I’m back.

Sort of.


I hope.

Let’s explain that a little. As you should know by now, former sports editor Chris Schanz’s last day with The Commercial Review was Halloween. He got married two days later. And he started a new position this week at The Evening Leader in St. Marys, Ohio.

While we are looking, we have not yet found his replacement. No hiring announcement is imminent.

So, for now, you get me.

I feel like you all know my story, but I also realize that I’ve been in Jay County for so long that our current high school athletes were not even born when I arrived. So let’s review.

I became sports editor at The Commercial Review during the first week of March 2001 and served in that role for 12 years and three months. That run included so many highlights — trips to the state finals for the Jay County boys and Fort Recovery girls basketball teams, Hannah Williams finishing as the state runner-up on the balance beam, the 2008 Patriot baseball team blasting 65 home runs — that it’s difficult to remember them all.

Along the way, I picked up the title of assistant managing editor. I became managing editor when Mike Snyder departed in mid-2013, and then editor a couple of years later.

Choosing my replacement was nerve-wracking. It was difficult to turn over a job that meant so much to me and that I had held for so long.

I chose Chris. He exceeded expectations.

I remember Chris being heartbroken when he didn’t win any state awards in his first year. That changed the next year, when he earned his first Hoosier State Press Association plaque.

It was only then that I told him that he had not deserved to win an award in his first year. Nothing he had written reached that standard. But he wanted to get better. He took advice to heart. He pushed himself to grow as a writer and photographer.

As a result, he went on to win stacks of awards for his writing and photography, including being a two-time finalist for photo of the year. (Full disclosure, I’m a little jealous. I’ve never been a finalist for that award.)

If you asked Chris, he would tell you he never expected to be here for 6 years and four months. This job was meant as a stepping stone for a couple of years before moving on. I felt the same way when I started.

But, there’s something about this community and its athletic teams. It sucked me in. It sucked him in.

So, for 18 years, 7 months and counting, you’ve known only two sports editors — Chris and me.

That’s why I’m not rushing to hire someone new. If we find a great candidate, wonderful. But if we don’t, we’ll wait. It means a lot to me, and to Chris, that we get this right.

So, for now, I’m back.

For a while after Chris started, I still helped out with sports a lot. But as he settled into the position and I developed other interests, Jay County Civic Theatre being chief among them, my involvement in sports coverage was cut back to a handful of events each season.

In some ways, I’m excited to be back at the sports helm, even if its only for a short time. It’s my comfort zone. Sports writing is what I always wanted to do. I made the shift to editor in part because I felt the need to step up to a greater leadership role, in part because it was a new challenge. But my heart was, is and probably always will be with sports.

Even in just the last two weeks, covering Fort Recovery’s football finale Friday and writing preview stories for the upcoming winter sports season has been like picking up where I left off.

In other ways, this a daunting task. It brings with it the prospect of games just about every night and every Saturday in addition to handling my regular editor duties.

I may miss some of the sporting events we’d cover if we had a full-time sports editor in place. But I’ll do my best. And coaches have already proven to be more than willing to help out.

So, yes, I’m reclaiming the title of sports editor that I held for 12 years and three months. Hopefully I find the next one before I hit lucky number 13.