Jared Lankford: All good things must come to an end
Barry Sanders was one of the most gifted athletes I ever watched.
His agility and sudden acceleration made him nearly un-tackleable by a solo defender.
His exit from the NFL left a bitter taste in the mouths of sports fans, as Sanders, while in his prime, made the decision to retire.
His reasoning was he wanted to leave the game on his terms and while he had his health. Some pundits argued that he was selfish and had much left in the tank. To his credit, Sanders made his decision and never, or at least publicly, second-guessed whether it was the right call.
On Dec. 30, my decade long career at The Monett Times and Cassville Democrat will conclude. My name will still appear in a few issues after that date, but I, like Elvis, will have left the building.
The decision to leave the paper was always inevitable. The only question was the timing.
The job description 10 years ago was simple – go to games, write what you see, repeat.
Over the next decade, I hit the trail as hard as I could. With a vague directive, I let nothing stop me from covering sports while learning how to write in proper style.
The results of my efforts were two fold. First is the physical reminder, as over my desk hang 23 first place plaques from the Missouri Press Association and Associated Press, along with a recognition for Best Missouri Daily Sports Page for 2016 and our coverage of the Cubs state championship season.
Second is the community aspect and all the friends and connections I have made over the last 10 years. Much is owed to the people that took a chance on me, from Rust Communication to you, the readers, who welcomed my stories into your homes.
But, times change. When I began at the paper, my family consisted of a wife and one son. Now, it has blossomed into a family with four kids on the go.
Several times, I put my family life on hold to make sure games or stories were covered. The most notable of those was the time Monett had a football coaching change and I literally hit send on the story from the hospital as they wheeled my wife back into the delivery room.
As many of you know, I have several side projects, from being a public address announcer, broadcasting games on the radio, selling fireworks and working for the United States Postal Service.
The year has been the wildest of my life, a roller coaster that shook me to my core. Aside from the global pandemic, the home my wife and I purchase just before I started at the paper caught fire and was a total loss on Jan. 2, and my Mother passed away in July.
My employer was understanding and supportive and General Manager Lisa Craft displayed a heart of gold with her assistance for me in those times. The community and coaches were also wonderful during a stressful time.
In August, my part-time job at the USPS became a full-time job. I agreed to stay at the papers until the end of the year, and I have come to the end of said commitment.
I will still be involved with area schools as a public address announcer, and there will be some side work for the paper down the road. But for now, I must turn my attention to a new career and to my family.
My children are active in events that a father must attend.
There are too many people to be named and to be thanked for opening doors for me. Just know I appreciate everyone I came into contact with.
I hope that I can be like Barry Sanders and have no regrets as I look back on this chapter of my life.
Jared Lankford is the sports editor of the Cassville Democrat. He may be reached at 417-847-2610 or at email@example.com.