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Looking back while keeping our eyes ahead


Everyone has a guilty pleasure. For some it is “Dancing with the Stars,” some people like those little powdered sugar doughnut holes that you buy at the gas station for $2.99 and then have to spend $8.95 at the dry cleaners getting the white sugar off your black shirt.

For me, there is no guilty pleasure quite like the lead-up to yet another doomsday prophesy. I love everything about doomsday festivities: people buying bottled water by the shopping cart full; people who are terrified that the world is going to end and all the good things in their life are going to explode in a fiery blaze; people who are looking forward to the prophesy coming true so that they — along with the rest of humanity’s worthy — can experience the rapture.

The last great doomsday produced perhaps the best quote I heard on my job. In 2011, U.S. evangelical Christian Harold Camping predicted that as the earth rotated the sun on May 21, doomsday would strike each area at 6:00 p.m..

The Portland Timbers, which I cover for the Portland Tribune, were scheduled to face the Columbus Crew at 8 p.m. on that day. So, a few days before the match, I asked former coach John Spencer about the upcoming apocalypse.

Spencer smiled and said: “Maybe we should change the kickoff time so we can maybe try and get three points before we go?”

Hard as it is for me to believe, there are probably a few people out there who are thinking that I am going to eat my words when I say that I am not really planning on the world coming to an end on Dec. 21 because of the Mayan Prophesy.

That said, Spencer made a heckuva point. As long as there is yet another doomsday prophesy on the horizon, I could not be happier that 2012 saw the birth of the Hillsboro Tribune.

For years Hillsboro was the missing piece of the puzzle for the Pamplin Media Group. Pamplin had community papers throughout the state, but Hillsboro remained untapped. That changed this September when we launched the Tribune.

Perhaps not unexpectedly, the launching of our paper was met with retaliation from competitors. Within a very short time, we saw our competition in Hillsboro hire several more reporters and then open a new newspaper in Forest Grove.

For good or bad, newspaper publishing is often a blood sport. That is the way it has always been and it is the way it always will be. The truth is, the people who benefit the most from the carnage are the readers who get a product of greater quality from both competitors.

Neither I, nor anyone who I work with, would ever back down from a challenge. But, let me make one thing very clear. The Hillsboro Tribune publishes once every two weeks. We cannot step into the ring for a three-round fight with any chance of winning. As far as the 72-round fights go, I would put my money on the Trib.

We can argue all day about the benefits of being a paper of record as opposed to telling stories that allow you to look into the face of humanity and come away with a greater sense of what it means to be a human being. The stories about the people behind the scoreboard is where the Tribune’s sports section has shined since its first issue.

We have run multiple stories on Oregon Ducks star tight end Colt Lyerla. The Hillsboro alumnus helped the Ducks reach the Fiesta Bowl, finishing the season rushing for 77 yards and one touchdown and catching 22 passes for 340 yards and six TDs.

We brought you a story on legendary football coach Mouse Davis, who led Hilhi to the 1973 state championship before moving on to coach at Portland State and in the NFL. Davis is now retired, but he does not completely rule out coaching the game that he loves again.

“You never say never,” Davis said. “The fact that I turned 80 the other day, there’s a possibility that I won’t coach. But, it’s not beyond the realm of reality. It’s something that I really enjoy. I really enjoy being around the players. And we’ve had great success. It’s a fun thing. The chances of me coaching again are relatively small. But, you never know.”

We followed the ups and downs of the Century football team that finished the season 8-3 and made it to the second round of the state playoffs before losing to Southridge.

“These kids were so passionate about succeeding,” Century coach Bill Smith said.

We kept track of Hillsboro cross country runner Lauren Lykins, who took third place at the Pacific Conference District Meet and then finished 46th at the state meet.

“I love representing Hilhi,” Lykins said.

My favorite story of the year was on Melanie Miller. The Concordia volleyball star from Liberty High is terminally ill with Limited Systemic Sclerosis. Miller also suffers from Raynaud’s disease and Type 1 Diabetes. It is the LSS that will one day attack Miller’s internal organs. Those organs will calcify and one after another, they will fail.

Miller does not yet know when she will die, and because she does not know, she is able to live a full life. Last season, Miller appeared in 84 sets and all 25 matches for the Cavaliers. She totaled 164 kills, 129 digs, 29 blocks, 28 assists 11 service aces and had a .196 hitting percentage. She was also named to the Academic All-CCC team.

“I haven’t been thinking about the long term of when it’s going to completely take over my life,” Miller said of her illness. “I don’t really know when, and I do care, but I don’t want to know. I just want to live.”

Those are just a few examples of the stories that the Tribune has run this year. There have been many others.

Spending time in Hillsboro and talking with athletes, coaches and citizens, I have been overwhelmed and very humbled by the kind words that they have to say about the Hillsboro Tribune’s sports section. I cannot take all of the credit for that, though. I would be remiss to not give credence to those who have made this section everything that it is.

Zack Palmer has done an extraordinary job with page design. He is the reason that the Tribune sports section looks like a top-flight product every single issue.

As the Tribune’s publisher, John Schrag has been exquisite in the difficult task of getting a new newspaper off the ground. His insights into what works and what does not work have been invaluable.

Editor Kevin Harden has kept this section honest at all times. He has been a severe and yet kind chariot driver who demands the best from this sports section.

Pamplin Media Group President Mark Garber had the vision and the courage to open up a new paper when newspapers around the country have been closing.

And of course, none of this would be possible without the support of Pamplin Media Group owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr..

When I look back on all of the stories that the Tribune has run this year and all of the people who have made those stories possible, I really think that Spencer had it right. If the world is going to end Dec. 21, it is a great thing that the Hillsboro Tribune came around when it did.

If you want to assume for a minute that the world is going to go on existing after this doomsday, the Tribune has a lot of exciting things in store for the city coming up in 2013.

The biggest event on the horizon, of course, is the Hillsboro Hops short-season Minor League baseball team coming to town. High school sports and the prep stars who move on to more illustrious venues will always be the lifeblood of the Hillsboro sports scene. But starting this summer, the city will have a new professional sports team to call its own.

“I’m excited to see the reaction of fans when they come out to that first homestand and are just blown away by the experience,” Hops general manager K.L. Wambacher said.

There are other big things in store for the Tribune as well. We are going to be taking a short hiatus before returning to our regular publishing schedule on Jan. 11. I have been asked several times about whether the Tribune plans on publishing more than once every two weeks. The answer to that is yes. Our goal is to eventually become a weekly paper. It is still unclear when that will happen, but the prospect is more than exciting.

Regardless of whether the Hillsboro Tribune publishes once a week, or once every two weeks, our readers can continue to expect the same quality product that they have already been getting. We will continue to look beyond the stat line, continue to search for the humanity behind the game, continue to tell stories that leaves readers with a deeper understanding of not just athletics, but of life.

So, if this Mayan doomsday prophecy is real, it has been a great ride. And if not, we will see you back here in 2013.