In early 2005, I had an itch that needed to be scratched.
I was an operations executive and had just celebrated 15 years with my company the previous October, which led to some serious introspection about what I was doing with my life and where I wanted to go with my career.
Around the same time, my department started a monthly newsletter and I began writing a column for it. Because of my lifelong passion for the genre, the topics of my columns were always sports-related.
While working on the newsletter, I began to wonder what my life might have been like had I continued to pursue a career as a sportswriter instead of dropping out of school to join management ranks back in 1995.
After weighing the pros and cons, and with the full support of my then-girlfriend/now-wife, I decided to make a career change and go back to school to get my journalism degree.
Things were progressing slowly until the summer before my junior year, when I managed to land an internship at The Baltimore Sun. It was the break I was looking for, but it was also the scariest time of my life.
To say I had some reservations when I first stepped foot inside the offices of The Sun is akin to saying the Titanic had some trouble in getting to America.
It was Intern Orientation Day, summer 2007, and like the ill-fated ship, I too was a wreck. I was experiencing a multitude of emotions that hot June morning, most of them bad. Nervous? This was my first time inside a newsroom of any sort so, yes, I was definitely nervous. Intimidated? Considering I was about to spend the summer with the same people who produced what was, at the time, one of the leading daily publications in the entire country, I was definitely intimidated. Out of place? I had 15 years on the next-oldest intern, was dressed in a suit when everyone else was business casual, and was in the middle of attempting a massive, midlife career change while others in my group were
discussing party plans for the weekend. Needless to say, I felt a tad out of place.
To make matters worse, I was also the least experienced of the group, having had but one journalism class to my credit. One. I knew very little newspaper terminology, and even less about reporting. Yet, despite those odds, when the summer was over I had accumulated more bylines than all the other interns in my department combined. I saw my byline appear on the front page of the sports section six times in the course of 12 weeks. And I gained valuable experience writing about sports at every level.
A few weeks later, I accepted a job in the sports department, where I continued to accumulate bylines over the next 18 months. I covered professional football, major league baseball, college and high school sports, and championship golf. I interviewed superstars and future stars, and told compelling stories of people who used sports to overcome long odds and succeed.
Stories like the Florida teenager who overcame the death of his mother to excel as a BMX rider. Or the