On May 18, 1999—my 12th birthday—my parents gave me two tickets to the PGA Tour’s Kemper Open, held later that month in Potomac. It’s still the best birthday present I ever received.
I had been to more than a dozen Orioles games and other major sporting events, but never professional golf. My dad kept up as I ran from hole to hole looking for my favorite players, and begging them for autographs before and after their rounds.
Pretty soon, though, lightning chased everyone from the . My dad and I took shelter in the pressroom.
Everywhere I looked there were TVs, laptops and free ice cream. We watched reporters interview players, write and eat until the storm cleared.
, I thought. That is, if playing on tour myself didn’t work out.
Almost 10 years later I sat in my off-campus apartment at Mount St. Mary’s University. Grad school was coming to a close, my Division I golf career was ending in a couple weeks, and I didn’t have a job.
I sent emails to editors from Orlando to Albany, Flagstaff to Chico, and even somewhere in Idaho. In the decade since fate trapped me in that Potomac pressroom, I never wavered from wanting to be a sports reporter. (Spoiler alert: professional golf wasn’t in the cards.)
Then, one afternoon in that spring of 2010, I got an email from “Christine” about Local Editor positions with Patch.com. I marked it as spam.
A few days later, a college classmate emailed me to tell me how much he liked working for this “Patch,” and thought I would, too. So the next time I heard from Christine, who turned out to be a recruiter, I gave her a shot.
Two phone conversations later, I had a third interview scheduled in Washington, DC. But what started as the most prepared morning of my life turned disastrous in a hurry. Although I arrived at 9:10 a.m.—20 minutes early—I had been given the wrong address. Four phone calls, three parking garages, two sprints and one taxi later, I showed up about 50 minutes late for the biggest appointment of my life.
They offered me Havre de Grace.
Nothing against the “City by the Bay,” but I told Christine if I was going to be in Harford County, it had to be Bel Air. Fortunately, she gave in.
By July I moved into a apartment. On , Harford County’s first full-time community website was born.
What began as a last-resort job, viewed mostly as a steppingstone, has become the reason I wake up every morning. But after 16 months and three days with Bel Air Patch, I’m handing over the reins.
Stepping in will be Kirsten Dize, a name familiar to most of you from her days with The Aegis. I’m excited to finally see Kirsten’s talents set free. Although she starts today, you’ll hear more from her Tuesday.
As for me, I’m proud to say I’m still working for Patch, but in a different capacity. In fact, I’ll likely relocate out of state within the next few months. But I certainly won’t forget the things that made this the best first job I could have imagined.
A stabbing, shooting, , tornadoes and were not on the list of things I expected to cover, but I did my best to keep you informed. And though I never met Joey d’Entremont, I still feel like I on Sept. 17, 2010.
I did enjoy covering a coffee spill that caused a car crash—with no injuries—over a mini-cliff, hosting a , attending just about any sports event I could find and keeping everyone up-to-date on the Boulevard at Box Hill. (You all are about Wegmans.)
But Bel Air Patch is more than a website—it’s a community. It’s the reason I’ll miss chicken Parmesan pizza at , coffee at and a cold beer at . Somehow I think I’ll long to cover town, County Council and Board of Education meetings again, too.
I’ll look back on the Facebook page—with more fans than any of the other 870-plus Patch sites—and wish it was still me providing the updates.
I guess I’ll miss just about everything. Most importantly, though, I’ll miss you, my neighbors.
The way you accepted a Pylesville native into the heart of Harford County was overwhelming. Good feedback or bad, fans or foes, I appreciate everyone. Even as local “media” continue to ignore Patch’s existence, you made Bel Air Patch the most-read Harford County website within six months, and it hasn’t stopped growing.
I guess that’s the important thing here: that it was never about me. I was just the host of Harford County’s biggest party. All I ask now is that you keep it rocking.