Archive for Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sorrentino: Ball field symbolizes career transition

June 27, 2007

It was fitting when the Tonganoxie Chieftains USSSA baseball team played in a tournament in Lawrence a little more than a week ago.

The baseball diamond represented the most recent step in my career transition from sports writer at the Lawrence Journal-World to sports editor at The Mirror. That Sunday, the new team I cover played on the field of the team I used to cover -- Lawrence Free State.

I'm not saying I'm good luck for the school I'm covering, but the Firebirds had their best athletic year in school history last season. The football team, which hadn't won a playoff game in its 10-year history, advanced to the semifinals of the Kansas Class 6A state playoffs. The boys and girls basketball teams, which hadn't won a playoff game in school history either, each placed third at state in Emporia.

From what I've heard about Tonganoxie, the Chieftains have similar opportunities in Class 4A competition in the upcoming years. Two state trips in girls basketball in the past three years, and last season's 8-2 football record are proof of that. I'm already having visions of what the Chieftains triple-option offense, which averaged 31.8 points per game last season, looks like on the gridiron.

I'm looking forward to meeting every Tonganoxie and McLouth coach, and as many players, family members and fans as possible. I've already enjoyed meeting a few in my first month.

If you see me at games or meets, I encourage you to say hello. I look forward to building some of the same relationships I built in Lawrence with members of the Tonganoxie community. We can talk about any sport -- high school, college or the pros. If you're a sports literature or movie fan, we could probably hold a daylong conversation about "The Natural" or "Bull Durham."

Moving to Tonganoxie was unlike any move I've made in the past. When I was 3, my family and I moved from Poughkeepsie, N.Y. (population near 40,000) to Coral Springs, Fla. (population near 115,000). At age 11, we moved to Plano, Texas (population near 250,000). Next, from 2002-2006, I attended college at Kansas University in Lawrence (population near 80,000).

The most recent step was June 15 when I moved to Tonganoxie -- population 3,597, according to the 2004 census. Plano might have 69.5 times more people than Tonganoxie, but Tonganoxie's now home. If my first month was any indication of how my stay in Tonganoxie will go, it's going to be a fun ride.

I'm still learning how to be better at what I do every day. I think it's beneficial for everyone to learn about ways, for instance, to be a better student, a better teacher, a better coach, a better parent, a better son/daughter, a better sports writer. What I guarantee to the community is a commitment to cover sports to the best of my ability in Tonganoxie.

I was humbled when I accepted this position, but I'm also eager to contribute. I have new ideas, such as online updates the night of big games and other Web-exclusive content. Once I become more familiar with the town, I'll offer my opinion in columns on a regular basis.

There are still many faces I still haven't met, but am looking forward to meeting soon. To the friendly faces I've already met in town, thanks for making my transition from the city life to Tonganoxie a pleasurable one.

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