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Jason Orts: Going out a winner, with too many ‘thank yous’

Jason Orts: Going out a winner, with too many ‘thank yous’

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As I sat in the press box Friday at NRG Stadium in Houston watching the La Vega Pirates claim their first-ever football state championship, a stirring 33-31 win over Argyle, it was hard to keep my emotions in check.

You see, Friday was my last day at the Waco Trib, and I knew this was the last game I’d cover as a full-time sports reporter, and having it be a game like that did leave me questioning that decision for a moment. After all, in what other line of work do you get to experience this kind of excitement while getting paid for it?

Nice try, La Vega, but it’s time for me to go and try my hand at something else, and I will begin my new career with New York Life on Monday.

It’s was a difficult decision, one that caused many a sleepless night, not only because of games like Friday’s, but because I’m leaving the only job I know I do well. I’m also leaving dealing with tons of people I enjoy seeing on a daily basis — coworkers, coaches, athletes and fellow journalists from around the state just to name a few.

I won’t name too many names in this space, simply because there isn’t enough room to list everyone who has made an impact on my career, especially during my time in Waco.

Suffice it to say, you know who you are, and I thank you all.

As with any job, there are highs and lows, things you love to do and those you can’t stand.

This one is no different. As you can probably tell from the above paragraphs, covering high school football and sports in general in Texas — especially during the playoffs — is special.

Getting the chance to tell someone’s story in a creative way and relate to people on a daily basis is fantastic.

I’m not a Baylor fan, but it’s been enjoyable to watch the program build from what it was when I arrived in Waco in 2007 to what it has become today.

We’re not supposed to cheer for the teams we cover as journalists, but I catch myself feeling nervous for them as the game is close in the final moments and sometimes feel disappointed when they come up short.

The adrenaline rush of trying to make a tight deadline. The late nights. The long road trips. I’ll miss all of them in a way, but they can be exhausting as well.

And over the past few months, especially after the chance to go to work for New York Life came up, I’ve had one question in my mind that I can’t shake. “Am I living to work, or am I working to live?” I feel I’ve been doing too much of the latter and want to try going the other way.

Still, especially when leaving something behind, you want to think you’ve left your mark on it. The remarks from fellow journalists who wished me well in my new career in the press box here or on Twitter and having a few coaches say something to the effect of, “Man, I hate to hear that,” when I tell them I’m leaving the Trib lead me to believe I have.

It’s funny, though. There was once somebody who left the Trib, and before he even got to the door, one of his coworkers (who is not at the on the Trib staff any more) said, “We’ve lost better people.”

I know that’s the truth in this case as well, and not just because the Trib is the newspaper that once employed Mr. Dave Campbell, the founder of Texas Football magazine and a true legend in journalism, but because there have been hundreds of quality people whose bylines have graced its pages.

Speaking of Mr. Campbell, I will mention his name because his kind words about my work have always resonated with me, and getting to know how genuine of a person he is has been one of the real highlights of my time at the Trib.

It’s those personal relationships I’ll miss the most, but I’ll be able to maintain at least some of them. Even though I’m going into a different profession, I’m still going to live in Waco and plan on covering games for the Trib as a freelancer.

You’re not completely getting rid of me, so this isn’t goodbye. It’s more like see you later.

Since I can’t think of a better way to close this out, I’ll steal the final line from former Baylor football coach Guy Morriss in his final press conference.

Peace out.

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