I find that the more I think about writing, the harder it is to write.
This goodbye to the Eden Prairie News is hard, as I've thought about it for almost 23 years.
During the fall of 1997, I joined the Eden Prairie News staff as a sports/general assignment reporter.
My plan was to gain a few years of writing experience and move on.
Lives change, plans change.
During the summer of 1998, my wife Marnie and I welcomed our daughter Aili into this world. Three years later, Britt made her worldly debut.
Not only was I writing about Eden Prairie, I was living Eden Prairie.
I wrote about Eden Prairie's Early Childhood Family Education classes and attended Eden Prairie's Early Childhood Education classes. I'll date myself, I know Ms. Nadi.
When the PrairieDome opened for Friday Family Nights, I was there to take photos and enjoy Friday Family Nights. To this day, I can remember how much the kids loved playing in front of those big fans.
I loved sharing stories about my family.
My favorites chronicle life's stages – daycare drop offs, first time riding a two-wheeler, first and last days of school, passing a driver's test ...
In a few weeks, I most certainly would have written about college graduation.
I love headlines. One of my all-time favorites introduced a column I wrote about morning routines, and how the Huss' was about to change: Morning has broken: 4,750 lunches and 7,200 wake-ups later.
Speaking of headlines, how about this doozy: Not a gag, Wheel of vomit played by pets.
I can explain, but won't.
I've written lots of stories/columns about dogs. In fact, I met one of my best friends through a story I wrote about dogs, and I'm forever grateful.
It's small world: Our dogs came from the same litter.
Relationships are the must-haves, and cherished perks, of writing for a community paper.
The coaches I talk to on the weekends know my call is coming, and gladly, I think, take it. I call football coach Mike Grant on Sunday after 9 p.m. In 22 years, I can only remember a couple times when he didn't answer. Back in the day of land lines, I would first talk to Colleen Grant, and we would discuss all things outdoors. We saved the planet a number of times.
I would call hockey coach Lee Smith before 9 a.m. on Sunday mornings. We'd talk hockey, kids and NFL football. The call to basketball coach David Flom was later Sunday mornings. Most of the time, I interrupted a film review. As one of the most prepared coaches I know, I'm thinking he knows my tendencies.
Swim coach Kelly Boston coaches both boys and girls teams, meaning she takes my calls for seven months straight. I'll text her on Monday morning and she'll call right back. We both have kids in college, so we talked majors, minors and tuition. We even talked some swimming.
I remember writing about baseball coach John Buteyn as an Eden Prairie High School student, ditto for other Eden Prairie alumni who went on to coach.
I took a front-page photo of President George W. Bush when he spoke at Eden Prairie High School. An Olympian (Rachel Bootsma) took my call, while she was at the Olympics.
Those were wins I'll never forget.
It's the losses, however, that I'll always remember.
I remember John Heinmiller's smile and charisma. I also remember that noise the buttons on his West Point classmates' uniforms made as they sat down on the Pax Christi church pews at Heinmiller's funeral.
Same for the hockey dads, clad in their leather jackets, standing at the back wall of Ryan Shuman's funeral. I had seen this same lineup on the top row of the Eden Prairie Community Center bleachers at many hockey games.
I can't see a blue balloon without thinking of Sydney Galleger. My oldest daughter was Sydney's age. My niece Afton dove with Galleger at Eden Prairie High School.
It's all sad.
I had heard of Lyle Schuette long before I had met Lyle Schuette.
He was the bus driver coaches wanted driving their team buses.
At a hockey game, Lee Smith once let him stand behind the bench. At baseball games, you could find him in the dugout. Once, I've been told, he even coached first base.
During the football season, he was an assistant coach.
What position did the 80-year-old coach?
When asked for Schuette’s job description, coach Mike Grant thought for a minute.
“His main job was morale,” he said. “He made every kid feel special and Eden Prairie a great place to be.”
Pancreatic cancer stole Lyle in 2017. Lyle was a hero.
Eden Prairie won lots of championships under my watch. Am I not wrong?
I saw the Eden Prairie High School girls and boys lacrosse teams combine for 11 state titles, Eden Prairie's football team win 10 big-school championships, Eden Prairie's swim teams win nine titles, hockey five ...
The one constant, other than greatness, has been the support of the Eden Prairie students.
To this day, I can't see the upper bowl at the Xcel Energy Center without picturing blackouts, redouts and whiteouts.
Heck, I can't walk down Kellogg Avenue with reliving the sounds (horns blasting) and sights of a Winnebago, circa 1971.
That RV, built and rebuilt by four Eden Prairie students, was a love-and-hate story of sorts:
The Winnebago, aka Eagle’s Nest, broke its heart (Chevy 350, circa 1971) the very day of Eden Prairie’s prom.
It wouldn't turn over. After a diagnosis, it was determined that a lack of blood (oil) had caused the Winnebago’s heart to stop.
As a fix, the Winnebago underwent a heart transplant (engine swap).
Speaking of cheers, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Dan Huss cheer.
Like a Marco Polo exchange, the Eden Prairie student section would alternately shout (cheer) Dan and Huss.
I remember telling my family about this. They didn't buy it until my nephew Olin confirmed.
So yes, the Dan Huss cheer was a thing.
I was touched.
I find that the more I think about saying my goodbyes, the harder they are to say.