Burning my final timeoutWritten by Ryan Fowler | | firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the Jack Buck moment of my career.
It’s hard to believe it will be my last chance to round the bases with you.
Just as difficult will be the task of summing up my past three and a half years covering the Toledo sports scene and experiencing some of the most amazing moments, not just of my career, but also my life.
Less than a month after I joined the NBC 24 Sports department in the summer of 2006, the Glass City was the epicenter of sports during the 4th of July weekend.
The Jamie Farr Tournament and Triple-A All-Star baseball game converged on Toledo. Never had I worked harder, never had I sweat more, never had I been so blessed to be right in the middle of the action.
Later that year, the Mud Hens raised another Governor’s Cup trophy over their heads at Fifth Third Field. As I told Jim Tichy and Eric Haubert on more than one occasion during that post-season run, I reeked of a New Year’s Eve celebration as the champagne showers flowed.
Though the champagne remained on ice inside the Tigers’ locker room later that fall, I jumped at the chance to chronicle the festivities outside Comerica Park as the Motor City Kitties clawed their way back into the World Series.
Remember the woman who put herself up on eBay looking to exchange a dinner date for a ticket to the World Series? I do.
A month later, I remember kneeling in the end zone at Ohio Stadium capturing moment after breathtaking moment as No. 1 OSU took on No. 2 Michigan in the greatest rivalry in sports. Future Buckeye and Central Catholic alum Dane Sanzenbacher was watching from the stands that night and now is a main part of the Buckeyes’ air attack arsenal.
I will never forget the Bowling Green women’s basketball team’s dramatic run into the Sweet Sixteen the following spring. The Falcons proving a mid-major conference could hang with the top programs in the country. Curt Miller could coach anywhere he wanted, but he chose to stick with the Brown and Orange.
NBC 24 sent me down to the bayou in January 2008. Sports director Eric Haubert and I had the dicey challenge of covering not one, but two bowl games. We hopped off our plane in Biloxi, Mississippi and for the next six days our rental car shuttled us between Mobile, Ala., and New Orleans. The Bowling Green Falcons GMAC Bowl was one we’d rather forget. And though the Buckeyes got off to a fast start against the Bayou Tigers, yeah, we’d probably rather forget that game, too. But again, experiences I will treasure.
And then there is Elliott Mealer. The big ol’ football player from Wauseon High School is my favorite athlete of the past three and a half years. I’ve written two Toledo Free Press articles about Mealer and his dramatic story of internal strength and unwavering faith. He is what athletes should aspire to be on a daily basis. With Elliott, it’s not about the big contracts, but possessing a big heart. It’s not about show time, but family time. The Mealers have been through an awful lot the past two years, but a family that has become stronger because of it. At the core is Elliott, and his desire to wear the Maize and Blue and run out that tunnel on Saturday afternoon’s at the Big House. He is what makes covering sports so fun. Elliott embodies and embraces it all as a gift, not something he is owed.
I will miss Friday nights in the fall and winter the most. NBC 24’s “Friday Night Frenzy” is without question the top high school sports production in the area. The highlights, the interviews, the bands, the humor, the Frenzy has it all. It’s why I ended my tenure at NBC 24 with one final Frenzy. Northwest Ohio’s prep sports scene has been a treat to cover.
I would like to thank Toledo Free Press Publisher Tom Pounds, Editor in Chief Michael S. Miller and Special Sections Editor Brandi Barhite for the past two years. I am grateful for the opportunity and the ability to use this media platform to convey my opinion and inform my readers of the great sports stories right here in Northwest Ohio.
My thanks to 106.5 FM “The Ticket” sports director Norm Wamer for a weekly invitation to join him during his “Front Row” sports talk show.
And last, but certainly not least, my thanks to NBC 24 WNWO. Jim Tichy and Eric Haubert brought me in to the “Friday Night Frenzy” family and for that I am a better person and stronger journalist. To the rest of my NBC 24 family I wish you luck in the near future and down the road. I will cherish the fun times around the newsroom when the red light was off.
I truly can’t believe what I just saw.
Ryan Fowler is now the Digital Content Editor for Cincinnati-based www.whatifsports.com.