Today marks my last day of employment at the U.S. Trotting Association.
What a long, strange trip it’s been.
Those who cares about such things know that I have not actually been in the USTA office since June 9, having given my notice to take a full-time teaching job at The Ohio State University (which starts Sept. 1!). As much as I love harness racing and the lifetime worth of friends I have in the sport, the OSU opportunity was simply too good to pass up and allows me to fulfill the role for which I think I have been preparing my entire career–to help the next generations of journalists survive and thrive in the communications world.
I had these visions that when this day came I would have written one last from-the-heart column for Hoof Beats, and would hopefully be having a long, boisterous going-away lunch with my staff–maybe at our favorite spot of Buca Di Beppo–filled with the friendship, memories and laughs our lunches always generated. But the world sometimes moves faster than we expect–or plan for–and the opportunity for both of those goals was lost.
And maybe it’s not really valid to say, “goodbye,” for my new situation allows me to keep writing for Hoof Beats and many other wonderful magazines, including Canadian Sportsman and The Harness Edge. Last week I talked to Chuck Sylvester, Bob Marks, Nifty Norman, Roger Hammer and John Campbell. Ron Pierce and I are planning to have dinner in the coming weeks. Katrina Rucker, a friend since I was 9, just got reaquainted on Facebook. Life, like racing, goes on.
But I can’t fully leave 750 Michigan Avenue without acknowledging just a few things:
I must thank those who gave me my opportunities at the USTA–Dean Hoffman and Eric Sharbaugh, most significantly, who both took a chance with me. I need to also thank the terrific Communications staff and wish them all the best as they take the progress we made over our years together and build on it to even greater heights. They are truly some of the brightest minds in the business. I know I worked them hard, but I hope they–and you–also agree the products we came up with were worth it.
I want to salute the USTA’s progressive directors–Jason Settlemoir, Ivan Axelrod, David Siegel, Alex Dadoyan and Shawn Wiles among them–and hope they get the support they need to guide racing into the future.
I need to say how grateful I am for the everlasting friends I made in racing–like Dan Plesac, Bob Marks, Greg Schuler, Ellen Harvey, the Zubrod family, the Gaskin family, Charlie Leerhsen and Sarah Saffian, Steve Elliott, Dave Briggs, Kelly Ford, Shawn Wiles, Dave Brower, Tom LaMarra, Andrew Cohen, Ellen Taylor, just to name a few. And for the childhood friends I have cherished into adulthood–Moira Fanning, Nathalie Tremblay, Gen Sullivan, Mike Turndorf, Ron Pierce, and so many more.
And I need to saw how wonderful it is to have JD’s Awesom Al in my life, as he constantly reminds me of all the wonderful experiences racing can offer.
I have written so many articles I can’t remember them all, but many of the ones that stick with me are the ones that made me cry–and I hope they made you cry, too. They were stories on the life and death of Brian Pinske, Dan Plesac and Captain Zoom, Chuck Sylvester and Lucky Chucky, the strange case of Arizona Helen, Charlie Leerhsen and Crazy Good, just to name a few.
There is a lot I will miss about the USTA, There is a lot I won’t. But life means nothing without new adventures, and I am most appreciative of new the opportunity I have been given, and for the chance to share it with the most wonderful family for which I could have ever hoped.
Around the Communications Department we had a motto which I try to live every day–and I admit I stole it from Yoda in Empire Strikes Back: “Do or do not. There is no try.” I believe in that sentiment fully and completely, to give my all to everything I do every day. But as I walk around OSU, the world’s largest university, embracing my new world filled with the pursuit of knowledge and higher learning, I will wholeheartedly embrace a new sentiment: