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Lee returns home to shape next generation

Since my first day as a sports reporter for the Outlook, Sandy Post and Estacada News, I figure I have written somewhere in the neighborhood of about 1,000 articles. This one has been the toughest to write, by far.

When I loaded up the moving van the day after taking my last final at the University of Utah in 2012 and moved my family to a place we’d never been, I had an expectation. This job was going to be a quick stop. A first job out of college that would serve as a steppingstone to another writing job. I figured we’d be here for maybe a year, two at the most.

Then something happened. We fell in love with the area and I fell in love with my job. It has been such a delight to cover teams and athletes in this beautiful part of the country. A handful of other journalism job offers have come up here and there over the course of the last three and a half years, but we didn’t want to leave.

I have enjoyed covering youth sports and Mt. Hood Community College athletics, and as a baseball guy, it has been so refreshing to have the Gresham GreyWolves come to town to give me my baseball fix. What I have loved the most, though, has been the opportunity to cover high school athletics.

High school athletes have impressed me since Day 1. Being able to witness their complete physical, mental and emotional dedication to their talents has been inspiring.

It was a pleasure to be on the campus of Oregon State University to capture the pure joy on display when the Sandy softball team won its first-ever state championship in the 2013. That joy was matched a year later when the underdog Sandy baseball team defied the odds and won a state title of its own.

It was truly entertaining to cover Reynolds basketball star Drew Eubanks as he dominated high school competition, then watch him on television in the NCAA Tournament as an Oregon State Beaver the next season. Although, I was a bit disappointed when he helped the Beavers beat my Utes in Corvallis in Pac-12 play.

Just this spring, the Estacada baseball team gave me one last inspiring story to write about. In more than 90 years of playing baseball, the Rangers had never won a playoff game. Then this year, they went on a run and advanced all the way to the state championship game where they came up just one run short of claiming the title.

Seeing high school students’ accomplishments has been a treat and I have loved writing about them. Now I hope can help high school students to do great things in the future. My family and I are heading back to Utah where I will be working as a high school journalism teacher.

I would like to express my thanks to the coaches and athletes I have been able to work with, to the administrators who offered their support and assistance and to the readers. I hope you have enjoyed reading my stories even a sliver as much as I have enjoyed writing them.

From afar, I will continue to track the accomplishments of this area’s best young athletes to see what else they can accomplish. How good will the Oregon State basketball team get with Eubanks in the post? Will Sandy’s Maddi Thompson repeat as state javelin champion? Will the Estacada Rangers get over the hump and win the baseball state championship in 2017?

I don’t know the answer to any of those questions, but I know it will be fun to follow.

Parker will be a journalism teacher at Juan Diego High School in Utah.