I was born on one of the coldest days in January and if you ask my two younger sisters, that is no coincidence. If you ask me, it is. I like to think I was the warmth on that cold day in Peoria, Ill. I was several hours late to my own birth, and if you ask my mother, that is no coincidence. If you ask me, I?d have to tell you she?s right.
She always tells me I?m going to be late to my own funeral. Once again, she?s probably right considering I?ve never been on time to anything since.
My mom was my first grade teacher, my dad my fourth grade teacher, my sister Abigail my first best friend and my other sister, Allison, my second. That doesn?t mean we didn?t have our fair share of fights; locking each other in rooms and sticking gum in each others hair. We love each other like all sisters do: loudly, by poking fun and always keeping the secret that grandma let us eat Doritos for breakfast on Easter over ten years ago.
Central Illinois has its fair share of sports teams but I was brought up a Cubs fan, and became a Packers fan all on my own. One afternoon when I was about four, my dad had me sit down and watch a football game with him. I suppose he was hoping I would get bored and take a nap, but the green team with the ?G? on their helmets caught my eye. I decided that since my favorite color was green and there was a ?G for Gretchen? on the helmet, they were my team.
I?ve been a Packers fan for nearly 20 years now.
I played sports, was in the band, choir, and drama club in high school. I?ve even been a part of nearly 25 community theater productions. However, sports were where I found my home. After two years of junior college, I went to my dad?s alma mater, Concordia University Chicago, to study journalism.
While I was there, I promised myself I would come back with a story to tell. So, I decided my story would be how I joined the school lacrosse team. I had never played lacrosse a day in my life but learning the sport at the D3 level was going to be a great story to tell.
My lacrosse career, unfortunately, fell short when I pulled a hamstring muscle. I was no longer able to play, so I then walked with a limp, and in a new direction. I transferred to my mom?s alma mater, Bradley University, in my hometown of Peoria, to continue my education. They did not have a lacrosse team there, so I coached a youth team in a town nearby.
Switching from living in a dorm to living at home was a big change for me. When I was at home, there were no fire drills at 3 a.m. because someone put their popcorn in the microwave for too long, no worry that someone would take my laundry out of the washer before it was done and at home I got to eat food that tasted like actual food.
I suppose I don?t need to explain why I chose journalism because it?s pretty evident: I like telling stories. I like having stories to tell and I love having the honor to be trusted with other people?s stories so they can be told, too. I suppose that?s my goal for my career: tell stories worth telling.
After graduating in December, I worked at a preschool for a few months while I job searched. I knew I couldn?t afford to live in Illinois for the rest of my life and if I never changed another diaper it would be too soon, so I looked at all the surrounding states for opportunities. Ohio, Wisconsin, and of course Iowa made my list.
When I drove up to Washington for my interview, it began snowing. To some this may be a bad omen, but my life started on a cold day so I thought maybe my new chapter in life would start on one too. A few days later I got the call that there was a spot for me as a Golden Triangle Reporter, if I would like to take it.
I thought about it, I prayed about it, and then I packed my car and moved in. I?ve only been here a couple of weeks, but so far it?s been lovely. I still don?t know what Pancheros is, but I?ve heard enough about it to know I?m missing something. Go figure: I?m late on something.