This is it.

The final Sports Source of my 10-plus year career as the sports editor at The Garden City Telegram.

As with any end point, it comes with mixed emotions.

No tears…yet. A big sigh…perhaps. Some relief…I think so.

It’s been a good run as I have now reached that early geriatric age of 65, soon to be 66 with Social Security income on the horizon.

So, it’s a good time to announce my retirement from The Telegram. Friday night at midnight closed the final chapter.

It’s been 3,703 days and more than 6,700 articles since I penned my first Sports Source on July 15, 2008.

In a bit of irony, my first article that I wrote when I interviewed for the job was the Garden City Men’s City Golf Championship, won that year by Jim Claussen. I thought it was the easiest interview ever!

Now, with Friday having been my final day, it seems appropriate that one of my final articles will be about the Symetra Tour’s Garden City Charity Classic. The other finale will be the Garden City-Valley Center football game.

In my first two years here, trying to reawaken the readers of southwest Kansas to the sports section of The Telegram, my goal was to attend and cover as many games in area communities as possible. Two years in, and I had succeeded in that endeavor by either covering a football or basketball game, or other fall, winter or spring events at all 19 schools.

There was a resurgent interest as our then three full-time sports reporters and three to five part-timers produced a section of which all of us could be proud, and our readers could be appreciative. We provided quotes, statistics and insights into the contests for nine months each year.

Cold and windy nights, rainy weather, ice, mixed in with hot and muggy conditions — I experienced it all.

Memories to last a lifetime and perhaps beyond.

When I came to The Telegram at the advanced age of 55, I had told my two supervisors — Dena Sattler and Brett Riggs — that I hoped it would be my last train stop in the newspaper business if things worked out well for both them and for me.

Well, guess what? It did.

Not many people have a second chance to return to their educational roots — mine being journalism and reporting — at that age and to do it for a decade. I’m one of the lucky ones.

When I arrived here, I had been absent from the newspaper industry for nearly a quarter century. I had to learn how to use new computers, how to navigate software programs for designing pages.

It was, to say the least, a bit daunting at times. In some ways, it was like going back to school again. It wasn’t easy at times.

There are sayings about teaching an old dog new tricks. I’ve thought that’s it more like an old dog has run out of his bark or bite!

I’ve learned a considerable amount over the past 10 years, all of which has, I hope, made me a better journalist, and in some cases I hope a better and more responsible person.

When I moved to Garden City to take up residence, it was a return to my southwest Kansas roots, having been born and raised in Syracuse while also attending Seward County Community College in Liberal.

There were and are lifetime friends who have made this area truly feel like home again. I value each and every one of those. I have made many new friends in the area as well, and they have enlightened my life beyond measure.

From my golf buddies to my morning coffee group, they keep me grounded and mostly humble. They are people I trust and value for what they have contributed to my life. To the fellow employees here at the Telegram, past and present, they’ve encouraged, supported and nurtured my writing, giving me insights into the world in which we live that I otherwise might not see.

I also will confess that I won’t miss certain things…such as late-night deadlines, parents emailing, calling or stopping by to complain about their children or grandchildren not getting enough written about their exploits. I won’t miss a few of the coaches, who profess unhappiness with our coverage, as well.

I will miss, however, the parents and student-athletes who have expressed their appreciation over the years about the stories that not only I have written, but the other staff members as we cover hundreds upon hundreds of events each school year. I will miss the camaraderie of talking to coaches and athletes after games, and getting better acquainted with them through the years.

Another adage that somebody told me years ago goes something like this…”Change is great when you’re the one making it, and change is miserable when it is being done to you.”

At this point in my life, and now at the end my writing career, I couldn’t agree more.

In the accompanying box, which I have tagged “Best by Brett,” you will find some of the special moments that I have been privileged to watch and write about. These are but a few of the many thousands of articles that I have been allowed to write and explain the who, what, when, where and why of our athletic competitions.

There is a lot of which to be proud of, but I’d admit that I’m mostly proud of the student-athletes who work hard to excel, primarily because they have a love of the sport in which they compete. I’m proud of the coaches who give thousands of hours at meager salaries to mentor these young men and women.

I’m proud of the teachers and administrators who also give way more of their time than most people can imagine, to provide an opportunity to mentor young people to become better citizens and to be successful in the world in which we live.

There is one last mention, and I have saved it for last for a specific reason.

That would be my mother, Minnie Lou Marshall. She just celebrated her 94th birthday in August and resides in Lakin at High Plains Retirement Village. She has been my biggest supporter and sometimes my best critic. She reads the paper from front to back every day it is published.

For years, she had subscribed to the papers when I wrote for the Fort Scott Tribune, Dodge City Daily Globe, Hutchinson News and Salina Journal. When I returned to Kansas in 2008 to begin what would be my final train stop in the business, I discovered a box in her Syracuse apartment. She had meticulously cut out every single article I had ever written. I was astounded and amused. And I was touched by her unwavering support of her youngest son.

Like many others, in the past decade, I have lost family members to untimely deaths. I have lost friends and the parents of friends. We’re all in the same boat with that one. There is a beginning…and an ending…to everything. It’s been a good run, and I’m thankful to the people for whom I have worked.

As I stated in my first Sports Source in July 2008, I had finished my previous sports writing career at the Salina Journal with this notation — …and I’ve just about run out of s.p..a...c....e.

And now I have.

—30—

(Note: Check proofreading and Editing Marks for this explanation)

Brett Marshall has been The Telegram’s sports editor for 10 years, 2 months and 24 days. He has had a career in the business spanning 20 years, having written for five Kansas dailies. You may find him on the 1st tee. He can be reached by email at bear2read@msn.com