mikewebThey say that all good things must come to an end. After close to 20 years at the Clipper, this will be my last edition as the Clipper’s sports editor. I’ve decided it’s time to hang up the press pass and put the responsibility of covering sports in Duxbury in the hands of someone who will grow as a writer and help the paper continue to move in a forward direction.

The decision wasn’t easy. When the school year started I was willing to give it a year to see if not living in town would have some effect on my interest level. Having moved to Pine Hills in Plymouth in August didn’t put me on the other side of the country, but it also didn’t make it easy for me to just hop in the car and run down to St George Street on a minute’s notice to cover games.

I never had any formal journalistic training, but I had some valuable mentors along the way. My first venture into the journalism world came under the tutelage of the late Jack Falla, who was the Director of Sports Information at Babson, before moving on to bigger and better things as one of the country’s most knowledgeable hockey writers at Sports Illustrated. His guidance in overseeing my work as sports editor of the Babson Free Press was extremely helpful.

In the late 80s and early 90s I ran one of the largest high school scouting and marketing organizations in Massachusetts. I was fortunate to work with two of DHS’s female soccer stars at the time: DHS Hall of Famer Jill Maxwell and her twin sister Kristen. Their mother, Paula Maxwell, who was the Clipper editor at the time decided that I knew sports and could write and that I might be a good fit for the Clipper.

I told her to let me try it for a week or two and see if I liked it. I guess I did.

Over the years I met many of the area’s top sportswriters, along with TV and radio personalities. I’ll always remember what The Patriot Ledger’s Ron Hobson told me about writing for a community newspaper.

“Your job isn’t to be controversial, but to write good stories about the sports scene in your community.”

I can only remember one instance where I caused a firestorm. But I’ve always felt my job was to provide press clippings for generations of Duxbury athletes who would fill their scrapbooks and make for great reading down the road.

I met other media notables along the way in my Clipper career and one of the most memorable was in 1998 while covering Duxbury’s first Super Bowl appearance at BU’s Nickerson Field. A young BU grad was covering the game for one of the Boston papers and sat next to me. He didn’t know that much about Massachusetts HS football, so we exchanged phone numbers so if he needed any help he could call me for info.

Several years later while putting phone numbers from my little black book into a palm, I worked my way down the alphabet until I got to the F’s. There it was plain as day: Mike Felger’s three phone numbers. I guess he didn’t need my numbers after all. He went on to fame and fortune, but who knows if he ever had the fun I did covering high school sports.

I think if I had the opportunity to write in any other town I would not have lasted this long. When your subjects win close to 75 percent of their athletic contests every year it’s a pleasant situation to be in. It’s a lot easier to write about winning than it is about losing.

To think I have had the opportunity to be on the field at Gillette Stadium to watch Dave Maimaron’s football teams win two Super Bowls, or be on the ice at the TD Garden and watch Friend Weiler take the Lady Dragon hockey team to three straight state titles, or John Blake earn a state title in boys’ hockey, and be on the floor of the Centrum in Worcester to see Gordon Cushing and Pat Magnarelli lead the Dragons to a state basketball title, and Pat Shea and Lauren Fuller do the same for the girls’ basketball team.

These are moments people in some towns wait a lifetime for and never see. I saw it and covered it on a regular basis in Duxbury. The experiences the athletes of Duxbury gave me were priceless and I tried like hell to give everyone their fair share of press.

For those of you who don’t know, writing at the Clipper was a labor of love and not my primary source of income. People would ask me if I got paid and I always joked that it was my “gas and Dunkin Donuts money.” My primary source of income is from being the owner and president of Performance Printing & Promotional Products in Weymouth for the past 40 years, and I was fortunate enough to supply many of the Duxbury teams and organizations in town with their clothing, post-season awards, and gifts. As Performance continues to grow, it’s time to give it my full attention. I now look forward to extending my involvement and association with my many Duxbury friends by continuing to serve them through my business.

The job of providing the Duxbury community with the high school sports coverage they have become accustomed to will now fall into the hands of Dave Palana, who previously covered sports for our sister papers in Whitman, Hanson, and Pembroke. Dave did an excellent job covering those two high schools and I’m happy that the Clipper was able to find someone who knows the area and understands how important athletics is to the Duxbury community.

Some sports were more difficult than others to write about and I hopefully explained that to the parents of those athletes. But along the way I had some great help from parents who were willing to put in the time to make sure the athletes in their sports got their due. I have always feared leaving someone out when I decided to thanks some individuals, so my apologies to anyone I forget.

Wendy Genereux, who wrote for the Clipper this fall, has been a godsend. A devoted parent to the wrestling program, I can’t tell you how many times Wendy would sit through Saturday wrestling tournaments all day long and give me a complete report on the day’s activities. Or Candi Brush, who is the head of the Entrepreneurship Department at Babson College and was in Scandinavia receiving an international business award. She emailed me to apologize for not being able to give me the week’s high school swimming results.

Some of the coaches like Jack Stoddard (golf) and John Bunar (tennis) were extremely diligent in sending me results after ever match and I think they were rewarded with weekly coverage when I couldn’t get there. And where would I have been without the exceptional photography of Jim Tarbox and Todd Maddock, along with that from Lisa Segal who helped me out this fall. Jim and Todd did this for the joy of covering Duxbury sports the way I enjoyed writing about it. Jim had his own construction firm, while Todd is a trust officer at a major bank. When you saw them on the sidelines, they were taking time away from their professions because they knew how much the sports section meant to the Duxbury community.

I know I could not have done what I did for all these years without the help of others. But I do hope and pray that my successor will give the people of Duxbury the same amount of time that I devoted to make sure Duxbury’s athletes were acknowledged for their efforts in a manner that is fitting to their success.

I would also like to acknowledge the Cutler family for their trust in my ability to put forth a sports section that was the Clipper’s first of many New England Press Association Awards. They never questioned what I did or how I did it, but remained hands free for most of my newspaper career.

Last, but not least, I would like to thank my wife Carol, and my daughters Jamie and Sarah, for the patience they showed  in allowing me to spend thousands of hours on the fields and away from home, where I pursued a dream I always envisioned.