Thanks, Henry County

This column is brought to you by the number three.

In my first-ever column for the Mt. Pleasant News, I talked about my experience moving to town, and the chaotic series of lessons that comes with starting new job in a new town just three days after college graduation.

There were new things to learn every day ? like the fact that garbage bags need those bright green stickers in order to be picked up.

Well, three years later, this is my last column for the paper, and tomorrow is my last day at the Mt. Pleasant News.

My husband and I are moving to the suburbs of Chicago ? he'll be working out there, and for the time being, I'm still looking for a job. I'm hoping to continue my sports writing career, as I have very much enjoyed the work I've done here in Henry County.

For me, going to Chicagoland is returning home, but I've been blessed to call Mt. Pleasant home for the last three years.

I came here knowing very little about working day to day as a journalist, and I've learned a lot more than how to get the city to take my garbage bags off the curb.

I'm very thankful for all the things I've learned, and I've also learned I have a lot to be thankful for.

So thank you, Henry County.

Thank you for your comments, compliments and criticism.

Thank you for your thank yous! It's always nice to know when work is appreciated.

Thank you for making me feel like part of the community, for greeting me at games and meets and matches.

Thank you to the athletes for the opportunity to cover not only daily events, but playoff football and state cross-country, basketball, wrestling, golf, tennis, soccer, track and softball.

Mt. Pleasant's double overtime boys' basketball state championship win remains one of the most exciting moments of my career to date ? I'll never forget Dalton Conrad's game-tying shot, arcing perfectly into the basket just before the buzzer sounded. There were times I was sitting there, under the hoop, so caught up in the action that I nearly forgot to take photos of it.

The many hurdle championships I've witnessed in Des Moines have been just as thrilling ? those have to be some of the most exciting races on the track. I'm holding out that Kelsi Phipps and Hannah Becker will be able to experience their fourth straight shuttle hurdle title next season, and maybe go 1-2 in the 100 hurdles for good measure. I'm hoping that I'll be able to be in the stands at Drake Stadium to watch it ? instead of running around the infield like a madwoman with a camera in one hand and a notebook in the other.

I'll also be keeping track of New London's softball team this season, waiting to see if this is the year the Tigers will be able to hoist a championship trophy in Ft. Dodge.

I will miss a lot about covering area high school and college sports. I'll miss talking to a lot of coaches ? especially after a big win; those interviews are always a little more fun. But I'm extremely grateful to all the coaches who were willing to talk to me, win or lose, and to those who got stats in every morning on time. You made my life so much better.

I'm also thankful for the parents and fans who passed along feature story ideas, and who simply took time to talk to me.

To mention every athlete, parent, coach, staff member or fan that has been a delight for me to work with the last three years would stretch this column far beyond the sports page, and for that, I am very thankful.

Above all, I'm thankful for the opportunity to further learn how important it is to do all things ? including sports reporting ? in service of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Though my efforts have been far from perfect, I hope that's been able to shine through in my time here ? Soli Deo Gloria.

Tonight's Mt. Pleasant baseball and softball doubleheaders will be the last events I cover for the News. I'm excited to end my time here with some games against a big rival.

Best wishes in the future to all Henry County teams.