Blazers from what I was told. I'll be at all the football games, all the home basketball games and I want to say several road games as well, but haven't been told that. I'm crossing my fingers. Basically, if UAB has something important going on, I'll be there.

I was hindered by more around here covering high schools and desk shifts and even being an hour away from Troy, was still able to get plenty of material out. I should be able to do much more with UAB and I'm looking forward to the challenge of a new fan base/readership, new school, new people to deal with and living in Hoover.

But back to being here - I can't thank Jon Johnson and Ken Tuck enough for taking a chance on someone just a few months out of college with no contacts at Troy. I think it turned out well.

Larry Blakeney, Don Maestri and Bobby Pierce, and their assistants, have been first class. I've been through a lot of their best and worst moments since Feb. 2005, when I took over and the first Troy athletics event I saw was Troy beating Jacksonville in an Atlantic Sun basketball game. It hasn't been perfect, but it's been professional.

The staff in the Troy athletics media relations department has bent over backwards to help me out, from Ricky Hazel's crew to now Adam Prendergast, and I'll miss being in the press box making jokes with the current crew while waiting for them to pass along Troy notes throughout the game.

I can't imagine many University heads taking time to help out a newspaper writer, but Dr. Jack Hawkins always made time for when I had a question and I can't thank him enough for his class and time. The University, despite not being in a great location in a huge town, has thrived under Hawkins' leadership and I expect that to continue.

I've been asked about who will replace me. I don't know that answer, but I do know they are working hard to fill it. They got corporate approval to make a hire. The job posting is HERE. We'll still have Troy stories each day, and Jon Johnson will write them in the interim. I would think this blog would still be maintained by my replacement.

In the meantime, it's been great dealing with the people, the student-athletes over the years and writing about them while watching them grow from teenagers to grown men. The best part has been the interaction with the readers, and that can still continue. I'll stay on twitter @DrewChamplin, for new followers, and I'll respect if you have to unfollow because I won't be updating Troy any more after Sunday.

My personal e-mail is dchamplin1@gmail.com, which is the best way to get me after Sunday. I start my new job on Monday, and will be fully immersed in the UAB beat on Oct. 1. I'm still not exactly sure what all I'll be doing next week. I'll have a new work e-mail, but I'm not sure what that will be yet. I just know to show up Monday at 8 a.m. for orientation.

To close it out, I just need to say thanks to everyone who made this coverage grow, and that was the readers. We'll have Troy coverage (written by someone else) on al.com, but don't forget the Dothan Eagle - I'm positive the newspaper will continue on its path to be the leading source of Troy news long after I'm gone.

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